Sunday, August 23, 2009

'tis the Season - for Football

Last fall Brandon played football for the first time. Boys his age, second and third graders 7 and 8 years old, played flag football: no pads, no helmets and no tackling. Instead each player wore a belt with a ribbon attached to each side. When an opposing player pulled a "flag" off your belt, you were out of the play. Most of the boys wanted to participate in the game, but some were not interested in learning and appeared to regard this as an escape from doing their homework.

This year at 9 years old, Brandon moved up to the B League where the boys are fourth and fifth graders. Over one hundred boys are participating. This year they're wearing helmets and pads and they're tackling. One of the first things the boys learned was how to hit and not be hurt yourself doing it. Another was how to tackle properly to avoid injuring that player. They have also had it emphasized that they must work together as a team.

Most of the boys have their heads in the game this year. Brandon's dad used to play football, and Matt has encouraged Brandon and worked with him so that he knows the importance of learning the plays and then practicing their execution. The other night Brandon was going through the drill for his position as quarterback, and since Matt was not home yet, Brandon asked Dawn to work with him. He'd tell her what the play was and where she should run. After a couple tries, he asked her to stop running in slow motion. She replied that she's a little older and bigger than his teammates and she was going as fast as she could.

After three weeks of two-hour three-nights-a-week practices, the youth football Kick-Off Classic was held at the community's football stadium under the lights Saturday evening. Opposing teams were paired and, as each came on the field in uniform, first the cheerleaders and their coaches then the players and their coaches, all were introduced. Then play began. Each team was allowed to execute ten plays against their opponent.

It was great to see the boys actually concentrating and working together. Of course there were fumbles and missed plays, but there were some well executed endeavors as well. Brandon passed off the ball without dropping it and the ball carrier held tight and gained some yardage. Brandon kept the ball in one play and managed to gain several yards before he was tackled. He also threw a pass (that was caught!) and the runner made more than first down yardage. They also seemed to understand their assignments when they were on defense.

In less than 20 minutes I made myself hoarse yelling in excitement. Brandon doesn't give any indication that he may tire of playing, so I'm going to have to invest in an air horn or cowbell if I'm going to have any voice after a real game.

Friday, August 21, 2009


On Monday it was three days and counting. Three days in Grandma's care until the schools are back in session.

I walked my mile at the track early, before the temperature succeeded in its march to make this another 90° day. Then it was over to pick up Brandon and Sophia.

Sophia can play by herself. But she's just discovered the cash register in the toy box and likes to "sell" items using the register's scanner. I got to be the customer: first, as her grandmother; then, a teacher; eventually someone else's mom. Each time I bought a bag full of books and puzzles which I then returned so that they could be put on display for the next "customer" to purchase.

Although Christian and Kelsi's mom is on vacation this week, Christian wanted to come to Grandma Sherry's to play with Brandon. The boys played quietly all morning with the Tech Decks. When they got bored, they asked if they could go out for lunch. Grandma Sherry told them to ask Grandpa Terry to take them. Evidently it wasn't a problem because minutes later their car zipped out the driveway. That meant I needed to take Sophia out for lunch. Three days and counting.

At two days and counting, Dawn took the day off so that she and I could do something special with Brandon and Sophia. I suggested another visit to the zoo, a drive down the interstate to a wild animal conservation preserve or perhaps a train ride. None of these ideas appealed to them. Believe it or not, they wanted to go shopping!

They needed school shoes and we visited numerous stores to find each the perfect pair. I gave Brandon and Sophia some cash with which to buy themselves something. I love watching their minds work -- how much can they buy or what must they return to the shelf in order to have some other item. Sophia visited Build A Bear and it took her an eternity to pick her animal, a snow leopard she named Sparkles. Brandon was quicker. He headed to Game Stop, a store that sells new and used video games. In five minutes he'd made his selection and we were headed out into the mall again. Four hours of shopping was time well spent, because they both had a good time.

Friday. Down to one day and counting. Brandon, Sophia and I spent some time straightening up the garage where miscellaneous toys cluttered the floor. Some were boxed up to carry to Goodwill and those beyond repair/usefulness were put in the trash. The girls' kitchen, beauty center, and washing machine will be recycled soon since the girls have lost interest in playing with them. The garage will be all mine again.

The countdown has been completed. Over the weekend bedtimes will be earlier as Brandon and Sophia prepare for Monday morning. When they arrive here after school that afternoon, the countdown to the next holiday will have begun.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hot Hot HOT

Hot Hot HOT!! Summer is finally here.

Matt and Dawn headed to West Virginia Friday afternoon for a grown-ups get-together. The plan was that Brandon and Sophia would spend Friday night until Sunday midday with Nana and Pap, Matt's parents, at their campsite. However, Sophia had been invited to spend Saturday afternoon at a pool party with some schoolmates. Allowed to decide whether it would be friends or family, she chose friends. So she stayed with me.

Saturday's weather yielded cloudless skies and a temperature topping 90°. I had to work, and the parents of the party hostess congenially offered to let me drop off Sophia early. When I returned to pick her up, she showed me some new water skills and then, without repeated requests from me, Sophia thanked her hosts, gathered her belongings and we headed home. The high outdoor temperature had warmed the inside air. Thank heaven for ceiling fans. As long as we didn't exert ourselves, we were comfortable.

I had prepared fresh corn-on-the-cob for Friday's dinner and Sophia ate her share and half of mine. On the way from from the gift shop Saturday, I picked up more corn. Dinner was light -- corn, cantaloupe and grapes -- and early -- 5:30. After playing hard through the hot afternoon, I expected Sophia to crash before dark. I was wrong. She was in bed at 8:00, but unable to go to sleep. An hour later, I sent her in to try again and she was successful.

I woke up this morning to find her in my bed. Kitty (the cat) routinely wakes up and demands breakfast (meowing incessantly) about 7:00. In order to let Sophia sleep, I had to get up to feed her. While Sophia slept, I sat on the porch and read the newspaper until 9:00 when she appeared beside me, tossle-headed and sleepy-eyed.

And so another day had begun. I anticipated a physically lazy day to recuperate from Saturday's activities. For me, that is. I think Sophia will be back in the water at home this afternoon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Give Me a Soft Chair and a Stiff Drink

There are less than two weeks until Brandon and Sophia are back to school. In the past three months there were days I thought would never end. But looking back, the summer has flown by. Today was the cream between the chocolate cookies. It was steamy earlier this week and will hit the high 80's over the weekend. But today the high was only 80 degrees -- perfect.

I'd told Brandon and Sophia we would do something special today and it was their decision to go to the Akron Zoo. It has interesting exhibits, is clean, easily navigated and only 45 minutes from home. A good choice.

The kids get crazy when they are excited, but eventually they got into the car with their bottles of water and snacks. This is a drive I should make more often, because even with directions off the computer, I managed to make at least one navigational error. Brandon was co-pilot, but he was reading waay too slow or I was driving waay to fast and we missed a critical turn. Fortunately I was familiar enough with the area from past trips that eventually we found our way to the entrance.

I thought that going midweek would ensure no crowds. Huh. When we arrived thirty minutes after the zoo opened, we were directed to the distant parking lot. But in spite of the high attendance, we were able to see the lions and tigers and bears (oh my!). And because it was not a hot day, the animals were active rather than displaying their usual lethargy of midsummer. After two hours both Brandon and Sophia were hot and ready to head back to the car. I'd promised lunch and they were ready to move on.

The rest of the afternoon was orchestrated by Brandon and Sophia. Our fast food lunch was followed by a visit to one of the national chain stores. I'd given each some pocket money and they were anxious to see what they could spend it on. Brandon had his eye on more Teck Decks; Sophia, on clothes. The first store didn't have what Brandon wanted, so we stopped at another.

Finally we plopped our tired bones in the car and headed home. Brandon sat down to play with his new apparatus and Sophia put on her new apparel. I sat down to read e-mail and watched the clock, waiting for Dawn to arrive and take the kids away. Now they're gone and I finally have my soft chair but I'm too tired to go fix that stiff drink!

Monday, August 10, 2009

You Roll the Dice...

It's Monday, one of the three days of the week Brandon and Sophia stay with me so Dawn can work with her interior design clients. I was concerned that Brandon would be bored today (and drive me nutz reminding me of the fact) since Christian who, with his sister, Kelsi, visits his grandmother next door to me, was not going to be here all week. I had the clever idea (self-preservation at its best) to suggest he bring a friend. My only trepidation was that they would have a disagreement and the need to referee could make this the longest day of my summer.

Thankfully those fears did not materialize. The boys entertained themselves by alternating activities -- either riding their skateboards until they could no longer ignore the 90-degree heat or returning inside where they built skateboards and did whatever else "dudes" do with their Teck Deck collections.

Sophia and Kelsi, 6 and 5, still have their ups and downs. Although they generally play well together, there are times when they tire of each other. Today, though, they both had uncounted "tattoos" to stick on their bodies. For two hours they cut them out, peeled off the plastic covering, laid them on places they could reach, covered them with a damp towel, removed the now-damp paper backing and finally, admired the newest addition. There's no use asking for cooperation when the camera comes out. The snapshot of Sophia sporting a tattoo on her cheek proves it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lazy, Good for Nothing

I spent yesterday thinking about getting dressed so I could do something constructive. At least get outdoors. Didn't work. I stayed in pj's, knowing that if I got dressed, it would lead to the walking track, where I should be, but didn't want to go.

So I spent a couple hours playing with the day's blog entry, and researched how I could make the classic template more personal. That effort made my brain tired. I changed directions and tried to read a new book. After getting to page 22, the story line being laid out in great detail, I felt as though I was wading through waist-deep water. Reading it was work and I wanted entertainment. It will go back to the library. A few years ago that book would have been read, boring or not. Back then I didn't start something without finishing it. One day I realized that I could start and finish a lot of self-appointed tasks, but I might miss out on doing something else that really interested me. So, no more. Don't like what I'm reading or don't like what I'm doing, I've given myself permission to stop and move on.

I've had a long weekend. Because of the luncheon on Friday, Brandon and Sophia weren't here. I didn't have to work (I volunteer, but it's still work!) yesterday. Today, I was determined to get out of bed and do something constructive. At 8:00 I was out the door to log a mile walking the perimeter of the neighborhood. It's time to raise the goal to two miles, but this is Sunday. Maybe tomorrow. Don't give me a hard time.

Back home I jockeyed for position to take a shower. When the cat (also named Kitty) hears water running, she regards it as her summons to drink from the water flowing down the drain. It's necessary to physically pick her up, turn around and back into the shower, setting her on the floor outside the stall door before it closes. When I finished and turned off the water, she was prone on the bathmat, forcing me to step over her. With the speed of cold molasses, she rolled to her feet and walked into the shower, looking back at me expectantly.

Dressed again, I changed the bed linen. While the cottons were in the dryer, I went outdoors to fertiize plants, perhaps for the last time this summer. Again, hearing the water, Kitty followed me along the sidewalk, waiting for her opportunity to drink. So when I finished, I hung the hose over the fence and watched with amusement while she drank her fill.

The only thing wrong with getting up at 7:00 is that when I finished the assigned tasks, the clock read 10:15. I still have a full day ahead, but now there's an interesting book on the table to entertain me. And there are pillow cases to iron if I feel like getting up to do busy work.

Friday, August 7, 2009

I should have said "No thank you"

I should have said "No thank you" when asked.

This is Hall of Fame Week in Canton, Ohio. It's a BIG THING to football fans -- a week devoted to the celebration of inducting player standouts - six this year - of the game. The week's highlights include multiple hot air balloon liftoffs, drum corps competition, TWO parades, ribs burnoff, enshrinees dinner, a concert and fireworks, and finally, the Hall of Fame game.

And a fashion show luncheon. My 80+ year old hospital lunch companion has held tickets to the luncheon for years. (Because of HoF activities' popularity, it's said "ownership" of event tickets passes down through families when ticket holders pass away.) I'm not into style trends, nor do the crowds of the week excite me, except in a negative way. But I failed to say "No thank you," so on Friday I was there.

How many ticket holders were there? The Saturday morning newspaper said three thousand attended the luncheon and style show. Cost per ticket, between $50 and $65. (I have to remember to send my hostess a thank you note when this post is finished.)

Goodie bags still rule, but the contents are less exciting than they once were. Now, many coupons, but only a few samples. The food -- chicken crepes, rice pilaf, vegetable medley and thick-as-fudge chocolate truffle torte. Great fare!

The style show featured several ensembles worn by models with figures rarely seen on women over the age of forty. Also strutting their stuff were three pre-teen girls, one with a bright-light personality that captured the audience. Three males participated: a late teen, a young adult and tall, gray-haired grandpa who is a regular on the HoF runway. The young men will probably never go near a modeling venue again; Pasquale loved the audience and they loved him.

Musical interludes were performed by contemporary artists I've never heard of -- vocalist Jennifer Johns and electric vioinist Cathy Morris. Although I didn't recognize the selections they performed, I found their presentations professional and enjoyable. That saying, "You can't please everyone" came to mind through the event: younger women were going to enjoy the afternoon much more than the grandmothers also sitting at the table.

In reflection, as I knew it would be, it was an interesting half-day. Do I want to go again? No, once every thirty years (the other time I attended, as a guest) is sufficient. But it is Hall of Fame Week, and this was my opportunity to participate.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's Time for a Change -- I Think

Since 2002 I've had a web page. It's been a rewarding challenge to write copy, select photographs and lay out pages on which I related the previous months' activities of Brandon and Sophia, reported on trips I took, or wrote the occasional essay about an event that made an impression on me.

While Brandon and Sophia were little, there were lots of pictures and many stories to share. But now they're older and don't require the on-going oversight of toddlers. Oh, there were times when I should have watched more closely, but overall, I'm just here to kiss the occasional stubbed toe or call the ambulance if one would break a leg skateboarding. And they flit from one activity to another too quickly to snap pictures.

So a blog it will be. Probably not frequent, but hopefully more regular than the uploads to the web page have been.