Sunday, June 29, 2008

"It's JUST t-ball!"

That's what the rather large, lazy umpire yelled at me after I couldn't let the 5th crappy call go by unnoticed. No offense to the overweight. There are plenty of you out there, and you don't move as slow as this kid behind the plate. I've seen overweight people run around a soccer field, referreeing games. But this guy was just not in the game. At all.
The game was close, and I'm not sure how, as call after call made against us put us seemingly further behind. But it was now the last inning and we could win! The ball was hit, and barely rolled over the "foul" line, which is the line you must hit the ball past in order for it to be "fair." The ball rolled fair, the pitcher picked it up, and the ignorant ump called it foul. I really didn't mean for him to hear me, but I had had enough and could not sit quiet any longer. Three bad calls at first base: two where we were safe, and one where we had gotten their runner out, were all called against us. He also allowed runs to come in after the ball was thrown to the pitcher. I probably wouldn't have noticed these things if it wasn't 100 degrees outside (I exaggerate) with absolutely no breeze. The girls had another game after this and we all wanted out of the heat. The worse he called, the slower he moved, the longer the game.
But when he retorted that, "It's ONLY t-ball!" I was surprised to see no parents bum rush the field. After all, WE were the ones bringing our children to practice twice a week and sitting in the heat. THEY were the ones trying to learn this stupid game. HE just showed up (halfway) and all he had to contribute was, "this game doesn't matter, why do I care?" That is, after all, what he meant.
The girls ended up winning both games. Thankfully, the second game had a different umpire. The girls were SO excited and we celebrated the end of the season with a pool party.
Later that night, we had two more games for my son's team. After the first game (which ended a bit prematurely because the other team was exhausted and wanted to go home) I asked the wife of one of the coaches who won the game. "Well...technically we don't keep score in t-ball...but we won..." To which I wondered why we had kept score all season, and now all of a sudden for the tournament we weren't keeping score? She then went on, "the kids don't care."
I explained to her that the kids DO care, and that she should have seen the girls after winning both of their games earlier that day. "Well, it's not good when the winning team says, 'ha-ha, we won...blah, blah, blah.'" This really perplexed me, and I asked, "if we don't let them win, how will we teach them the right way to win?" I got no answer.
The boys won both of their games as well. And I ended the day more stumped than ever.
If we don't care who wins, why are we playing the game? Why are we driving 30 minutes away at $4 per gallon to play another town just for the fun of it? Why bother buying uniforms if it's "JUST t-ball" and if the umpires are going to crawl out of bed and barely show up to make calls? None of this made sense to me! What are we teaching our kids?
I personally feel like kids are ready for competition if they are playing another team. Why pretend like it's not happening, when everyone knows that it is? Are we afraid of getting better, or realizing that we're getting better, or are we more concerned with the other team feeling like they're not?
Ironically, we aren't supposed to keep score, but the benchmark for coming in to bat is when we get three outs or the other team scores 8 runs. If we aren't keeping score, how do we know when they have scored 8 runs? And if we aren't keeping score, why does each team have a parent keeping books every game?
Does this make sense to anyone out there?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Clothes Pins: Not JUST for Art Projects!

In May we downsized to a duplex, as I've mentioned in another post. In the backyard is something I've ALWAYS wanted: a clothes line! I know that sounds crazy, but maybe you've never searched for a place to hang 5 wet towels and bathing suits to dry! At our last house, I'd hang them on the fence, but the kids would try to pull them down and snag them, or the wind would take off with them. Not good!
So the other day, I open up the clothes pins that I had bought for craft projects. And inside the wrapper is a little booklet- for craft projects! Don't people buy these things to hang up clothes anymore? Then I started thinking. I wondered if clotheslines were becoming more popular these days with people wanting to save energy. I know "green" people have always utilized the clothesline, but what about "regular" people?
I now take my clothes to a laundromat, as I'd prefer to use the space for storage than a washer and dryer. I spend $20 (or $18 if I can dry the last load at the end of every dryer cycle) every two weeks to wash and dry our clothes. I know it will be more expensive in fall/winter, but by then, my kids will be neater (please, God?) and not require much laundering. I figure I'm not paying for the water, and the dryer isn't heating up the house, so it saves me money there. If the laundromat wasn't 10 miles away, I could hang every load to dry. Well, almost. The other day, I had a couple of hours before the sun went down. I put out some "not quite dry" clothes and checked their progress about an hour later. Almost dry! An hour later, I checked again. The humidity had rolled in and the clothes were as wet as when I first put them out! Defeat! The thing about Kansas is that it can take an hour to line dry just about anything when the wind is blowing, or it can take forever when it's humid. Now I see why clothes dryers are popular...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

T-ball is SO Much Fun!

And SO nerve-wracking! I've got two in t-ball right now, one playing on the boys' team, and one playing on the girls' team. I probably don't need to say what a huge difference the two teams are. But I will. I'll start with the boys. The age range for the boys is barely 5 to almost 7. So you have boys that have been playing for a couple of years who are probably about ready to strangle the first timers who act like- you guessed it- four year-olds! We are about halfway through the season, and I can't tell you how many games we've won- we just don't keep up. But at the start of the season, I was a bit concerned because the coach seemed a little unorganized. But boys being boys, they have (mostly) improved dramatically. Being one of those parents who plays ball with her children almost daily, it's my suspicion that the boys who are improving are getting help and practice at home. At our last game, my son made a great play at 2nd base. He stopped the ground ball, then ran to second base and got the runner out. Sounds simple. But at the beginning of the season, none of the boys could make plays because they fumbled the ball if it came to them. It's hard to make a play when you can't get control of it! At this point, they are actually throwing to their target- and they're CATCHING it! As I cheered for my son after his play, and noticed EVERYONE on our side cheering, I almost cried as he radiated joy on the field. All that practice paid off! I remembered all the great plays I had made as a softball player and how good it felt. I am so glad that he gets to experience it, too! Here he is at a recent game:

The girls' team is a bit of a different story. They have great coaches- a TEAM of coaches, actually- and their practices are very organized. While they are the same ages as the boys, I suspect they are more interested in wearing the uniform than learning the game. It seems that by now there are certain things they should have learned. And they just haven't. I'm not sure what the problem is. My daughter was playing 3rd base, and I could tell that the next batter was going to hit in her direction. There were runners on 1st and 2nd, and I hollered, "Anna, if the ball comes to you, run to 3rd with it!" It took a while for the batter to hit the ball, but when she did, it went right towards Anna. She stopped it beautifully, but then stood up like, "what do I do with the ball?" LOL This would not be so bad if the pitcher, who gets nearly every ball hit to her, also didn't know what to do with the ball almost every single play. And by the end of the game, STILL hadn't figured it out!
Since this is Anna's first year, I was just happy that she stopped the ball! It is hard to teach kids the game at home without having runners and other players. So that will come with time. But I can tell that hardly any (if any at all) of the girls' parents are playing with them at home. I wish they would. It is so rewarding for both parent and child. Getting to see the hard work pay off is something many kids don't appreciate these days because they don't put the work into it! Coincidentally, we are learning this with piano and swimming as well. Practicing a little every day makes a huge difference, and makes a child confident that he or she is able to do well. Anyway, here is Anna in her first game:

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Stack and Stick Building Toys

I've mentioned Stack and Stick Wooden Building Toys (shameless plug) here before, but this is something new. My sister was visiting us in April, and had some fun with the kids. She took a couple of sets (and some extra bases) and built a dollhouse with them. Of course they had to fill it up with furniture! This is a great option for families who don't have a lot of room for various building toys AND a dollhouse. Your daughter can build her own! And your son can build all kinds of forts and places to hide for whatever action figure he's into. Here is a picture of the dollhouse:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Purging and Downsizing

One of the reasons I've been "too busy to blog" is that we moved. After my divorce earlier this year, my kids and I were still in the five bedroom, 2.5 bath home that was just sucking the life out of me! It was too big, too much money, and SUPER inefficient. We were literally using only a few rooms of the whole house, but paying to heat the whole thing! After our $458 gas bill, I quickly turned down the thermostat and we froze the rest of the winter. We used portable electric heaters to warm up the room we were in, but as soon as you walked out it was cold!
I knew I needed a smaller place, and the stress of the money, the wasted resources, and just the STUFF everywhere drove me crazy. We were able to move into a two bedroom- yes a TWO bedroom- duplex at the beginning of May, and we have slowly moved necessities over. Anything that we haven't needed will GO. We've already donated a lot, and sold some at a children's consignment sale. But there is LOTS left. It is so true that no matter the size of your house, if you have room for it, you will buy it and fill up the house.
We are not living a traditional life, but it is working. My kids and I all share a bedroom. The bedroom is also our living room. It houses the one TV we have. The living room is the play/activity room where the kids' toys, books, and tumbling area are. The second bedroom is our computer room which houses my office and a desk which holds their computers. This will also be my daughter's art space once we get the shelves up and her art stuff over here. The kids have really pared down their toys and it's not been difficult deciding which are important and which they can do without. Since their dad is moving back into the house, they still have access to them, but I'm guessing a lot of them will go. As long as I don't have to look at them all over the place, I don't care! :o)
Moving and purging has been very liberating. I am so much more relaxed. When I cooked my first meal, it was so nice that everything was right there; I didn't have to walk across the room twenty times for this or for that. Since rent is MUCH lower, I'm not worried about money. I am able to plan for our future and put money away for my kids' college educations. I am also a better parent. When you are less stressed, you are naturally going to parent in a calmer manner and not "lose it" so much. I think the kids are less stressed, too.
It is sad that we as Americans feel the need for bigger, better, and more. It is sucking the life right out of each and every one of us. I was not actually this way, but was married to someone who was. And I went along for the ride. Truth be told, what we are doing now is preparing us, hopefully, for living on the road. Our goal is to get an RV and travel for part of the year. We are excited about that! And I'm glad we made this move because it has shown us that we CAN do without things and we MUCH prefer fun experiences to "things". Try it yourself, and find a better life for you and your family!

I'm a Sblogger!

I created a title for myself. It's "Sblogger," short for "Sporadic Blogger!" I find that I get busy and don't have time to blog. I have lots to say, but no time to say it. Then when I have the time, I blog a bunch at one time. I wish I could change this, but being a single mom does not afford the luxury of down time very often. Even better, being busy usually means lots of good stuff going on, whether business is booming, the kids have activities, or our town has something special happening. So I guess I should just deal with being a Sblogger and get used to it. Having kids gives me stuff to write about, but no time to write it. And I'm okay with that!
Look for a ton of posts in the next couple of days as I catch up!