Our Lady of Fatima... Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament... Hear us.
Our Lady of the Rosary... Strengthen us.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Funny Guy Friday... Soccer... Eesh...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So... I married a funny guy...
     I have a confession to make... I hate soccer.
     Always have.
     I played just about every sport as a kid but never played soccer. Not that I didn't think that soccer had purpose. I mean, it looks like you do a lot of running, so during the off season of the "real sports," soccer can serve as a nice little training program. Other than that, it's kickball with very little scoring.
     Wake me when it's over!
     So imagine my shock and horror when I came home from work and Cheryl advised me that Matthew was signed up to play CYO soccer. How did this happen? Especially during fall baseball?
     Cheryl explained: "My friend Sam is coaching a team and they only have ten players signed up. She sent out an email asking for some 7th and 8th graders to play. I wrote back and commented that the kids who were signed up seemed nice and that I wished that Matthew played soccer so he could join the team. Sam wrote back that it didn't matter that Matthew had never played; he would fit right in with this group. I then asked Matthew and he agreed so he is going to play. He is really excited." 
     Let me explain what went through my mind as she was talking.
     Sam... who happens to be a mom of thirteen kids... which of course MAKES HER A GIRL!... a girl whom I recall being a cheerleader in high school... is going to babysit a group of boys a couple hours a week while they kick a ball around. She probably only has six or seven of her own children in that age range, so she needs to fill in the gaps with other people's kids. The effort to recruit must be going so badly that she will take anybody, a hunch that is confirmed by the fact that she so willingly accepted Cheryl's offer to have Matthew play.  
     When Matthew was confronted by Cheryl with this cockamamie scheme, he did not have the heart to tell her no. He is not excited. He is a fly that has been trapped in his mother's (and Sam's) web. He hates trying new things, and more specifically, he hates looking like a fool. His mother has no such fear... He can look as foolish as humanly possible and she does not care.  
     My hunch about Matthew was confirmed when he asked me if I could provide him with some soccer knowledge. Dude, I have no clue... except that you cannot use your hands, and if you are any good, you will eventually end up with only one name. 
     Despite his mother's excitement, he was looking for a way out of this soccer debacle. It was time for me to step in and run interference for him with his mom and put an end to this nonsense. I know my son, and I know sports, so I would handle it.
     Cheryl, honey, Matthew is having second thoughts about the whole soccer issue. He does not want to play!
     Too bad! He has committed to Miss Sam. He is playing.
     First of all, YOU committed to Miss Sam. Secondly, the commitment does not officially occur until he attends a practice. And thirdly, the fact that you just referred to his potential coach as Miss Sam, tells me all I need to know. 
     I can't believe that you would let him quit! 
     How can he quit if he has never started? You need to understand that he is going to be the worst kid out there. He knows what happens when kids who have never played come out for our baseball team with kids who have been playing for years. 
     Really? What happens? Is he mean to them? Does he laugh at them? Do you yell at them and make them feel bad? Or do the two of you try to help them and make it enjoyable for those kids? Besides, Sam is not going to let it be a bad experience for him. 
     This was hitting below the belt. She was right, but it was still hitting below the belt. I hate getting hit below the belt.
     Matthew is very kind to those kids and I do go out of my way to help kids that are just starting to play. I hate when she is right. So, how would I explain to Matthew that I lost yet another argument with his mother.
     Ahh. I would go with the "this will provide you an opportunity to get some exercise and despite what your mother says, I think you can do it...you are a good athlete" explanation. I saved face and threw Cheryl under the bus all in one fell swoop. It was just good parenting.
     I was able to attend the first practice. Happily, Matthew saw some of his buddies and this helped rid him of some of his fears. Coach Sam cheerfully greeted him and handed him a bag full of shin guards and soccer cleats. Matthew and I looked like a couple of idiots trying to figure out how to put the shin guards on under his baseball socks... reinstating those earlier fears. So glad I could be there to help.
     I don't know much about soccer, but Coach Sam ran a nice practice. She was assisted by two or three of her older children. I realized that coaching and being a mom to thirteen kids might have a lot in common. Lets see... you have to let everyone know who is in charge. You have to know when to be nice and when to get tough. And you have to be able to understand kids, and find out what strategies work with each individual.
     I should have explained all of this to Cheryl when she wanted to let Matthew quit the team. Besides, I knew something Cheryl did not... Matthew is a pretty good athlete, and he would figure it out.
     Then I found out that Coach Sam was going to bring another mom on to the staff... Coach Maggie. You guessed it. ANOTHER GIRL. 
     Did these boys really need more nurturing? I wondered if Sam knew anyone who had actually had any previous coaching experience. What's that? Coach Maggie coached college basketball? Well then, the coaching staff was complete... But how would these boys react to two moms coaching them? I assured Cheryl that it would all be okay! 
     I am happy to report that after three games, the team is undefeated and in first place. And Matthew is doing just fine. Coach Sam and Coach Maggie are doing a great job, although holding babies and dealing with two year olds in the middle of the games has to be distracting. I don't think either one of them has actually breast fed during a game but if they do, I will just explain to my wife that this is okay, and it will all work out.
     How do I know that it will all work out?
     Because I know sports!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Funny Guy Friday.......A Nice Relaxing Vacation

   Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So... I married a funny guy...
   After much debate about where we would go for our family vacation, we decided that we would visit my sister Michel and her family in Houston, Texas, for a week.  My vote was for a week at the beach where I could relax with very little excitement.......but a nice relaxing week visiting with family and seeing the sights in Houston, San Antonio and Austin will certainly be okay......I guess.
    My sister picked us up at the airport and we were on our way to her daughter's volleyball tournament. Michel had an idea as to where the tournament was being held so we headed off in that direction.  Funny thing about Texas. It is big. Really big.
    If you have never been to Houston, I would like to describe the traffic patterns.  They have "access roads" to their freeways that resemble what we call highways back in Maryland.  Sixty mile an hour roads that dump you onto ramps.  Their ramps then have ramps that empty onto other ramps that eventually get you onto the freeway. But once you get off the freeway and travel a bit outside of the city, there is a whole lot of nothing for miles at a time.
     We got lost. Not exactly lost in the sense that we did not know where we were.......but lost in the sense that we did not know where we were going. When you do not know where you are going and you are going there for a very long stretch of time, people, er uh, my sister start to get frazzled.
      We finally stopped to ask for directions and this was my first introduction to Buc-ee's. Picture Wal-Mart and a Wa-Wa getting married and having a child.  Name me one other store where you can get gas, fudge, pajamas, a gas grill and beef jerky (in seven different favors) all in one stop.  Unfortunately, one thing Buc-ee's does not have is good directions.  Eventually, we found the gym in time to catch the last game of the day. The drive back to Michel's house was a bit more relaxed. This was more like it. We arrived safe and sound and began to plan our week.
     All of the sudden, my brother-in-law, Bill, burst through the door and greeted us with hearty hello.......and then he pulled out his revolver. Whoa, dude wait a second, my kids have never been around guns! 
     He insisted that the gun was not loaded, which I was sure that it was not, but my sister kept insisting that he stop waiving it around and pointing it near people. I figured if she were worried about it, than I should be worried about it. My words of caution seemed to hit home with Bill as he.........went off to get the rest of his arsenal.
     He then laid several guns on the table and invited the kids to pick them up and get the feel of what it might feel like to kill a man. I think that I am just kidding about the "what it might feel like to kill a man" part but I was so nervous I could not hear a word he was saying. Even if I had been able to collect my thoughts, it was hard to hear anything over Michel screaming, and I quote; Bill, be careful! Sometimes that one really is loaded!
     In an effort to end the gun show, I reluctantly agreed that we could go to the shooting range sometime during our stay. But in the meantime, we all agreed that we would freshen up and go out to get a bite to eat at their favorite Tex- Mex restaurant. There was a thirty minute wait, but that was okay because I had a chance to relax and enjoy a nice cold margarita and catch up with my sister and her husband. 
     For some unknown, God-forsaken reason, in the middle of the conversation, with no prompting at all, Bill decided to let me know how much he loved my sister. Specifically, he said, I have only had half of a drink so you know that I am not under the influence of alcohol when I say this... your mother looks better today than she did when I met her in high school.  
    Oh, that is so sweet!  Unfortunately, she is my sister.  
    After that, I was no longer relaxed. I was downright uncomfortable. Bartender, get me another margarita and make this one a double.
     The next day, we decided to visit a Texas State Park. This would be nice, I thought, being one with nature would help calm me down. Yeah, not so much. 
     Did you know that Texas State Parks have alligators? Real life alligators that eat people. Surely, they don't hang out where the people walk, or so I thought. In the first hour of our hike, we saw about twenty gators. Nice alligators that stay out in the water. It was the twenty-first alligator that caused the problem. 
     This six-footer was a foot into our ten foot path and opened his mouth wide whenever people passed. I advised those in my group that we should turn back but they all ignored me.  I then advised the group that included my wife, three kids, my sister and my niece that it was every man for himself, and since I was the fastest one in the group, they had better be careful.  
     Fortunately, we did survive gator-fest. 
     Unfortunately, this meant that we were going to the shooting range. My sister assured me that it was safe, that Bill would load the weapons and lay them on the counter so that the kids could only pick them up and could only point them at the targets.  He would go over everything with them before he took them on the range. Great, that helped settle my nerves a bit.  
     Somebody should have advised Bill of the safety plan.  His entire pre-shoot speech was as follows, I will teach your dad how to load the guns and he will hand them to you and you shoot at the targets. Be careful how you hold the spring loaded guns because if you hold your thumb too high, it will really tear up your thumb. Everybody ready?
    Not so fast Kemosabee! We are not ready and by we, I mean me. I am not loading those things and I am not just handing them to my kids.  Let's start over and don't blow over the whole thumb thing.
    We survived pistol palooza, in fact Grace and Matthew turned out to be pretty good shots. Me....I was too nervous.
    As dangerous as all of these activities were, nothing compared to what was coming. On Wednesday, we loaded up the car and headed for San Antonio. From San Antonio we were then going to spend two days at a real Texas Ranch   My brother-in-law was driving. Again, keep in mind that nothing in Texas is close to anything else so there was to be a lot of driving. Bill has his pilot's license and as far as I know, he has never had an accident. This will be a great time to get three or four hours of rest and relaxation while enjoying the  Texas landscape.
    Have you ever driven with somebody who occasionally checks his emails while still concentrating on his driving? Everyone has done this a time or two. Bill, on the other hand, concentrates on his emails while occasionally checking on his driving. I was longing for the days when my kids walked around with loaded guns while being chased by alligators.  
    On the road leading to the ranch, he did happen to have his eyes on the road long enough to say, Hey, we just ran over a tarantula! 
    Are you serious? When does this nightmare end?
    Well, I am happy to report that we made it safely to the ranch and we enjoyed a great time hiking, canoeing, and swimming in the river. The ranch had this great rope swing that took us over the water. We had a great time. 
     Then I saw Grace and my niece Katherine staring down into the river, right near where the boys and I were swinging and swimming. Hey, what are you guys staring at? 
     Okay, nobody sits and stares at nothing.......but they do tell people that they are staring at nothing when they know that the person asking will not be happy with the object of the stare. Turns out that I (at this point I don't really care about my boys) was sharing the river with a water moccasin. Have you ever heard somebody say that the snake is more afraid of the human than the human is afraid of the snake? Well those people are idiots. I got un-relaxed real quick. 
     I decided that the lake was not big enough for me and the snake so I retired to the pool. Now this is more like it. I am just relaxing, typing this week's Funny Guy Friday and anticipating tonight's bonfire.  Relaxing around a nice campfire is just what the doctor ordered. 
    Someone mentioned how dry things have been around here because of the drought but Bill seems to think we will be okay. 
    What could possibly go wrong?


Friday, September 14, 2012

Funny Guy Friday... Awwwk... warrrd...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So... I married a funny guy...
    Meet the awkward family. At least that is what my kids think about us this week.
    A couple of weeks ago, Matthew got invited to his buddy Ethan's birthday party. Cheryl took the call and advised Matthew that they would probably play a little poker and take a dip in the pool.  Made sense because last year they played poker for lollipops. Matthew went happily, in flip flops and shorts, carrying his bathing suit and towel. Notice that he did not have a present. Oops, I thought Cheryl had gotten it... She thought I had.
    Matthew returned a bit upset because it was not a poker and pool party; it was an air soft gun battle party. The other kids were decked out in their camouflage and dark ninja outfits. Matthew was an easy target with his white legs, and he had trouble running for cover in his flip flops.
    It was awkward... Plus... I did not have a gift!
    Welcome to the awkward family, Matthew.
    Then, last week, we were out of eggs. There is a market right down the street, within walking distance. Cheryl sent Matthew out on his bike to fetch a dozen. Noah wanted to join him, but had just recently learned to ride, so this was not a good idea. Noah was disappointed and let his feelings be known. Cheryl ushered him out of the house to work off some of his extra energy, to look for some great nature find for his discovery notebook. Off he went.
    About five minutes later, Noah walked back through the door with a dozen eggs. Cheryl asked where Matthew was, and Noah replied that he had not yet returned. This begged the question, Where did you get these eggs?
    I went to Miss Betsy's house and asked if I could buy some eggs from her. 
    Noah! You can't do that!
    What? Why not? I had twenty dollars. I told her I would pay!  
    Cheryl went up the street and returned the eggs and apologized. Miss Betsy was very kind and told Cheryl that it was not a big deal and pointed out that we have borrowed stuff before. Cheryl agreed but pointed out that we would never offer to pay!  Awwwk...warrrd!
    Then on Sunday morning, we managed to make it to the 9:35 Mass. Problem is that it started at 9:30. The church was packed, but the usher dutifully walked down the middle aisle looking for five seats together. Surprisingly, he waived us down to the third row.
    Once we made it down to the front, we noticed that there was not a lot of room, so we stood and stared at the pews while the first reading got underway. No room for five. We quickly decided we'd have to sit some behind the others... three in the third row and two in the fourth.
    Isn't it always the case, the people at the end of the pew never just scoot down, they hold their ground and make you maneuver around their knees like you're on an obstacle course. What made it worse this time was that I knew the couple that refused to yield. For a brief moment we had the problem of deciding who would sit with whom. By this time, we were halfway through the responsorial psalm.
    Once we took our seats and got situated, with the boys in front of the girls, I got a tap on the shoulder. This was way too early for the sign of the peace. Wait... this was no sign of the peace. The couple on the aisle had had a change of heart, I guess. They were offering to switch seats so the five of us could once again be reunited.
    I was caught off guard and did not immediately react. Then my friend said this was a one time offer, either move or sit down, but hurry up! Now there we were, Matthew, Noah and I, along with my friend and his wife were the only five people standing in the entire church. Fortunately, we were not sitting near the front in........the.......third.......or......fourth......row.  Awkward!
    Then on Tuesday night, Matthew had his first CCD class. We made a conscious decision to be early for the first week of class. We were so proud that we all had gotten into the car with an incredibly early start that we went in with Matthew and pointed out to the CCD coordinator that we were early.
    She was shocked, and mentioned that this was probably the first and last time we would be on time. Heck no! I assured her, We are on top of it this year. We were so happy that we went out and got ourselves a drink and a bite to eat. My brother joined us and we had a great time.
    Then at 9 o'clock, I got a text... it is 8:55 where r u?  
    What?! This couldn't be! Cheryl assured me that pick-up was at 9 pm sharp, and we were right around the corner. I had that panicky look on my face, and Cheryl said, You know, pick-up might be 8:45!  
    What? We had made such a big deal about being early and you mixed up the times! When we arrived back at the church, there was Matthew, his friend Ethan, and one of the teachers sitting on the curb waiting for us. Awkward!
    I mentioned to Ethan that it was nice of him to sit and wait with Matthew. Ethan said it was no problem. Besides, he thought that he might be able to pick up his birthday gift! Fortunately, we are on top of stuff like that and had it wrapped and ready.
   That is how the Awkward family rolls!!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Today's events unfolding...

     I bumped into a gentleman recently, who said he reads my blog but wonders why I haven't been posting any of my own writing lately... just the Funny Guy stories.
     I told him that since starting my homeschooling adventure last year, my time has been spent elsewhere, but he could check my sidebar for all of my favorite links and he would see where I go for my news and information.
     Then, I told him that he could really just go back and re-read everything I wrote about a year or more ago, and it's all the same stuff. Only now, it's all coming true.
     This week, we are watching the continued emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood as the violent Islamo-radicals that they are, not the refreshing new day of the democratic Arab Spring that the president and his media have painted them to be.
     We are watching in horror as terrorists attack our embassies in the Middle East on the anniversary of September 11, murdering our ambassador to Libya and several of our servicemen. Not because of some youtube clip, by the way. These attacks were orchestrated and required intel to find the safe house where the ambassador would be.
     We have witnessed the destruction of the American flag on the sovereign soil of our embassies and its replacement with the Islamists' flag.
     And Barack Obama appears at best completely disinterested. First apologizing for "religious insensitivity" toward these terrorists who have attacked and killed Americans, reading dispassionately from his prepared statement, before winging off to Las Vegas for a Democratic fundraiser.
     And we stand by and watch the repeated and most recent disrespect of Benjamin Netanyahu by President Obama. After all… Beyonce and Letterman await.
     And now today, the Fed announced it will further monetize our debt. Further devaluing our dollar.
     Here are just some of the stories I posted that are playing out in today's headlines.
     And we could see it all coming from a mile away.
Monetizing the debt (November, 2010)  
Egypt 101 (February, 2011)
The reason for bombing Libya (March, 2011)
International Crisis Group (March, 2011)
Remember the objectives of September 11 (May, 2011)
Obama's disdain for Israel (May, 2011)
America's Shadow Party (March, 2012)
Current events sum-up (June, 2012)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Funny Guy Friday... Brush with greatness...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So... I married a funny guy...
    Guess who I had dinner with on Wednesday night. You will never get it unless I help you out. One of them played in 2,632 consecutive major league baseball games and the other one is one of only three players in the history of baseball to have three thousand hits and five hundred home runs.
     If you guessed Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray, you would be correct.  Don't be too proud of yourself though, I just gave you a big hint.
     That's right, the three of us sat around and chatted about breaking into the major leagues. How it felt to play in an Oriole organization led by Earl Weaver. Weaver even showed up for a few minutes to add his unique insight. He reviewed all of Cal's and Eddie's feats... and then smiled and said that he taught them everything they knew about baseball.
     That Weaver, what a character. He was asked what he was thinking when he lost his last game as a manager......a devastating loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on the last day of the season knocking the O's out of the American League playoffs. His response was classic... I was getting cheered and I came out to acknowledge the crowd and all I was thinking was that I wish that Cal or Eddie would have hit a bomb and driven in a few more runs. 
    Cal went on to tell me how he felt the day he broke Lou Gehrig's record and why he decided to sit out the final home game of the 1998 season. Eddie described in detail the pressures of getting that 3,000th hit and that 500th home run. Both told me what it felt like to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I think that they felt comfortable with me because we were worthy adversaries that shared some of the same career experiences.
     What's that, you say, adversaries? That's right, competitors from way back. Back in 1982 I made my major league debut. I was pinch hitting in the bottom of the eighth when I worked the count to 3 and 2. I fought off a few wicked fast balls that probably would have resulted in ball four but I had expanded the strike zone... I was called on to hit and besides, who wants to walk in their major league debut?      
    Jim Palmer was pitching and he eventually threw me a pitch that I could handle. I hit a screaming line drive right at second baseman Len Sakata. Tough luck but that is baseball. Despite making an out in my major league debut, I was pretty sure that I made a big impression on Cal and Eddie.
     I was a little surprised that after an hour and a half of chit chat, they never brought that day up.  I would have slipped it into the conversation had I been given the chance. The truth be told, those two guys would not shut up!
     Okay, the truth be told, it wasn't just Cal, Eddie and me. You see, the two of them were getting inducted into the Baltimore Sports Hall of Legends, and I was one of about fifteen hundred attendees, in a ballroom at the Baltimore Hilton. Actually, we were lucky to receive a last minute invite from some good friends. Cal and Eddie had a nice fireside chat without the fire. It was awesome.
     But the rest of the story is true... except I did not hit a screaming line drive to Len Sakata... I popped up.  Oh, and Palmer was not pitching, it was some kid from their minor league system... probably the low level of their minor league system. Oh yeah, I was a freshman at the University of Maryland and the O's were just coming back from spring training. They reluctantly agreed to scrimmage our college team. It was hardly my major league debut.   
    But the rest of the story is true. I swear!
    Of course, this was not my first brush with greatness. I partied with Walter Cronkite. Yep... that Walter Cronkite.
     Cheryl and I got invited to a 25th anniversary of WETA by the same folks that invited us to the Hall of Legends dinner. Did I mention that they were good friends. Cronkite was the featured guest. There was a cocktail hour before the dinner and people were lined up to speak with Cronkie... we're pretty close now, so I call him Cronkie.
     I am not big on that kind of stuff and really wondered what I would say if I ever did make it to the front of the line. To be honest, I thought he was dead, but you really can't start a conversation with It sure is nice to meet you, I thought you had been dead for years... or You look great for a dead guy.
     Cheryl urged me to get in line and meet this legend. Despite her pressure, I resisted. Besides, the line was way too long and the dinner was getting ready to start.
     Then like the Red Sea, the line parted and there was my new friend standing all alone. He seemed kind of lonely. Cheryl continued to coax me, but I just felt funny going up to some dead guy and trying to start a conversation. Finally, I felt sorry for the old guy standing there all alone with nobody to talk to, so I gave in and went over to strike up a conversation.
     As I extended my hand, some lady came running up and said in a not so nice tone, Sir, we are getting ready to take some pictures... Would you please stand out of the way. 
     I told her, in no uncertain terms, that I was unaware that anyone wanted to take my picture... and that was no way for anyone to talk to a legend like Walter Cronkite.
     Oh... They want pictures of him... Not me… Oh... Never mind then!  I'll just stand over here.  
     No wonder the line parted like the Red Sea! He wasn't lonely, he wasn't even dead. He was just photogenic. How did I miss that?
     The saddest part of the whole thing was that I had decided what I was going to say to him, had that lady not so rudely interrupted. It is something that was unique to me... and it most certainly would have captivated his attention.
     What would I have talked to Walter Cronkite about had I been given the chance?
     If you guessed that I would have told him how I hit a frozen rope to Len Sakata off of Jim Palmer in my major league debut......you would have been correct. But don't be too proud of yourself... I just gave you a big hint!
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