Archive for August, 2006
When I was in first grade, a kid named Carson broke his leg. Everyone in our class was jealous. Not only Carson have a wheelchair â€“ which beat walking in the minds of his fellow classmates â€“ but he also had a big white cast on his leg. It seemed like everyone in the school and all the teachers signed his cast. I remember signing my name during recess a day or two after he returned to school. At the time it seemed like a privilege to be able to sign it though I canâ€™t remember why I felt that way. Maybe it was because it was the cool thing to do.
In third grade a girl named Stacy broke her arm. One morning she showed up with a big white cast on her arm. Of course the entire class had to hear the story of how she broke her arm and then sign the cast. I had a crush on Stacy so I signed my name in big letters in a spot where she would always see it and, hopefully, think of me.Â Stacy wasnâ€™t amused that I signed my name so big. â€œYou have to leave room for the other kids to sign,â€ I remember her telling me. I think my crush on Stacy ended soon after that comment.
I didnâ€™t realize how much casts have changed until yesterday. Aidan broke his arm Saturday night (long story, Iâ€™ll write about it later). It was a very minor fracture near his elbow and there was some debate among the doctors whether or not his arm was actually broken. Upon seeing a specialist yesterday the verdict came back that, yes, his arm was indeed broken and he needed to wear a cast for three weeks.
While we were in the waiting room there were a half dozen other kids with casts on their arms. One girl had a pink cast. One of the boys had a lime green one. Another boy had a blue one. Designer casts. Cool. When it came turn for Aidan to pick his color the doctor had at least a dozen colors for him to choose from. Aidan picked orange â€“ his favorite color.
It didnâ€™t hit me until on the drive home from the hospital that not one of the kids in the waiting room with casts on their arm had any names written on their casts. The cast material they use nowadays is so different from white ones I remember as a kid and is difficult to write on. Of course they have color options now and they seem so much cooler than those white ones. It does make me wonder, however, if kids still try to sign their names on them anymore.
August 31st, 2006
Our garden is doing much better this year than last year. Last night Aidan and I picked about two dozen tomatoes. There is another dozen waiting to be picked today. Our pumpkin plant has six good sized pumpkins on it. Our corn produced many fat, sweet ears and the squash plant has been given us a steady supply of delicious crockneck squash all summer.
I love the abundance of food our garden has produced this year, though Iâ€™m not really sure what we did that made it so verdant and plentiful. Itâ€™s nice to work the garden though and feel the soil in your fingers and the warm sun on your neck. And I love seeing the fruit of a summer long labor be so copious and delicious.
August 30th, 2006
While the Tigers have roared to the best record in baseball this year, in the back of my mind, I keep thinking that their success is too good to last. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking that they would falter down the stretch and end up blowing what was a great season.
As of this writing the Tigers have only won 6 of their last 19 games. Their division lead which was 10 games earlier this month is down to five. Their only saving grace is that the White Sox have been in a slump of their own and unable to gain much ground on the Tigers.
I still think the Tigers have a great chance to win their division and do well in the playoffs but they better get their act in order soon. The Twins and White Sox are nipping at their heels and could both easily knock the Tigers out of the playoffs unless they find a way to start winning again.
The Tigers start a three games series against the Yankees tomorrow. This series could go a long way in determining what the Tigers are doing this October.
August 28th, 2006
If you can’t tell, I’ve updated my website. There are still a few bugs I’m trying to work out. However, if you notice anything, feel free to email me and tell me of the problem.
August 25th, 2006
Marathon Girl and I went to the doctor yesterday for a routine prenatal exam. Once we arrived the receptionist informed us that the doctor had been calling into an emergency surgery that morning and was running 90 minutes behind.
We groaned. The waiting room was crowded. We didn’t want to sit around for 90 minutes but considering how hard it is for Marathon Girl to find a babysitter for the kids — especially now that school has started — we decided to wait. Waiting wasn’t the bad part because when you have Marathon Girl to talk with time flies by. What was somewhat upsetting was that we both had errands we wanted to run afterwards and was looking forward to being able to do them while we had a babysitter to watch the kids.
But I’m glad we had to wait. We’ve both been to lots of doctors offices and appointments but this was the first doctor we’ve been to who’s office staff actually seems concerned that they’re running behind. (We just switched OBs with this new baby.) His staff skipped their lunches or ate quickly while at their desks in order to speed things up. By the time we made it back to see the doctor, we only experienced a 60 minute wait.
The exam went well. Both Marathon Girl and the baby are doing very good. And was we were scheduling our next appointment, one of his staff gave us a pair of movie passes because of the wait and apologized again for the delay in seeing us.
I couldn’t believe it. Do other doctors know about this? They could learn something from this office. Even though there was a delay, Marathon Girl and I would consider going back to this doctor again because it seems like he and his staff actually care about their patients and the time they takes out of our day to see him. (And the doctor is first rate and really knows what he’s doing.) It’s nice to see some customer service in the health care profession. If all goes well during labor and delivery, Marathon Girl and I will be sticking with this doctor.
August 24th, 2006
“Good fences make good neighbors.” — Robert Frost, Mending Wall
All Daren Wood wanted to do was build a house. That was all it took to start a neighborhood feud that has lasted a year and is now receiving national media attention.
According to media reports, the story goes like this: last year Wood purchased a lot that had a small hill. To make room for the house, the hill was carved out within inches of the neighbors’ property line. Neighbors became worried that the excavation could possibly ruin their foundation and asked the city to intervene. Wood was then required to test the soil — something Wood claimed the previous owner had already done. Those tests delayed construction on Wood’s home by four months and cost him $3,000.
The fighting didn’t end there. After the frame of Wood’s house was completed, neighbors were upset that their view of the mountains was blocked. They went to the city to see if Wood’s house violated any zoning ordinances. In response, Wood erected some vents on the back of his house that he calls a cactus. Neighbors claim the image is of a hand giving them the bird (to see a picture of these vents, click here) and have gone back to the city to see if the vents violate any obscenity laws.
The whole incident reminds me of school kids fighting on the playground. Child A doesn’t like what Child B is doing and runs off to tell the teacher. Child B continues such behavior and Child A goes in search of the teacher again. Child B calls Child A names and the incident escalates.
You’d think that adults would learn to act like, well, adults. But civilized behavior and problem solving is often too much for us busy grown-ups to engage in. If you don’t like what the neighbor is doing with his property, call the government and complain. Upset at your neighbor’s behavior? Send them an offensive message. It’s all about being a victim.
There are ways to solve problems that don’t involve the city enforcing zoning laws or deciding what is or is not obscene. If Wood’s neighbors were thinking like producers when Wood began his excavation, they might have offered to help pay for the soil tests or explore alternatives that might possibly shorten the construction delays. Such actions would be in the best interests of everyone involved by giving the neighbors a chance to show that they were just as concerned about Wood’s home as they were about theirs.
At first I felt sorry for Wood. He bought a lot with plans to build a house and apparently has complied with the numerous zoning and building requirements. It’s his property and he can do with it as he pleases. Yet any sympathy I had for Wood and the infringements on his private property rights went out the door with the construction of his vents. He may call the shape a cactus but its real message is obvious. Apparently in that Riverton neighborhood immature behavior can be found on both sides of the fence.
A few homes may have lost their view of the mountains but the entire neighborhood has lost much more: civility and peace. So long as Wood and his neighbors remain in their homes, the tension will always be there.
Though it’s tempting to laugh at Wood and his neighbor’s immature behavior, it’s sad when one thinks about the examples which are being set for any children they might have. If mom and dad can’t engage in rational behavior with neighbors, what behavior can we expect from their offspring?
Sometimes loving our neighbors means taking the high road. It’s not making the rude gesture to the person who cut us off in traffic. It’s holding your tongue when someone makes a snide comment about us or not clicking the reply button to an intentionally hurtful email. Sometimes it’s about realizing there are more important things in life than a view of the mountains. Having good relationships with our neighbors creates more value than having our worst enemies in our own backyard.
Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” gives us a good model to follow:
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
We all share a common humanity. It’s too bad there are many who don’t understand what this means.
August 23rd, 2006
Our home owners association threw their annual BBQ/neighborhood party the other day. It’s a fun event to attend because it gives you an excuse to talk to neighbors and they usually have some things for the kids to do. This year the HOA hired a party company to bring a lot of party equipment for the kids — one of which was a 25 foot, inflatable slide.
Aidan couldn’t take his eyes of the slide. He refused to eat and kept running over to it wanting to slide down with all the other kids. His behavior was a little surprising considering it usually takes some prompting to try new things. Finally I took him over to the slide and helped him to the top. I was worried that he was going to freak out once we got to the top. But Aidan was so excited he grabbed my hand and started sliding. He laughed all the way to the bottom.
At the bottom Aidan started jumping up and down and said “Again! Again! Again!” We stood in line and in a few minutes found ourselves again at the top of the slide. We slid down and once again Aidan acted as if it was the most fun thing he had done in the short two years he’s been alive. Needless to say, we spend the entire evening going up and down the slide until the party ended.
That night as I put him in bed, all Aidan could talk about was the slide and fun it was. I leaned down and kiss his forehead and said, “I had a lot of fun too.” It was true. Seeing Aidan so happy made my week. It’s moments like this that make being a dad so great.
August 21st, 2006
I can’t believe how much national press this local story is receiving.
A vent cover on the side of a house looks like it might be a rude hand gesture. Then again, it might be a cactus, abstract art-style. It depends if you’re the owner or a neighbor.
“This kind of shows the attitude that we’ve been dealing with all along,” said neighbor Stan Torgersen, who sees it as a hand giving the finger, visible from all his back windows.
The local news won’t even show the entire vents in question without blurring the image. They have shown parts of it, however, and it’s actually quite funny when you see what the guy has done. (You can see a photo of it here.)
Marathon Girl and I both had a good laugh when we first saw this story on TV a few days back and both sympathize with the man whose building his house. His neighbors seem to be unreasonable and act like cry babies now that their view of the mountains are blocked. Perhaps they should ask themselves whose view of the mountains their homes are blocking.
August 17th, 2006
Pardon the new template….having some blogger issues that should be resolved soon…old template should be back before you know it. (I hope.)
August 14th, 2006
I hit a bucket on the way to work this morning. I was doing 75 mph on the freeway when my car plowed into it. It was dark grey and plastic and sitting in the middle of the fast lane. The headlights of the car caught it about a spit second before I hit it. There was no time to react or swerve. I mowed it over.
At first I wasn’t sure what I hit. All I knew was that it was stuck under the front bumper and made an awful grinding noise. I pulled over to the side of the freeway and tried my best to inspect the damage. The good news is that even though the bucket was large, it was made of plastic and was easy to dislodge from under my car. Apparently it didn’t do much damage to the car other than a couple of scrapes to the bumper. The car runs like normal and there doesn’t appear to be any leaks. (And I arrived at work wide awake with a good amount of adrenaline pumping through my body.
The situation could have been worse. I could have hit a person or animal and there could have been somewhat severe damage to the car. Fortunately it was only a plastic bucket that met its demise and all I just ended up with was a good scare.
Still, I can’t help but wonder what in the world a grey plastic bucket is doing in the middle of the road.
August 14th, 2006
In preparation of the new bundle of joy that is on the way, Marathon Girl and I are moving the boys’ bedroom upstairs and preparing the nursery. It’s a lot of work and there’s still a lot to do. When it’s all done rooms will be thoroughly cleaned, walls will be painted, and old furniture sanded and re-stained.
So yesterday a long evening of cleaning and moving and trying to entertain the boys at the same time, we sat on our front porch drinking lemonade and watching Aidan run around the yard. The sun was slowly moving behind the mountains and air was filled with an orange glow. It was absolutely beautiful.
Marathon Girl held my hand and leaned her head on my shoulder. I put my free hand on her pregnant belly, hoping to feel the baby move. We watched as Aidan found a bug in the grass and put it in the plastic container he was carrying. Steven was sitting at our feet and tried to get Aidan’s attention by shaking his arms and making noises that only a 10-month-old baby can make.
I love moments like these — moment that make me realized how blessed I really am. I love having my family together. I enjoy having Marathon Girl, the love of my life, holding my hand and feeling the warmth of her body. I love watching my boys grow up and play with each other. I look forward to the daughter that will soon join our family.
Life is such a gift and a blessing. May we never take it for granted.
August 10th, 2006
For all those Tiger fans out there (I know there has to be at least one other person!), check out the great article
on how the Tiger’s become the best team in baseball. Very in-depth and shows how a few shrewd moves and good scouting can build a championship team.
August 8th, 2006
She can’t be serious. That was my first thought when I read about the outrage over Helen Kirwan-Taylor’s column ‘Sorry, but my children bore me to death.’ I thought that perhaps Kirwan-Taylor was being satirical and misunderstood — like Jonathan Swift’s ‘A Modest Proposal.’ Surely no one would admit that their children constantly bore them. Then I read the original article (it can be found here) and realized she really is bored to death with her kids. Apparently parenthood is an inconvenience to things Kirwan-Taylor finds more important: her career, shopping, and chatting with her adult friends.
Kirwan-Taylor writes, ‘I spent much of the early years of my children’s lives in a workaholic frenzy because the thought of spending time with them was more stressful than any journalist assignment I could imagine…. I was begging the nanny to stay on, at least until she had read my two a bedtime story. What kind of mother hates reading bedtime stories? A bad mother, that’s who, and a mother who is bored rigid by her children.’
Being a parent is the most difficult and challenging thing I’ve ever done but it isn’t for everyone. It requires endless hours of sacrifice. There are diapers to change and messes to clean. There are sleepless nights whether the child is two or 17. It’s a lifetime commitment. Even after children have left the nest, parents still worry and pray for them.
And, yes, there are times when parenting is overwhelming, tedious, and boring. My two-year-old son’s favorite game is to stand at the top of the stairs and throw balls while I wait at the bottom to throw them back. After 10 minutes, the game is boring. Yet I play it with him for as long as he wants to because he loves it. The joy on his face is priceless and more valuable to me than any promotions, job, awards, or book deals.
Parenting, unlike Kirwan-Taylor’s claim, is more than feeding, clothing, and letting your kids know that you love them. It also involves showing that you love them. After work I could spend my time reading, writing, or watching Sports Center but I choose to play with my kids. The most rewarding moment of my day is coming home and having my two-year-old son greet me at the door, hug my legs, and then tug at my hand while asking me to come play toys with him.
Like all parents, my wife and I need some time to ourselves. We savor the rare evening out on the town together. Those few hours away don’t make us wish we didn’t have children; rather, it makes us energized and excited to be with them again. We’ve also managed to have an ‘adult life’ that Kirwan-Taylor craves without making our kids feel like they’re a second priority. I write books during nap time or after the kids are in bed. My wife trains for marathons. If you’ve ever seen her push our double-wide baby stroller while running sub seven minute miles, you’ll understand why her neighborhood nickname is Superwoman.
With parenting, like all things in life, you get out what you put in. Now that Kirwan-Taylor’s children are 10 and 12, they appear to show the same indifference towards their mother that she shows to them. She concludes her essay by writing, ‘They [my children] stopped asking me to take them to the park (how tedious) years ago. But now when I try to entertain them and say: ‘Why don’t we get out the Monopoly board?’ they simply look at me woefully and sigh: ‘Don’t bother, Mum, you’ll just get bored.”
Apparently the boredom cuts both ways.
August 7th, 2006
Results are in. It’s a…
Marathon Girl and I are both happy and excited!
August 3rd, 2006
Today Marathon Girl and I find out if the latest addition to our family is a boy or a girl. Cross your fingers that the baby will cooperate.
Addendum: If you want to guess on whether our new baby will be a boy or a girl, go to theabelhour.com and cast your vote!
August 2nd, 2006