March Dadness Revisited

The spring soccer season just ended for my daughter, so I went back and re-read my March Dadness post. Here are a few things I learned about  kids, coaching soccer, and my daughter.

1. Kids are resilient – I anticipated tears this season. It wouldn’t have shocked me if my daughter cried on my shoulder about losing or not playing. After all, this was her first time in team sports and she is having to learn how to function in a new environment. Could she handle losing (we certainly did) and sitting down (she certainly did)? The answer is yes.  Not one tear. Zero. She was happy to play, she was happy to take a breather and enjoyed the experience. Turns out the whole team was like that. The worries of March were but wasted time.

2. Kids  listen and get better with practice – Did you know I speak Navajo? It’s true (no, it’s not) because that is the only explanation for why our team just threw the ball to the other team after being asked not to. As the season went on with practice and games, however,  the girls started to do things differently. They got better at throw ins, passing, setting up to defend corner kicks, and figured out that kicking the ball to the other team is not always best. I guess they knew Navajo all along.

3. Coaching is hard, but fun – The second game of the year, the real coach couldn’t be there, so I was asked (along with another dad) fill in. I played soccer 25 years ago, but was not what you would call a “student of the game” or “coaching material”. Turns out, I could do it. As the year went on, I continued to help coach. I found myself wanting to do it. The hard part was when they looked at me in between quarters for what to do next after being down a few goals.  The fun part was seeing them continue to play, get better and enjoy the game.

4. Expect Something Special –  After the first game of the year it was my belief that my daughter wouldn’t score a goal. She was a little lost, unsure about how to react, and not as fast as her team mates. I didn’t think she enjoyed it enough to stay with it. In the final game of the year, a team-mate passed the ball to my daughter and she took a shot. GOAL!  Her mom and grandparents were sitting right behind the goal and cheered loudly. It was perfect! She traded hugs with her team and they were happy for her – she just lit up (me too).

In the end, my daughter ran harder, was in better position and was more confident. She decided to play in the fall even before she scored the goal (that was the cherry on top). I have to remember she’s just a little girl, but is getting older and her confidence is growing. Even though she didn’t need my shoulder to cry on in this season, she knows it will always be there for her.

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Three Moms I Know – Happy Mothers Day!

Mothers…we all have one. Some were good and some were not. For me, I was blessed with a wonderful mom. But there were others along the way who also cared for me.  So here are few words about “three moms” I know and am better for it.

My Mom

I have always admired her sense of adventure, even though she masked it well. On the surface, she appears to be the collected, practical mom – but I don’t feel that is the case. She loves to travel, was a PC and internet early adopter, and a pretty good artist (can stand on her head, too). Now, she is a master gardener. Her water colors my be packed away, but her artistic touch can be seen in the gardens she grows – specifically daylilies.  When I’m at her home I marvel at what she planted – it really is beautiful. Love you mom.

 

Composite Mom

My friends moms occupy a special place in my heart.  They car pooled on field trips, threw birthday parties, took us to the movies, the pool and practices.  They hosted, fed, fussed and cared for me, even though I wasn’t their son. So thank you in no particular order to Mrs. Wiedmer, Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Horn, and  Mrs. McPherson. Without these ladies, things could have turned out differently. Love you moms.

My Wife

She blogs, cooks, cleans, plans, shops, teaches and manages our home. Kelly, like so many mothers, does the repetitive work of parenting very well. And just when she is about to pull her hair out, in come the kids to snuggle up with her – and it makes her day! The love they return to her just makes her beam. So Kelly, thank you for being a tremendous mother – it shows in all you do. Love you.

 

 

Something Learned From Monty Python

The other morning I could overhear my wife telling the kids “sit down and eat your breakfast”. She must have said it 10 times before they finally understood. It reminded me of one of my favorite clips from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

In the clip the king orders the guards to do a simple thing: “Stay here and make sure he doesn’t leave”. In just over 104 seconds, the king repeats the order to the guards 15 times before they finally understand.

This clip reminds me of being a parent. Like the king in the clip, you must repeat yourself to your children so they will understand what you want them to do.  Why? Because as John Prine sang, “kids don’t know, they can only guess”. They look to us to get a sense of what is true.

The clip also reminds me of being clueless. My life is riddled with guard-like moments where I’m unsure, even though I know what to do and know the truth.

So how do you know the truth?

In the last few years I identified some areas of focus in my life. There are others, but here are three which require me to know the truth:

  • my faith
  • being a husband
  • being a father

In each of these areas, I strive to be the king (certain of the truth) but other times I slip and am the guard (struggling). No matter if I am striving or struggling, here are three things I do to stay centered on truth:

  • spend time in prayer.
  • spend time in scripture.
  • spend time with like-minded people.

When I am engaged and doing these things, I am at my best. When I am not doing these things, I struggle. What about you?

The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down – Fare Thee Well

Just a quick post to remember the great Levon Helm – one of the most distinct voices in music and the best drummer/ singer (apologies, Phil Collins) in rock and roll history. In 1994 I got see him up close in Nashville at 328 Performance Hall. He still had it.

He played with Bob Dylan, performed at Woodstock,  sang  “The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down” and “The Weight” with the Band, was in movies, won Grammys, performed his Midnight Ramble concerts….a life in full to be sure.

You will be missed and thank you for the music. May your soul find rest and God Speed to your family.

Writers Block, a Monte Carlo and Music Videos From My Teen Years – Part Three

Here are my final videos for your consideration. I found that most of these are still visually powerful in helping  frame a time and place from my past, and maybe your past too. I added an honorable mention section at the bottom. Enjoy and let me know what yo think by replying to the post!

Don’t Come Around Here No More – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers,  1985

You either got this video or you dismissed it. I think I got it – Tom Petty made good music and had a sense of humor. A lot of people dismissed the video and him, until Full Moon Fever came out in 1989.

Money For Nothing – Dire Straights 1985

Behold the future! Computers? Microwaves? Sting? This video had it all and was the high water mark for Dire Straights.

And She Was – Talking Heads 1985

Maybe not their best song – or even video from 1987 – but in 2012 it’s still pretty cool. Weird cool.

Sledgehammer – Peter Gabriel, 1986

Before Sledgehammer, all I had to judge Peter Gabriel on for videos was Shock the Monkey. I am glad this video came along because Shock the Monkey was weird.  Bad weird.

With or Without You – U2, 1987

The Joshua Tree tour made a stop in Lexington, KY. Four of us piled into a 78′ Camaro and made the drive from Hopkinsville. On our way out-of-town, we had a brush with disaster: the drivers ed teacher from my school pulled up next to us at a stop light. It was a Ferris Bueller moment and did I mention we ditched school that day?

We ducked, he turned, and we were on our way to see U2! The concert was great and it’s a lasting memory from high school days.

Honorable Mention

Better Be Home Soon – Crowded House, 1988 – Not a big hit, but the effort is worthy of mention.

It’s the End of the World As We Know It – REM, 1987 – This was the first REM song I liked and gave me a reason to give them another listen.

(Get It On) Bang A Gong – Power Station, 1986 – Robert Palmer was on a roll! Who knew the guys from Duran, Duran could tear it up!

Addicted to Love – Robert Palmer, 1985 – Didn’t see this coming, but “Palmer Girls” became iconic.

Rain on the Scarecrow – John Mellencamp, 1985 – There was an interview with some farmers who were going under at the beginning of this video. We lost our farm a couple of years before, so I connected to this song/video/plight. It also reminds me of Farm Aid.

Stand Back – Stevie Nicks, 1983 – Most remember her for Fleetwood Mac, but Ms. Nicks was HUGE in the early 80s.

Legs – ZZ Top, 1983 – Cars. Chicks. Beards. Riffs. Perfect.

Hungry Like the Wolf – Duran, Duran, 1983 – Is the wolf hungry enough to eat Simon Lebon? Regrettably, the wolf is not up to the task.

Waiting on a Friend – Rolling Stones, 1982 – While watching this one you’ll see a wasted Keith Richards shuffle through the Village, fall down on a guy sitting on some steps, then shuffle off to a bar with Mick to join the rest of the band (along with some women of ill repute) and to “pretend”  play the end of the song as it fades out. I don’t think they knew what they were doing, but it was the early days so they get a pass.

Writers Block, a Monte Carlo and Music Videos From My Teen Years – Part Two

The list continues. These videos mostly come from 1984 and are “concept videos” – the video interprets a visual story of  the song.

Rock Box – Run DMC,  1984

Well, this one might be a stretch as a concept video, but it was different. It was rap. It was metal. It was good. If there is going to be one rap/hip hop video on my list (there doesn’t have to be any), this is it. Still run to this one.

Drive  – The Cars, 1984

“Who’s going to tell you it’s too late? Who’s going to tell you things aren’t so great?”

The party is over and it is time to go home. I love this video and song because it’s honest. You can sense the agony, helplessness, patience and love that make a relationship. Sometimes folks go into dark places and true friends do the hard things to help pull them out. At least that’s what I think.

Boys of Summer – Don Henley, 1984

Ray-Ban Wayfarers....cool.

Boys of Summer was the first time I heard the term “dead head“. It was also the first time I heard of  “Wayfarers”. I need to get a pair of those, because they are cool.

Say, you know what else would be cool? If the video was on You Tube…that would be cool…but it’s not.

Very uncool.

Summer of 69 – Bryan Adams, 1985

By my count, Bryan Adams would have been 10 years old in the summer of 1969. If he was rockin’ that early he was either a prodigy – or – this song is in reference to something else entirely. Anyway, I was 13 when this video came out I knew I just had to have a guitar. I bought one with money I saved up from working at a restaurant. After a few months…I smashed it, Pete Townsend style, on the driveway because I didn’t know how to play guitar. Go figure.

More to come…..

Writers Block, a Monte Carlo and Music Videos From My Teen Years – Part One

1980s Monte Carlo

1980s Monte Carlo

The following is an example of how my mind tends to wander:

Recently I had writers block, so I went on a run to get some clarity.  While running, a guy drove past me in a  Monte Carlo, t-tops out (a popular choice among many young Kentuckians – THAT was the car of my teen years). I was listening to Road to Nowhere from the Talking Heads on my run and remembered liking their videos in a weird, cool way. That got me thinking about other videos I liked in my teen years. Visions of Friday Night Videos danced in my head but that was OK because now I had something to write about!

So here is a list of videos I liked. It’s just my opinion. Some of these songs were Top 40 hits, while others were not. There are many guitars, synthesizers, an accordion and even a sitar. You won’t see Madonna, Michael Jackson or Human League. No New Addition or Fat Boys. No Poison, Van Halen or Hank Jr (why would there be ANY Hank Jr?). Also, nothing after 1987/1988. So, without further delay, here is my first installment:

Subterranean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan, 1966

To build something that will last, you need a strong foundation. At the time MTV launched, I remember my mom telling me videos were not a new thing and she had them in the 50s.  I dismissed this only to be stunned by videos of Elvis followed by Bob Dylan on an MTV segment called Closet Classics. That was the foundation.  Subterranean Homesick Blues  made an impression, because in 1987 Inxs had a video for a song called Mediate, that ripped off/ paid tribute to Dylan and that early video. Nothing new under the sun…..and that led me to the next video on the list.

Far Away Eyes – Rolling Stones, 1978

This one came from Closet Classics as well. I had watched other Stones videos but this one was different.  They looked like the Stones, but they were just kind of hanging out performing  a honky-tonk song in a studio. Straight forward and relaxed. No yelling, dancing or jumping.  These guys were  so cool…what a gem!

Heat of the Moment – Asia , 1982

In 1982 I was 11 years old. I wasn’t sure what the lyrics were getting at, but the video was cool and the guitar was loud. I remember taping it off the radio and playing it over and over and over and over.

Faithfully – Journey , 1983

My sister liked Journey, so I learned to like them. Separate Ways was my first choice for this post.  When I watched that video, I decided it did not stand the test of time – too much air key board and wall key board – so Faithfully makes the list by default. Also, this was a good one for middle school dances.

More to come……

Bluegrass on the Brink

When I heard about two old men throwing punches in a dialysis clinic in Georgetown, Kentucky on Monday I thought it was due to the Obama Care arguments in the Supreme Court. I was embarrassed to learn they weren’t fighting because of access to care or poor treatment. They weren’t fighting for the “right” to free healthcare.

They fought over UK and UofL

I wanted to write a post explaining why UK playing UofL is a big deal. I was going to touch on the basketball history of the schools, the larger than life coaches, the parade of All-American players who have come and gone, and the titles each school has earned. I was going to point to the lack of  pro sports in Kentucky as to why these schools are on a pro-like tier to the residents of the commonwealth. I was preparing to pay tribute to the Blue Mist and Cardinal fans who just find a way into any venue. What I want most of all is for Kentucky as a whole to avoid a black eye in front of the nation on Saturday.

What I want to see is two teams playing with passion and urgency. What I don’t want to see are drunks in blue and red fighting in the stands. What I don’t want to see is footage from Lexington of couches burning on Euclid Ave and cars being over turned on Muhammad Ali in Louisville.  I am tired of the avalanche of Facebook posts showing Cardinals being hung and Wildcats in coffins. It’s all a little too Hatfield and McCoy for me, so no more diabetic knuckleheads duking it out. Life is too short.

I’m a fiercely proud Kentucky native and really do like seeing UK and UofL in the Final Four. Any chance I get, I will work a reference into my home state. Granted Kentucky lags in education and income, and tends to lead in tobacco use and unemployment, but it is where I was born and my family still lives. Many of my fondest memories are set against the backdrop Western Kentucky. To me, this weekend represents an opportunity. It’s a chance to show the country that these two schools and their fan bases can co-mingle on a national TV, be passionate, be supportive, and not let things get ugly. It’s a chance for the commonwealth to put it’s best foot forward on a national stage and could be the perfect lead into the Kentucky Derby on a world stage only 4 weeks from now.

So tonight, Final Four eve, the Bluegrass is on the brink (Divided We Fall). Only one of the schools will advance to the championship game on Monday. If it’s Louisville then they earned it. Coach Pitino will have his team prepared and he will have the upper hand over his chief in-state rival. If it’s Kentucky, then they are fulfilling what many thought at the beginning of the season. Calipari will be in a title game again and have a chance to wipe away past alleged transgressions. Either way, a team from Kentucky will play for the title ( United We Stand).

That is fine with me….I just hope it’s UK.

The Hungry Games: A Short Tale of Bad Steak and a Good Book

Fritos are good, but should your steak taste like one? Can a mere book be good enough to make you forget how bad dinner was? I guess so.

Not sure which is more disturbing: the beef we bought from a local farm and attempted to eat tonight or my wife being totally hooked on The Hunger Games.

My Beef

We recently bought a portion of a cow from a local farm. Before we bought, we got a sample to try. It was good, but I am positive what we brought home in mass from the farm was not from the same cow. The ground beef, the steaks, the roasts – all taste like what this cow must have been stuffed with in its final moments: corn.

Imagine  going through the trouble to grill a steak, but what you taste is a corn chip….. a big fat, grilled Fritos corn chip, without the satisfaction of a hearty crunch. Not even a Stubb’s (“Ladies and Gentleman, I’m a cook” – love that and it’s right there on the bottle) bath can salvage this meat.

Nope. Just terrible.

The Hunger

Fitting that Kelly is reading a book with hunger in the title, because we (me) are hungry but she is being “fed” by this book. If the house caught fire this red-hot second, she would exit said inferno at the chapter break. With the movie coming out Friday, many folks are reading and Kindle-ing the book, so she’s not alone in being consumed by this. At a really crowded Starbucks today, I noticed only two books on the tables: The Hunger Games and The Bible. Good company, I suppose.

The Remains of the The Day

It’s after 9pm and I should be hungry, but my appetite is lost. I’d like to talk to my wife, but she is in bed reading her book and nothing will compete for her attention. I think I’ll watch some hoops or maybe The Office.

That’ll show her.

March Dadness

Madness is in the air.

After all, it’s March and the NCAA tournament is in full swing – 16 teams remain. All the number 1 seeds survived, but the number 2 seeds were not so fortunate.  The first and second rounds have played havoc with office pools. In addition, the Peyton Manning saga has been in full swing. Nashville was a host city for the opening weekend of the tournament, yet local media seemed focused on Manning (at least when I was listening) and if he would become a Titan.  Spoiler alert: he did not. Shocker.

Around the home, madness is in the air. So far in March there have been two birthdays, out-of-town family weddings (including my sister!), allergies, cutting the grass (more allergies), planting the garden, work-life challenges, a drop in exercise and I’ve been neglecting my morning quiet time. Now add to that a brand new madness starting tonight – my 6-year-old daughter has her first soccer game!

As a dad who played a few youth sports and enjoys competition, I have mixed emotions. Is she prepared? Will she get hurt? Will she be a good sport? Will she make friends? Will she lose or gain confidence? Will she enjoy playing team sports? I remember being her age and playing youth soccer in my hometown and LOVING it. Thinking back, my skills were OK, and what I lacked in that department, I made up for in competitive spirit, but that was me (in youth basketball I was once on a team that scored only scored 7 points in a game – I was discouraged, but wasn’t allowed to quit – glad I didn’t). I want her to enjoy soccer – and if she loves it, that will be fine with me – but I don’t want to make her love it. After all she is only 6 and has her whole life in front of her.

So tonight at 6pm my bracket, my work demands, Peyton, the yard  – all get put aside.  I will sit with my wife and son and watch soccer. I will cheer her team – The Swans – and  I will cheer for her. If they win, I will celebrate. If they lose, I will lend a shoulder to cry on ( that’s what my shoulders are for these days) and encourage her to stay with it. Either way, tonight at 6pm, the twisty road of being a dad takes a new turn and I will need to be ready to jump in.

Let the dadness begin!