Sneaky, snacky 10 year old

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There is a board game that the little guy has had since he was a toddler called ‘Sneaky snacky squirrel ‘ that’s a lot of fun. The players spin a wheel that lands on a color. You then collect an acorn that has that color on the top. The first player to get all 5 colors in their stump wins the game. But watch out, there’s a spot on the wheel that allows the player to be ‘sneaky’ and steal another player acorn of any color.

So where am I going with this? Just a review of a children’s board game?

Nuh-uh.

We have our own sneaky snacky squirrel!  So I work from home and have since the start of the pandemic. I  either pick up the little guy after school or on some days he walks home. That’s fine. The problem is when we get home I usually still have quite a bit of work to get done. So I usually go back to my desk in the back bedroom and he does work up front. I try to go check in on him to make sure he is doing what he is supposed to be doing (let’s say I have to course correct more often than I would like to admit).

Still haven’t gotten to the snacky part yet. Well, throughout the rest of the evening, I can’t tell you how many wrappers I find throughout the apartment! In the couch! Under throw pillows on the couch! Under the couch! Everywhere BUT the trashcan. If that’s not bad enough, he feels like he has to hide it. I can’t tell you how many times I go up front and the second he realizes I am there he is trying to hide something! I tell him all the time to just ask me, I’m usually going to say yes, as long as he is not overdoing it.

I don’t mind him having a snack, but the hiding and inability to throw away a wrapper is really wearing on me and newmom. I really want to trust him but damn he makes it tough sometimes!

Until then I am just going to have to be more diligent and watch out for our sneaky snacky 10 year old!

Just a note, I am not getting any promotional consideration from the makers of sneaky snacky squirrel. But it’s an awesome game for a family with young children!!

Fourteen

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This is a break from my usual ramblings. Today I am not going to talk about the little guy, but I am going to focus on one of the best decisions of my life.

Of course I am talking about my better half. The woman I love. Newmom. Today is our fourteenth wedding anniversary. Although I have called her wife for as long as I have, sometimes I still can’t believe I am married!

It hasn’t always been easy, and it hasn’t always been fun, but I can’t think of anyone else at my side. Through all the ups and downs we have been through, she still puts a smile on my face.

As we continue to navigate marriage and parenthood I am sure there are many more adventures ahead.

As we said fourteen years ago, for better or for worse, here’s to many of the former, a very few of the latter.

I do!

5th Grade (already?)!!!

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NOTE: this post is long overdue. The little guy started school in mid -July.

In another slow return to the life we knew pre-pandemic, the school the little guy attends is returning to a year round schedule. This means the summer break is over already. It’s a pretty short break. but long enough for the little guy to decompress from the previous year.

It’s pretty foreign to me to have such a short break, but here we are. I remember growing up how the last days of August marked that school was right around the corner.

One of the big changes for me is how quiet it got. I work from home and during the breaks the little guy is home with me, so there is noise in the apartment. When he’s in school, it’s just me and the fluffball.

With each passing year, I am learning that any and all expectations I have should just be thrown out the window. One thing about 4th grade is we seemed to have quite a bit of homework. This year I expected the same if not more. So far (we’re about 6 weeks in) that has not been the case. It’s actually been just the opposite. Newmom and I have asked each other multiple times if we are missing anything. Another one of our friends with a son in the same grade got a letter saying that there is no homework in his school!

Newmom and I have been pretty on top of the little guys work and it is strange to us that there just isn’t a lot to follow/monitor. But we have been told that the onus falls on the students more than the parents as they advance. Just taking some getting used to.

We do like his teacher this year. We have been blessed with good teachers so far. We haven’t really had too many concerns so far.

Here’s to 5th grade. Hope it is another positive year for our little guy and he has a solid year both developmentally and socially!!

Ready for what’s next!

I’ve been thinking…

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…about my dad

An awful lot recently. The interesting thing about that statement is not so much that I miss him (which I do) but more about all the things he has missed. My relationship with my dad has had many phases, some of which I have written about in the past, but towards the end of his life, we were actually as close as we have ever been. the very last interactions I had with him before he passed were the worst I can remember, even at the worst of times.

This is a bit different. People who have lost a parent that they were particularly close to will understand this. I would give just about anything to have 5 minutes on the phone with him. To be able to ask him if he saw the little guys’ last effort on the mound, to ask him how proud he is of the little guys’ efforts to finish 4th grade and make to the honor roll, to ask him what he thought of my coaching efforts. Just 5 minutes. There are so many questions I have, nothing that could take ONLY five minutes.

So this weekend I am away enjoying a vacation at Big Bear lake with Newmom’s entire family. Newmom’s Dad, my brother in law and I have all lost our dads. the conversation turned to this and we all had conversations about our dads. It was a great conversation and it is interesting to hear about how everyone’s experience is so radically different. Every experience between a father ans son is different and i wonder how our little guy will talk about me when he is no longer able to call me on the phone, or stop by our house because i have gone home to my final destination. I hope he will look back with fond memories and be able to share his experiences as a son.

Dad, I miss you and I hope my brother in law is right, you have been looking down and seeing all the things I wanted to share with you. Until we are together again. I will continue to miss you everyday and continue to wish I could have that 5 minutes on the phone with you.

A day at the Ballgame

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Every year in the spring, Youth Baseball leagues will have a day at the park if they are fortunate enough to live in a MLB market. Well, we are lucky enough to be in proximity of two MLB markets. We had a day at the park with the Los Angeles Angels. We got to go and do a Little League parade where the teams get to walk the infield.

So the League participated in the event and we got a couple of tickets. of the 11 players on our team, I had four of the kids participate in the Parade. We lined up early and the other dads went to the stadium and I waited with the boys. Once we got started it was a long line ahead of us and we eventually got to go into the stadium. the boys really enjoyed the experience (I did too!) and we eventually made our way around and entered the stadium. We got to see a lot of the other teams from our league in the stands, I was talking to the league president and he said they sold almost 900 tickets for the event!

We got to enjoy a great game! We were out in the bleachers and it was a pretty hot day, but the dads seemed to roll in with trays of Icees for the kids and more adult beverages for the dads. And one of the dads brought a bunch of packs of baseball cards for the kids as well (more on that soon!). As the game went on, I kept seeing other areas in the shade and we moved not once but twice! When it come down to the last three outs, i asked the kids if they wanted to move even closer to the field and we ended up just rows off the field on the first base side. We had a GREAT view to finish the game.

it was definitely another memory for a memorable season!

Our original seats
First Move (into the sweet sweet shade)

final seats!

Nerf!! The battle to end all battles

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Recently newmom brought it to our attention that there was an amazing opportunity to us. Her brother in law, the little guys Theo brought it to our attention that there was an amazing opportunity. There was a Nerf battle that was going to occur at Sofi Stadium. Yes, the same stadium that host not one, but TWO NFL franchises! We had the opportunity to shoot nerf guns on the field where the last Superbowl was played.

So it turns out there is a You Tuber named Jared that hosts the world’s biggest Nerf battles. He has hosted these at ATT stadium in Dallas Texas (home of the cowboys and college national championship games) and this was his first foray into SOuthern California.

It was awesome to bring our little ones (the little guy and his cousins) to the stadium to play. We were all armed to the teeth with nerf guns and bullets. Ready to go!!!

This was all of our first experiences at Sofi Stadium, and it did not disappoint. WOW! What a venue. It was beautiful. What an experience to be on the same field where Cooper Kupp and Arron Darnold play ball!! We had an amazing time!

I am not going to lie, it was fun shooting my little guy with a nerf gun! My niece totally lit me and newmom up on the field. We had to chase them down to get our revenge! it was soooooooo much fun!

Huge kudos to Jared and his team, they really made it an enjoyable event. We all had a great time! We are totally looking forward to next year and already planning for it!

I will add pictures to this post as soon a possible

Welcome to Tesla town!!

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We live in a very affluent area of one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. I am not bragging, trust me we are not ‘affluent’ in any way. But I will say seeing a super car (Ferrari, Lambo, Bugatti) that cost more than the house I grew up in is a common thing.

One thing we noticed is the number of Teslas we see daily. I would count how many were in the parking lot that I dropped the little guy off in for school. Our record is 13! That’s in a single parking lot on a weekday for school drop off.

So part of my coaching last season was monitoring my pitchers and their pitch count. To do this more effectively, I bought a pack of counters. Just little hand held clickers that you close your hand and it clicks to keep count. I decided that I would keep one in my car and start tracking how many Teslas I see when I go somewhere. Remember that I work from home, I have since the start of the pandemic. So I don’t travel very far.  Remember that.

So I think the record is from our apartment (remember, NOT affluent) to the baseball park, a total of 5.3 miles. The little guy and I counted 53 different Teslas!!! Just now, we drove home from the little guys pitching lesson and counted 22! There are a couple of intersections close to our home that if i get stopped at a turn lane I am guaranteed to see 9-12 in one cycle of the light.

It is Elon Musk’s dream becoming a reality. I have to admit, I had Tesla Envy for the longest time. I wanted to get the Model three when the promise of “an affordable Tesla” was made. My dream of a three came to an end when I got to sit in one and it was just too small (i’m a pretty tall guy. not NBA tall, but tall enough where i need a little extra legroom). Now if Elon ever reads this and wants to gift me a Tesla, I would never say no (And Elon, please hurry up and buy Twitter!). Elon, I would write reviews for you as well.

I told one of my very best friends that The little guy and I were counting Teslas and the very next week he called and as soon as I said ‘hello’ he replied “I hate you”. I had to ask “why do you hate me this time?” and his reply: ‘Seventeen’. I KNEW exactly what he was talking about. He sent me a picture of the lane next to him that had three Tesla’s in a row. We truly live in Tesla Town!!

I am not 100% sold on EV’s, there are still a lot of unknowns, like what are we going to do with all of these batteries once they wear out? How are we going to dispose of the materials? How do we account for the additional strain to the infrastructure for all of the electricity these vehicles are going to need. It seems there are stories about the “plans” to address these but no one seems to really provide answers. So I am a bit leery but still wouldn’t pass up upgrading my vehicle (*psst, Elon*). I have been watching the news on EVs recently and i am excited to see what the future holds for us.

We celebrated a new birthday…

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So last year we added an adorable little fluffy ball of cuteness and destruction into our home. Our little lovable rabbit named Biscuit (who is both adorable and a chewing machine!). Based on the information the lady we adopted him from, we were able to figure out his birthday is May 30th. Or at least that is the date we settled on. So we recognized two dates, His birthday and the day we brought him home.

SO how do you celebrate a rabbit’s birthday? Well to be honest i never thought that question would ever enter my mind. Newmom and the little guy wanted to get him a birthday hat, and after a bit of searching, they found one!! Biscuit was not terribly fond of wearing the hat, and after multiple attempts, I was able to get at least one usable photo of him wearing it (it didn’t stay on long).

Well, after the Hat attempts, we gave him his birthday treat, a ‘lollipop’ topped with a chunk of Banana. Rabbits LOVE fresh banana, it is like the best treat they could ever want. So on special occasion we will give him a chunk. We decided if we can’t get him wearing the hat, lets try to get a few pictures of him near the hat. That plan worked a bit better.

Well, he gobbled up the banana and made short work of the lollipop. Even though he really had no idea what was going on, only that his humans were trying to torture him with some awful contraption they kept putting on my head. He did enjoy the treats.

We will celebrate his first day with us later this summer and continue to love the heck out of him. I never thought I would be celebrating a rabbit’s birthday, but he has brought all of us a great deal of joy, it was awesome that we could.

Oh yeah, we finished 4th grade…

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While i wasn’t writing, the little guy crossed another milestone, he finished fourth grade! This was a pretty big deal, as this was the first year he was in ‘upper division’. It was also the first year he received traditional grades (A, B-, C+, et.) so it really provided a better feel of how he is really doing in school.

One of the biggest differences was that the onus and responsibility of the student’s work really reverted to the student, with a lot less hand-holding that the students had in the lower division. This caused more than one meltdown/argument at home. I feel like i need an FBI interrogator to get information on some of the little guys homework and projects.

Oh my, the projects. It felt like they never stopped. Maps of the California Central Valley, A mission flip book, reading graphic organizers. The projects never stopped, and I know this is only the beginning. Fortunately, I can still help with all the homework, including math and science. I am not looking forward to the day where he comes home with homework that I cannot assist with.

I think some of the best work the little guy has done has been this year. He really impressed newmom and I when he decided (yes, HE DECIDED) that he wanted to make the honor roll in the third and final trimester of the year. He pushed himself harder and really studied hard. And he reached his goal. Total proud parent moment there for us both.

We wrapped up the year with the Spring open house which was the first event we got to attend in person since Covid started. It was awesome seeing his desk and all the work he has done in class.

Well, it is a short summer as we return to the year round schedule, and we have no idea what 5th grade holds for the little guy and us, but whatever challenges lie ahead, we will attack them head on!!

Coaching.

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So the last post I wrote before my ‘break'(that’s what I’m calling it) was about the beginning of our Spring 2022 baseball season. We were the Giants. I was originally registered to be an assistant coach but through a series of incidents, I assumed the role of Head Coach.

This is the second time I have assumed the Head Coach role, the first was the Spring of 2020, the season that got cut short due to Covid. I never really thought of being a head coach, I never really wanted the responsibilities that came with it. I have spent the past few seasons really watching other coaches, picking up things I liked from them, trying to emulate them. I knew there was a lot involved with coaching, but little did I know how consuming it would become.

I really never stopped thinking about the games. The one we just had or the one next on our schedule or even the one after the next one. It never stopped. Missed plays and bad baserunning decisions haunted me for days after they happened (hell, they haunt me now, three months later). Hours go into trying to come up with the perfect lineup and the continuous second guessing that makes you rewrite it six times. Pitching is especially difficult, because you can’t burn out your kids, if you play a kid at pitcher, you have to monitor pitch counts, because if they go over, then they are ineligible to pitch in the next game.

You take the players development personally. If you think a kid is not progressing at the rate you feel they should, or they digress, you feel like it is your fault. I was pretty fortunate, I felt like all of players on my team finished the season better players than when they started. When you go over drills week after week and you see the same mistake repeated, you feel like it is your fault. You start second guessing your abilities and wonder “what am I doing wrong?”.

Practices. As a coach you are either the first to arrive or close to it and always the last to leave, picking up all of the miscellaneous items your players have left behind (water bottles, jackets, bats, gloves). There is also NEVER enough practice time. You can have Practice every day and it still would not be enough. The frustration of having what you as a coach considered one of your best practices of the season immediately followed by one of the worst games of the season, the thought of “we just did this! Did you all forget what we did less than 48 hours ago???” Conversely, you can have the WORST practice of the season and the boys play their best game so far (but that is never consistent, but it does happen, usually more than once during the season).

What a great segue way to talk about the games. When you are coaching at the Rec ball level it is all about teaching fundamentals and sharing the love of the game. Winning is supposed to came far down in the list of priorities. But tell that to the kids who just lost their 5th game in a row. Remember before when I said you feel like it is your fault? Yup. You take each and every loss like it was you who missed the ball at 2nd and watched it roll to the outfield wall because your center and left fielders were out of position. It was very difficult at times to stay positive and there were multiple times where I was reminded that I was not doing a good job of being positive. Games were not made easier when we had to adjust lineups the day of the game because you got a text that a player couldn’t make it. As much as it appears I may be pointing out all the negatives, the games were a lot of fun, and it was awesome when you saw the team or individual player make a great play or get a solid hit. It was just the opposite of the feeling I described before; it was more like “just like we taught it to them” more than “what am I doing wrong”.

It is nearly impossible to be a head coach without solid Assistant coaches. I was fortunate enough to have my father-in-law at my side. He was an assistant when I coached in 2020, but we never got the opportunity to see how things went when the season got cancelled. I also had a couple of good guys supporting us as well. It is also good because let’s face it, our kids don’t always listen to us, so it is nice to send someone else out there or for our kids to hear suggestions/corrections from someone who isn’t us.

I could go on and on and on, but I will wrap it up. It is not easy being a head coach, there are a lot of things you didn’t know you were even responsible for or learn along the way. The best affirmation I got that I did a good job were both parents and kids asking if I was going to coach the next season and if I were, could they be on my team. The Fall season is quickly approaching, I do not know what the future holds, but if I do end up being a head coach again, there are so many lessons I learned along the way this season that will help me be an even better coach moving forward.