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Category Archives: sports

A running party for the new 6-year-old

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Pia turned 6 forever ago. Well, really only 3 weeks ago but I feel like several decades have passed since then. Alas, I figured I should write about her 6th birthday before she turns 7. All the photos here were taken by the lovely Robin. She kindly agreed to take pictures for me on the day of the party so I could focus on more mundane things like not losing other people’s children. Also, I may have broken Jim’s camera so I am afraid to ever take pictures again. (To clarify, the camera was broken, I’m not sure who is to blame but it is most likely me. Now that it has a new lens and works again I am afraid to touch it.) Anyway, here it is, a little replay of the day:

1. I made Pia a shirt with a ‘6’ on it to find on the morning of her birthday. This was, of course, made with metallic foil because I adore it. I’m not entirely sure how Pia feels about these homespun clothes. When I went to school to bring in her birthday treat I found her still wearing her coat… despite having been at school for 6 hours. She lets me know her opinion on everything else, would she really not tell me she didn’t like the homemade clothes just to spare my feelings? Hmmm.

2. For some reason I thought tie-dying shoelaces inside with a gaggle of children would be a good idea. My premise was that the dye in question was made with kool-aid, so how bad could it be?

3. When Pia told me she wanted a running party for her birthday I thought easy! until I realized we couldn’t just have the kids run laps for an hour, eat cake, and then send them home. After I realized I had to beef up the itinerary I decided to have them do an obstacle course. I had intended to have the obstacle course outside, but the weather was crazy windy that day so it had to be in our house. As luck would have it, the floor in our kitchen hadn’t been installed yet, so as one of the obstacles I drew letter lily pads on the kitchen floor and had them jump from circle to circle.

4. Jim led the kids in some relay baton exercises, some warm-up stretches and then it was time for the big race, the Pia 6K (really just a big lap around the soccer field at school). Amazingly no one was hurt in the rush to get off the starting line. Jim had leftover race numbers from the school 5K in the spring, so the kids got to wear ‘real’ race numbers.

5. After the race was done I gave each of the kids a medal with m&ms inside, just like these from light blue grey. (If you don’t read her blog, you should, she makes beautiful things.) Since the race took all of 2 minutes we had lots of extra time on our hands so the kids got to play at the playground for a while. Which made me realize that I didn’t need to plan a party at all. Just bring ’em to the playground and they are all smiles. They made up some complicated alien game where people were safe if they were on the blue igloo or something like that. All I know is there was lots of happy squealing and chasing each other about.

6. After a pizza dinner we ended with the traditional birthday cake in our house: Zebra Cake.

How to not watch a baseball game

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The boys were about as unimpressed with baseball as I’d expected, but somehow they lasted the entire game.  While Kyle is eager to introduce the boys to his team (the Brewers, obviously), we watched the Snappers, a Class A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, beat the Timber Rattlers this afternoon.  This closer-to-home minor league team is so affordable we thought it’d be better for their inaugural trip to a ballpark.

Tea’s method of not watching the game involved the eating and doling out  of popcorn to his brother, one kernel at a time.  His view of the game was this:

Pea’s anti-baseball-watching strategy consisted of hiding behind various objects:

Trying to spark his interest, I attempted to explain some of the game to Tea.

“See that guy in the red shirt?  He’s standing on second base.  If he makes it to third base and then home plate, he scores a point for his team.”

“What’s a point?”

“Um, a run.”

“What’s a run?”

“Um, it’s part of the score.”

“Score?”

“Ummmm…this is a game.  The red team is trying to get more points than the white team.  So the score is how we keep track of which team has more points, or which team wins.”

(Blank, uncomprehending  stare – the entire concept of Sport is foreign to this child.)

All was not lost.  For some reason the Baseball Universe kept throwing freebies in our direction all afternoon.  While waiting in line to buy our tickets, a man approached us with an extra ticket their group didn’t need and gave it to us for nothing.  Score!  Not 60 seconds later, a woman offered us a free ticket voucher she wasn’t going to use.  Since kids under 5 are free, entrance for our whole family was totally paid for.  Feeling lucky, we “splurged” on a couple of beers and a popcorn for the boys, but this being the Best Ballpark Ever, it set us back only $5.  Total.

Tea got a water bottle because the boy who caught it didn’t want it, and Pea scored a baseball that one of the players tossed into the crowd (OK, so Kyle caught it for him).  Snappy D. Turtle, the Snappers mascot, signed both items for the boys.

Then during a prize drawing, the number on the back of Tea’s ticket was called and we won dinner at a supper club in town.  Should we feel guilty that it was really Tea’s win but we plan to find a babysitter so we can get a night out by ourselves?  Nah.

Of course, the thing that the boys thought was the most exciting was the bag of chips they were handed as a promotional giveaway on our way back to the car.  They talked about that the entire ride home.  The actual baseball game?  The kids barely noticed it was happening, and Kyle and I were pretty busy enjoying watching the kids.

"Make it quick, Buddy. You're interrupting my popcorn eating."

Paying other people to make up for our shortcomings

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It is entirely our fault as parents that Tea hasn’t a clue what sports are.  With the exception of a few minutes of some high school track meets and football games we’ve walked past in our neighborhood, he’s never seen a sporting event.  Not even on TV, since we don’t turn ours on.  Kyle enjoys a few Brewers games each summer, but otherwise, we’re just not into sports.  Tea has been known to see, say, a tennis ball, and remark, “That’s a basefootball.”  This lack of parental sports guidance is probably criminal in our society.

Enter the 3-4 year old soccer group.  What a deal!  For $30, Tea gets 6 practices and 6 games.  That’s not only 10 hours of adult-led exposure to a sport that seems kinda fun and very energy-consuming.  It’s 10 hours of sports instruction by someone other than me.  I failed tennis in high school.  I literally got an F.  I also got vibrant bruises across my shins from bashing them with every. single. serve.  I couldn’t help hitting myself with my own racquet.  I want absolutely nothing to do with Tea’s sports education.

Warm  up is by far the cutest part of soccer practice.  After that it all sort of goes downhill into an excersize that looks a lot like the coaches trying to herd cats.  But Tea is having fun.

Tea does practice drills well, but at games the poor kid runs back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, never touching the ball in 40 minutes.  While it doesn’t dampen his spirits, he comes off the field saying, “I waited for my turn to kick the ball, but noone gave it to me.”

Try as we might, we can’t get him to understand competition.  Why he is so adept at taking the toys his little brother is playing with but can’t translate the concept the field is beyond me.  It couldn’t have anything to do with our parenting, right?  Our boys are doomed.