Thursday, April 28, 2011

More than a week ...

It's been more than a week since I last posted. And it's been MORE THAN A WEEK. I'll tell you that I just don't like flying all that much - and I get to do it again in just a short while. Needless to say, spring is really weird this year. If you can call it spring.

As I type it is 38 degrees. It is April 28th. I am halfway through a spring high school baseball season. And it snowed yesterday night in Minneapolis. Just sayin'.

I love ALL my family dearly, but right now, what I wouldn't give for a weekend AWAY from EVERYTHING!

If you've read my previous post, you know that my wife's gramma passed away last week. We went out to Denver for the funeral. Funerals are never fun. But it was nice to see everyone - everyone that just plain loved Grandma Kelly.

I thank my mom SO much for coming up and taking care of the kids while we were gone. And ... while we were gone ... my daughter got sick, my son had at least two evening events to attend, my daughter had to cancel/miss at least four appointments/classes, the high school team I coach got 10-runned (and 1-hit), and my assistant coach got a lengthy call from a parent. Nice :)

Deep breath .... (sigh) ...

Now. With Easter and Grandma's Funeral in the rear view, what else is in store? We'll see, but I'm sure we won't be travelling in the 'slow lane' for anything else this 'spring.'

Can summer just be here already - or am I asking to jump from the frying pan into the fire? Who knows. But God bless.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mortality and Immortality

As a person of Christian faith - confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church - it is this week, this Holy Week, that allows me to believe in the eternal life. Christ came to Earth specifically to die - and so shall we all. But He came so that we might live - not just our life of flesh in this world, but our risen life with God in heaven.

And so it is both difficult and reassuring that one of our family's beloved should pass this week. My wife's gramma was a blessing to all whom she touched. She was a rock - a mother of four, who burried two husbands of her own. She was a working woman for many years and a single mother for many others. Winnie was a grandmother and a great-grandmother. She was a dancer, a gambler, and a true friend. Winnie was heart and soul, and she was her family - still is.

Winnie passed this Tuesday morning. She was sick, she had suffered enough, and her time came. God called for her and asked her to take her place - to be at rest, at peace. Winnie will watch down over all of us who knew her and her words, her voice, will forever be in our hearts.

Bless you, Gramma. We all love you ... still ... always.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Eggs

If you haven't been able to tell by all the pictures from Halloween (pumpkin carving), Thanksgiving (making dinner), Christmas (decorating the tree), and other holliday activities, I like to watch rather than take part in the festivities. My wife loves helping the kids, and the kids love doing their part. I, on the other hand, just love watching my family enjoy themselves while I think about what the holliday means to me.

Spring is a season of rebirth. Easter comes to help us remember death and life together.

It is a season of changes, of differences. A chance to see and learn new things.

Spring, and Easter itself, bring so many knew ideas into our life. Easter's meaning to me is Christ himself. His death and resurrection guarantee my eternal life. The gift of his life reminds me to give all of mine. To help others live, learn, grow, and achieve - so that they to too might help each other. To me, the beauty of life is that we all live it together, for each other, and for Christ.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Concert Hall

My daughter's pre-school class went to a concert this past Friday. Love for music is a pretty cool thing in my mind, so I was hoping my daughter would really enjoy it. She seems to have a good appreciation for music (and dance), so I was expecting her to really get into the 'hands-on experience' with instruments and the orchestra concert itself.

I don't know if it was a bonus for me to have extra time by myself on Friday morning, or if I would've rather been there with her, but my wife decided to be the chaperone this time - as I went with our son when he went two years ago. My son really loved it - and liked that I had some knowledge, since I played the cello when I was younger. From the pictures and the description aftwerward, I'm thinking my girls enjoyed themselves, too.

The preschool takes a school bus to Concert Hall - which may be one the biggest thrills of the trip (seeing as how my pre-schoolers have always thought the school bus was 'cool' and they'd never rode it before).

Once at Concert Hall, the kids get a little introduction to instruments ... and some time to 'experiment' with them. My daughter liked the cello ... and the violin (especially since it was HER size).

She tried the snare drum, too. Her good friend doesn't seem to like the music quite as much, but maybe that was because of the performer rather than the song? : /

Either way, it seemed to be a great experience for my daughter - and my girls got to hit Olive Garden afterwards with their friends to have a nice lunch out, as well.

My turn to chaperone next time? Hope so. Don't think I want to miss that much fun again. :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sometimes, caring just plain hurts

Baseball practice was pretty interesting on Tuesday. We played a horrible game on Monday, losing 12-0 in 6 innings after competing hard on Saturday and taking one of the teams that usually finishes in the top 3 of the conference to extra innings, losing 4-3 in 11. So, I tried to challenge our captains to lead a little stronger and asked a couple JV guys to stick around and practice defense toward the end of practice. I typed out a practice plan, explained it to the captains, and stayed out of the way for the most part - watching and making sure things were going as expected - which they were, for the most part. I even donned the 'tools of ignorance' toward the end of practice since one of our catchers was sick and the other was heading to an independent study class.

I care, right? That's why I do things. I put almost everything I have into this part-time job coaching high school baseball. When we lose, I lose sleep. When we win, I win because I'm excited for the success the boys can feel. I want nothing more than for the 15 (or whatever number) boys we have each year to experience what being a part of a team that accomplishes something is all about.

So, when something happens - I feel it. Period. On Tuesday, nearing the end of practice, one of our junior outfielders (a JV player I had asked to stick around) stopped hard after rounding second base and broke a bone in his lower leg. I ran out to him and he was in pain. I grabbed his hand and told him to breath. My assistant coach called our trainer and then the player's mom. Many of our boys helped make sure that his stuff was all together. And a number of other players either ran to try to find some more help, or stood at specific locations to help direct the car that was coming to pick up our injured player.

Once we got him into a vehicle and on the way to a medical center, I walked toward the mound to take a moment - maybe thank God quickly for giving me the experience, energy, and serenity to deal with the situation. I didn't make it very far before squatting down and crying. All the emotion I had from holding the young man's hand came out. I eventually continued walking off the field, behind the backstop, and toward the tractor in our shed. I dragged the field and moved on. Our team was very caring in its response to such a dramatic event, and I am proud of how everyone helped and CARED.

I'm not sure what will happen with the rest of our week, our varsity season, or even with the rest of these boys' careers. I do know that this one episode, this one accident, has re-affirmed why I do things. Sure, I enjoy baseball, but I coach because I care. And today, I hurt.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Birthday Partied Out

When the weekend started, I thought that it might be a long one. And, wouldn't you know it, it was. Apparently my children have a lot of friends, because we had four birthday parties they were invited to this weekend.

On Friday, my daughter was invited to a pre-school classmate's party at Pump It Up. Always a fun endeavor for the kiddos. She had fun - at least she told me she did. My wife claimed that it was the most calm party she's ever seen at an indoor inflatable jumping place.

Saturday brought two more parties - this time for my son. Of course, the day started out with a 3/4ths trip to the mall to buy Easter clothes (wife and two kids - I had a baseball game to coach). My wife claimed this time that the kids were on their best behavior. They seemed to be when they stopped by the baseball field to watch the high school team I coach. I heard a number of "Hi, Daddy"s from behind the fence, so it made a 4-3 loss in 11 innings all the more bearable.

But, getting back to the birthday parties ... my son ended up heading straight to the bowling alley from the baseball field, and seemed to enjoy himself there as well. I picked him up, brought him home, and my wife soon deposited him a few blocks away at a sleepover birthday party for the night. This one must've completely drained him - at least he looked like it when we stopped by our friends' house later that night to check in on the adults - er, the kids :) ... (nine boys slept over. i think we really were checking on the adults)

In the morning we picked up our son and headed to church. Yes, we made it to church - even with all the parties. Had to - I proclaimed the first reading. And so there was one party left. Around noon, our boy went to his third party of the weekend - this time a trampoline party at Sky Zone. No, I am not kidding, between the two kids, they had an inflatable jumping place birthday party, a bowling party, a sleepover, and a trampoline party all in one weekend.

Round two is next weekend. Two more birthday parties ... so far.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Autism Awareness Month

Loving God,
Bless today in special ways all the children, adults and families who see the world through the window of autism. May Your Spirit burn bright in them and all who celebrate & honor the richness of our diversity during this Autism Awareness month. Grant us, O Lord, the wisdom to see your image reflected in all of our differences, and to recognize the unique gifts we each have to offer.

(Posted this on Facebook today, too. Not sure where I got it. Thought is was great. I think we need to think more and more about celebrating differences, about cognitive and mental difficulties and disabilities, and about generally helping and loving each other for who we are. Seems to me that 'winning' becomes such a catch phrase in all of society. I'm as competitive as anybody I know, but sometimes I think we forget that life is a 'team sport' and we are all, in fact, on the same team. We can't please everyone, and we may not all have the same plan to help - but our plan should be to help. Just sayin')

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pampered :)

If you haven't figured it out yet, I do most of the cooking in the household. Not because my wife can't cook - by far! She's a great cook and makes wonderful dishes - especially when she bakes :) No, I cook because I'm home and because I cook pretty well myself. Anyway, I've ruined my share of cookware so far. Needless to say, 'non-stick' should not go in the dish-washer. My bad.

So, my wife was invited to a Pampered Chef party a few weeks ago (maybe a month?) and decided that we needed new cookware. I couldn't have agreed more - especially since I'm the one who basically ruined our last set of pots and pans. A few days later, the new pan she ordered arrived. Awe-some! I will not be runining this one.

But that's not the end of the story. No. See, we decided to host a Pampered Chef party ourselves so that we could get the massive rewards and discounts. Well, really, it was Holly hosting, because I don't think any of my friends would've wanted to come over, sit around a table and talk about cookware and Pampered Chef products while eating 'girlie' appetizers and drinking wine.

I popped my head in and out while taking care of the kiddos and then getting them ready for bed on Saturday. Our Pampered Chef advisor was really great about the whole party, and at the end, when everyone left, I got to help make sure we got all our goodies ordered. I'm thrilled! Ok, so I'm not your ordinary guy. So what? I get to say I'm getting all my pots and pans ... and more. And then I get to go to coach baseball this afternoon. Life is really great, isn't it :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

How do you lose a video camera? ... Short answer: You don't.

Okay, so we have an older video camera that uses mini-cassettes but was very handy when the kids were born and were young(er). It has since been replace by a digital video recorder. The older camera is still nice to use for video-taping my baseball players. Easy to plug into most televisions and just use the on-camera controls to fast forward, pause, etc.

I've used it the last couple of years to record hitters during tryouts and then varsity players during batting practice. I use it to take a fourth or fifth look at hitters during tryouts, and the entire varsity team can use it to look at and disect their swings.

I went to look for it this spring so that I could record tryouts again ... and I couldn't find it. There are usually a couple of places that I put my baseball coaching stuff at the end of the season so that it is out of the way but ready to use when the season comes back around again. It wasn't in any of those places - neither at school or at home. I was starting to get worried. (and so was my wife)

See, I keep all the tapes in the bag with the video camera - because the tapes without the camera are useless, and vice versa. But a couple of those tapes happen to be from when the kids were born and very young - so, like I said, my wife was getting worried.

After two weeks, I finally noticed that I was missing several of the items I usually have in my office at school for baseball season. First, my stapler. Then, the small box of push pins. Finally, today, I noticed that my ice-coolers (for ice sleeves - good for icing arms after pitching) were also nowhere to be found ... and then!

Epiphany! I remembered that I had cleaned out the mechanical room last summer and had ended up with some extra room for a box - a box with ice-coolers ... push pins ... markers ... a stapler ... and a video camera bag - complete with video camera and tapes.