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

Friday, May 29, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Hail Mary, Full of Grace...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
    I still remember the first time. I was as nervous as I had ever been. I sat and watched and listened to those that went before me. Sweat dripped from my forehead... I had to get it right.
    I thought I had it... but then the unthinkable happened... my turn rolled around and they skipped right over me.
    Of course, I am talking about the first time I had ever heard the Rosary. I was at a friend's house after their father had passed away. At the time, I was not Catholic... but all my friends were. On a side note, my friends made quite an impression on me when no matter what we did, or where we went, they always made it to mass on Sunday. Pretty impressive when you consider that I was typically the designated driver... and they were not... if you know what I mean.
    Anyway, a priest arrived and suggested that we all pray the Rosary. 
    I was raised as a Lutheran and I had never really heard a Hail Mary on our side of the tracks... except on Sundays when some team threw a bomb in the waning seconds of a football game!  
    Now the priest definitely said all pray the Rosary... not just the Catholics in the crowd. To be fair, I thought we were all going to put our hand in the middle and raise them in the air while yelling HAAAAIL MARY!!!
     I was all in... and a bit embarrassed when mine was the only hand in the circle. I grabbed a seat in a semi-circle that had formed and the fun began.   
     Clearly the priest was going to lead the thing, as he was first to pull out his necklace. These were popular necklaces because everyone had one... except for me.
     I was not sure which way this Hail Mary was going to run so I cleverly picked a spot directly across from the priest. I wasn't going to be the last one called on... but more importantly, I was not going to be first.
     I had to get the lay of the land.   
     As I suspected, the priest was the lead-off hitter. He started off with the Apostle's Creed. I kind of knew this one. At least there was something familiar about it. Then he led us all in the Lord's Prayer (er uh...The Our Father). I was good with this... in fact, I was great with this. As it turned out, I was the only one in the room that knew the whole thing.
     These so called "good Catholics" couldn't remember the ending. They all just stared at me... in awe, I am guessing as I finished the prayer. It appeared that the priest knew the ending, but I was not so sure because he also kind of stared at me and my awesomeness.
     Then the Hail Mary's started rolling. Three at first... something about Faith, Hope, and Charity. Just three... this should not take too long, I thought. But then it kept going. There was like ten of them at a time... then the Our Father and this Glory Be thingamajig. I was trying to figure it out, but there was a lot going on.
     In all seriousness, I was listening intently and trying to keep up. I thought I had it figured out when, my good Catholic friend jumped in and took over my turn. All that anxiety for nothing... my prayers were answered. The Blessed Mother had come to my rescue.
     I bring this up because the Month of May is dedicated to Mary. Most nights, our family has been praying the Rosary.
     Just so everyone knows, I became a Catholic about twenty-four years ago. Since converting, I have learned all the prayers of the Rosary... and have forgotten the end of the Our Father. I have my very own necklace. In fact, when my father passed away, I was going through one of his drawers and found a rosary that belonged to his father. It was old and it had a musty smell to it. I loved it!
     My father took the opposite approach to religion; he was Catholic and became Lutheran after meeting my mother. But he kept his father's rosary all those years.
     Obviously, it was special to him and it is very special to me. It is the only thing that I have of his... not counting my mother who lives with us. She too is old... but not musty at all!
     So before I say anything stupid... er, uh more stupid about my mother, I offer up this Hail Mary for all of you reading this...
     Hail Mary... Full of Grace
     The Lord is with thee
     Blessed art thou amongst women and 
     Blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus
     Holy Mary, Mother of God
     Pray for us sinners 
     Now and at the hour of our death!  Amen.
     Have a blessed week!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Ahh... Little League...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
    We are smack dab in the middle of the Little League baseball season. Little League baseball... where kids who have been playing for years are teammates with kids that have never played baseball in their lives.
    Coaching kids with that much of a disparity in talent presents unique challenges. But before you can get to the coaching, you have to get through the draft.
    Ah, the draft.
    It starts with seventy five kids catching three pop-ups, swinging three times off of a tee, fielding three ground balls, and throwing three pitches. Each kid is then evaluated on a 1-5 scale before they are assigned a "value number" for the draft.
     You know, Major League Baseball wastes so much money on scouting. Hours and hours of watching prospects play to determine their draft status when all they really have to do is see them do everything three times.
     In order to evaluate the players, each coach is given a sheet with the kids' names listed. I make notes on my sheet... sometimes they are good notes and sometimes they are not so good. Unfortunately, they collected my sheet and I had to do some quick erasing and misdirection. For instance, if a kid misbehaved, he was immediately eliminated from my team. My note might read Probable Pain in A... This quickly got erased to PPIA.
    There were several PPIA's.
    People would be surprised at the lengths coaches will go to get great value draft picks. They will have good kids they know bat left-handed at the evaluations even though they are right-handed. They will have their kids drop balls on purpose or lob every pitch. Winning is important at this level.
    In years' past, the person that presented the biggest problem in the draft for me, was my lovely wife.
    I saw Billy's mom at the pool, and I told her you would draft Billy. Oh, and don't forget to get Chris because I also spoke to his mom... Ooh, and Freddie. His mom said he is very excited about playing for you. 
    Cheryl, I can't draft them all... Billy and Chris stink and Freddie is a PIA! 
    They all need you in order to get better, and you can make them behave. God put them on your team for a reason.
    No... No... God did not do that, you are trying to do that. God wants a winner. God loves winners. God makes winners happy and losers sad. There is a reason for that... He likes winners!
    Just draft them and make it work out! You always do such a great job! 
    Yes, I always do such a great job.  Here is what I do...
    I demand discipline and concentration... like the time this year that I told an 8-year-old that he had to stop crying, or I was going to take him out of the game. I warned that he had to get tougher, or he could not play baseball.
     An inning later he came off the field and back to the dugout in the middle of the inning. I thought that he had to go the bathroom... a pretty common occurrence in Little League. No, he was crying because... and I quote... I am not tough enough to play baseball! 
     I keep a strict player/coach relationship... like the time a couple of years ago when I got down on one knee to explain to a six-year-old that he had to back up first base on throws from the infield. As I was talking, he sat on my other knee and put his arms, with glove and all, around me. I never did get out my instructions as I picked him up and twirled him around. He didn't care about backing up first base at all... why should I?
     By the way, I drafted that kid again this year because, as I explained to his dad, in over thirty years of coaching, I have only had one player sit on my knee and give me a hug. How could I not draft that kid when I get the chance?  My own kids don't do that! 
      I repeat things time after time, so there is no misunderstanding my demands... like the time this year when I reminded a player on second to move up on a passed ball. Passed ball number one came and went, and the kid only moved one or two steps. Passed ball number two and he only moved up three or four steps. Number 3 and we got another step or two further. When he finally made it to third, I asked him why he did not move up on the passed balls.
     I did move up... I moved up on each one. 
     No, you did not! 
     I did... but I was not sure how far you wanted me to move up. I kept getting further and you kept saying the same thing. 
     I want you to move up to the next base... that is how far you move up!
     Oh... then you should have said that! 
     So now you know my secrets to success.
     We win more than we lose, but we certainly don't win all of our games... and I am pretty sure that the kids are having fun. Kind of a novel approach... make it fun for now. There will be plenty of time in these kids' baseball careers to worry about winning every game.
     Right now, I think my job as a Little League coach is to make sure that all my players want to play baseball again next year. Next year will provide different opportunities as a coach.
     For instance, we can worry about backing up first base... next year!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Heartbroken fan... again...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     I am the worst person in the history of sporting events to watch a game with. I always expect the worst and have no trouble verbalizing my opinions. My poor boys get confused because, generally, I think I am a pretty positive person,
     They don't get it. They are young and have not witnessed the playoff futility of the Caps or the long term incompetence of the Wizards.
     Unfortunately, my boys were forced to watch the worst ten minutes in the history of area sporting events on Wednesday when the Wizards took on the Hawks in Game 6 and the Capitals squared off with the Rangers in game 7 of their series.
     Both teams lost in brutal fashion in the last moments of their respective games... within ten minutes of each other.
     Let me start with the Caps.
     I advised the entire family that I would not be watching this game because I could not bare to watch another Game 7 loss by the home team. I tried to explain their history of losing their series after jumping out to insurmountable, er uh, huge leads. But then I got sucked in when the gas station attendant advised me that the Caps were up 1-0.
    When I got home, I just had to watch. Have you ever had a sore in your mouth and you have to keep touching it to make sure that it is still sore?
     This was my dilemma.
     To be honest, I am not a huge hockey fan.
     I never watch an entire regular season game and steadfastly refuse to get sucked into a playoff run. But then the Cappies dragged me in by winning a game or two in their first playoff series. The perfect analogy for the Caps is the prettiest girl in the school who bats her eyes and flirts with you... and leads you along a hopeful trail... right up to the point when she unceremoniously dumps you and breaks your heart.
     On a side note... I recall back in high school when this pretty girl stopped me in the hallway and asked if my mom participated with Meals on Wheels. Of course, it was clear to me that she did not really care about my mother or about Meals on Wheels... she was digging me.
     At least that is what I think was going on. Okay, maybe not. It turns out that her mom also did Meals on Wheels and had asked her to ask me if my mom, was in fact, my mom!
      I just assumed that she wanted me... to do Meals on Wheels with her... if you know what I am saying.
     Yeah, I don't know what I'm saying either.
     Maybe she was just being nice and I somehow misinterpreted her actions. You know, it must be hard being the prettiest girl in the school. Every time you say hello, some idiot boy, like myself, thinks you dig him and can't live without him.
     It made sense at the time and in this case... was the only logical explanation!
     Back to the Caps. They are like that pretty girl in your homeroom that mentions to you that she went to a fun party and asks if you ever go to parties.
     Hey, Mark... you won't believe what I did this weekend. I went to a party on Long Island and had a great time. I even won a game or two... what did you do?
     Nervously... I stayed home. I love to watch baseball. 
     Well, you should come check out the next party at the Verizon Center.
     Recalling previous years' broken hearts, I resist...
     Maybe, but the Nats are in town and Harper is on fire and I'm kinda seeing them now.
     Suit yourself. 
     A few days later, she is back... But this time in a very low cut, seductive hockey sweater.
     Hey, do you like my playoff outfit? Things are getting hot, and there is still time to join the fun. She says with a wink.
      Er, uh, I'll be honest, the last few years, you kinda broke my heart. 
      I'm sorry baby, but things are different this year. I have changed. C'mon, you can trust me. I got a lead early and stayed on top the entire first series. I was hot on the ice, she added as she mischievously bit her bottom lip.  C'mon, you will not regret it. Join me as I start the Ranger series. 
     Well, maybe I'll watch you. But...
     Yes, yes, watch me, you will love it! I mean, we will have some fun... If you watch.
     Wait a second. Slow down, I insist. Maybe I'll watch... but if you mess with me in Game 1... I am out. 
     Just give me a chance... I will do something special in Game 1, just for you. Baby! 
     Sure enough, she did. Game 1... a last second goal to win the game.
     Now, I was clearly intrigued... but still cautious.
     Did you see that, baby! I did that for you, she blurts as she playfully twirls the chin strap of her hockey helmet.
      That was impressive. But the Nationals are getting hot so I really cannot commit. I say, knowing full well, she had me hook, line, and sinker.
       She knew too...
       Yeah, the Nationals... You think you can go all the way to a championship with her? Go ahead, last time I saw the Nats in the playoffs, they blew a huge lead to the Cardinals. Just sayin'. You know you belong with me. Forget about the Nats!
        As most of you know, the Caps and I went on a torrent five game love affair and were 90 seconds from closing it out... When the inevitable happened in game 5. Late Ranger goal, Caps lose in overtime.
       Hey, what happened to you last night? You were doing great, I was having a great time then you all of the sudden went cold as ice! Pardon the pun.
      Back off, clingy boyfriend! Give me some space to figure this out, she says.
      Clingy is a bit harsh, I was just saying that...
      I know what you are saying! You know, I'm sorry, baby, I am just stressed a bit. Hang in there with me... You'll see. We will be okay! 
      We were not okay.  We lost game 5 and game 6. Then came another heartbreaker in Game 7.
      What happened? I plead. You broke my heart again. You promised this year would be different! You guaranteed it would be different!
      What do you mean? So we lost. Get over it. Nothing is guaranteed! 
      But you promised... you won the first series and went up 3-1 and you lost. You promised changes!
      We need to talk! She insists.
      What? About what?
      Look, it's not you, it's me. I am moving on... who knows... maybe next year we can get together. The seductive hockey sweater was now replaced by a golf outfit.
      But I cared so much for you. How can you do this to me... again? 
      This is for the best... you will be better without me... you were too good for me. 
      Okay, I guess. Maybe next year? I suggest pathetically.
      Yeah, sure. She had moved on... much to my chagrin!

     Now, as for the Wizards.
     If the Caps are the beautiful girl that breaks your heart, the Wizards are the ugly duckling that blossomed into a beautiful swan. Still the nice girl that you will give every chance... and she deserves it.
     I am still in on the Wiz!
     However, I would be remiss to let the end of game 5 go without commenting on their center, NeNe.
In the last twenty seconds, he missed a five-foot shot... by six feet and he got punked on a last second rebound.
     You are a huge human being among huge human beings... go and grab that ball to secure the victory!    
     John Wall is my hero. They got this. Never give up. They will win the series... I guarantee it!
     And if not... The Nats are on fire and if she will take me back, I am all hers.  

Friday, May 8, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Two big events this week...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     Two big events in our home this week.
     First, our daughter Gracie just completed her freshman year of college. Can you believe that Cheryl is old enough to have a daughter in college?
     Unfortunately, because I had to work, I was unable to make the trip up to her school to pack her up and bring her home. On a side note, you would think that after twenty-three years of being married to a lawyer, my wife would know that court dates get set months in advance. She cannot ask me three days before the big pick-up day if I can take off work.
     Grace's freshman year was tough.
     There were countless nights of tears... of consoling... and of reassuring that it would all work out. Of course I was the one doing the crying... with Cheryl doing the consoling and the reassuring.
     I missed Grace a bunch, but that was not the problem. She had been away many times before without me. The problem wasn't that I missed her, the problem was that I could not control her. Mapping out somebody's every move is much easier when she is nestled under your wing. Things tend to get dicier when she's hours away.
     When Grace was home, I could ask her every day if she had completed whatever task I asked that she complete. When she is at college, all I can muster are threats via text message. I am not a good texter, so it was impossible for me to express my displeasure in a tone that she had come to recognize. I tried to throw up one of those angry faced emoji thingamajigs, but that just increased my frustration.
     To make matters worse, she met a boy.
     I am guessing that she met lots of boys, but one in particular tends to stand out. The scouting report is that he is Catholic, attends Mass regularly... if not daily... is one of eight kids, and was homeschooled. Smart kid. Freshman in the ROTC program.
     Seems pretty nice... Cheryl loves him! I hate him!
     Cheryl insists that I can't say that I hate him, so I will say that the jury is still out. I mean on the surface, he seems topnotch, but I take great displeasure in his seeing my daughter every day when I cannot. This was driven home when Gracie, after suffering a blow to the head during her lacrosse practice, called me to see what she should do:
     Go see the nurse at the school! I advised.
     But Brian says that that will be a waste of time and that I should just go over to the hospital.
     Grace, the nurse can make the decision to send you to the hospital if she thinks it is necessary. 
     But Brian is an EMT and he knows about this stuff.
     Honey, I have had about seven concussions, I know what I am talking about. By the way... who am I talking to?
     Dad, that's not funny! Brian thinks I should go to the hospital.
     Do what you think is best.
     I'm going to the hospital... is that okay? 
     Of course... I mean who am I to question an EMT!

     Now you understand why the jury is still out on this kid. It turns out that Brian was right, but that's not the point! She listened to him and not me.
     I guess Grace and Cheryl like him, so who am I to judge?  
     Oh well, I have all summer to de-program her!

     The other big event of the week is that Matthew turned fifteen today.
     Makes me think back to the days when I was fifteen. Let's see... I was the point guard on the championship Junior High School basketball team... and the shortstop on the baseball team. I was voted Most Likely to Succeed and was the Superintendent's Award winner. Not even sure what that award was, but I think it meant that I was the greatest kid in the history of the school!
     Matthew has great hair.   
     Okay, there is more to him than great hair.
     He's a great kid who does well in school, played ultimate frisbee, basketball, and baseball this year, and is well-liked by his teachers and friends. He is no Superintendent's Award winner (whatever that is), but he is doing okay.   
     I have often thought about my winning Most Likely to Succeed, and I wonder if I were worthy.
     I know that there are other people that I went to school with that have done better with their jobs and have made more money. But every day, I try to be an example for my kids. Nothing special, just an honest guy who treats people with respect and tries to live a holy life. I'm doing okay, so when I think about my life with Cheryl the kids... I'd like to think that I rank near the top of the success ladder.
     So, I guess when all is said and done, whether or not I am worthy of the superlative comes down to how you measure success.
     I will take my family... even with my daughter's silly ol' boyfriend... and stack that up against anyone.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Happy Anniversary...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     I had forgotten all about it, but Cheryl reminded me.
     It's easy to forget about anniversaries when you get bogged down with day-to-day events. You start running kids to games, doing household chores, going to meetings, and attending school functions and the days slip by.
     But you would think that something that I love... and frankly work hard at every week.... would never be forgotten.
     There were no gifts exchanged, no special dinners. In fact, Cheryl and I barely saw each other on this special occasion.
     I am about to share something that I have never told anyone before...
     When this whole thing started, neither Cheryl nor I could have ever dreamed it would last this long. Like many relationships, it started out with a blaze. It was easy. It was fun. It was exciting. Both of us would agree that I did most of the work, but we loved working together, side by side, building something that would last.
     For a while, we did grow closer and closer with each and every collaboration.
     But like most things, the newness wore off.
     There were weeks when it seemed to be more of a burden than it was worth. This may come as a shock but this is cathartic for me to finally write this and put it out in the open... there were some days that we even discussed calling it quits.
     As God is my witness, this is true!
     I would get frustrated and Cheryl seemed more than willing to give it all up.
     The thing that always kept us going was the kids.
     We both agreed that we had to set an example of perseverance. So we continued to work together, and we are hopeful that everyone appreciates the work that we do.
     Of course, I am talking about May marking the fifth anniversary of Funny Guy Friday. Technically, Cheryl started her blog near the end of April and introduced me, but my first actual post was in May.
     That is right boys and girls, this is the fifth year of my writing... and Cheryl editing... FGF.  Have not missed one week in five years. Two-hundred and fifty or so weeks of writing this stupid blog post! That is Ripken-like!
     Let that marinate for a second...
     For 250 straight weeks I have had to take some mundane event that happened and make it funny. You try making a trip to Toys R Us to buy batteries funny. You try to find humor in having the talk with your 12-year-old son. You try to make merry with your baby boy getting smacked in the face with a watermelon rind. Or your daughter stealing your hairbrush.
     It ain't easy!
     Please do not send me any gifts to mark this great milestone. Your laughter is all the reward I will ever need... although a gift certificate to Ruth Chris Steakhouse would be sweet!
     Oh, and before I forget, Happy Anniversary to my lovely wife.
     It was April 25, 1992, when we tied the knot. Engaged after six weeks of dating, and not once in twenty three years have I ever doubted my decision to spend my life with Cheryl!
     Hey, wait a second. You know if you read the beginning of this, you might have thought that I was talking about our marriage and not my FGF milestone.
     Puhhh-leeeeze... if you think that Cheryl and I ever sat and discussed ending our marriage, you have never met my wife.
     One day, Noah and I were watching a Japanese advertisement promoting marriage. At the beginning of the ad, a gentleman is sitting with his wife at a restaurant and slides divorce papers over to her, as if he were giving her a business proposal. She looked at the papers and her eyes teared up.
     I turned to Noah and asked, What do you think Mom would do if I ever took her out to dinner and slid divorce papers over to her?
     She would slide them back and say..."No. Just No! Put those papers away and order some food... we aren't getting divorced! One of us has to pick up Matthew in twenty minutes so hurry up!"
     Noah knows his mother well!     
     So two big milestones this week. Five years of Funny Guy Friday and twenty-three years of wedded bliss... well, mostly bliss!
     I must admit that one is much easier than the other!
     You know, the more I think about it, five years of FGF may not warrant a great steak dinner, but twenty-three year of marriage may!
     Forget what I said about your laughter being the only reward that I need... I need a good steak dinner.
     Just for fun, I may draw up some divorce papers and in the middle of our meal, slide them on over to my bride. It could make for a funny story!!!
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