List Mania

It’s a challenge to get away from college football today … and for the rest of the weekend. Plenty of people are reluctant to leave the couch while games run non-stop until late tonight. (I’m not one of those, but I’ve come to accept my Beloved and our grandson are going to stay glued to their seats, smack-dab in front of the television.)

AlaOhioTurning away from college football mania, I’ve been scanning the vast resources of the worldwide web. I had already noticed in my email the number of lists that abound in 2015. There are lists of (1) things to do, (2) things not to do, (3) places to go (4) places not to go … and there are multiple other lists focused on retrospection (1) what we got right in 2014, (2) what we got wrong in 2014, (3) what we need to do to get it right in 2015, etc. Continue reading “List Mania”

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Saturday Diversions

Call me old fashioned, but I don’t mind. I enjoyed those long-ago times when our family spent Saturday nights over a family dinner and then gathered around the television for a movie. In those days, it was often a Disney made-for-television movie with wholesome stories and fun the children were certain to enjoy. To this day, Double Switch and Not Quite Human are movies my grown children delightfully recall.DisneyMovies

Nowadays, unless we go out for a movie (rare because we have Netflix, Hulu and multiple other options), Saturday nights are no longer movie nights. The children (for all practical purposes, anyway) are mostly gone and movies have lost a good bit of their luster (at least for me).

But Saturdays, when I am mentally ready to sit back, relax and enjoy a fun flick (whether drama or comedy), I’m the only one in the household with this mindset.

Not that the others don’t have their noses glued to a screen. Saturdays do mean something to them … but the day doesn’t translate to anything close to movie-time. Thanks to the wonders of ESPN and College Football Saturday, there’s no doubt sports will be airing on screens (televisions, computers, smartphones, iPads, etc.) throughout the house! In fact, with the addition of Thursday night and Friday night, Saturday – all day, in fact – we’ve transitioned into a weekly college football triple play! Continue reading “Saturday Diversions”

Off The Links

During the four weekends when there are major golf tournaments (Masters, US Open, The Open and PGA Championships), my Beloved keeps our family room television tuned into the events. Since we also have a DVR, he’s usually recording the entire coverage … in the event he misses something or notices a swing he’d like to study a bit closer. This is what it’s like to live with a man who’s carried a lifelong love of the Game.the-open-championship-e1342569020137

Before we were married, I’d never even played a round of golf. (My sports were softball and baseball.) In the early days of our marriage, we were too poor to golf regularly, but Sunday afternoons, we’d both be at home relaxing. Sooner or later, we’d gravitate to the cheap entertainment provided by our television where a broadcast of one golf tournament or another was playing. Even though I knew little about the game, I’d sit down to watch it with my Beloved. That’s how I came to understand golf, long before I’d ever played a round. Continue reading “Off The Links”

Baseball, Mom & Apple Pie

It’s in my nature to be competitive, but this month-long FIFA World Cup Soccer extravaganza is stretching me way beyond my normal capacity! Honestly, is there anyone else who is as maxed out as I am? (Come on now … don’t be afraid to raise your hand.)brazil-2014-world-cup-bannerSoccer was never a sport I played. Living in St. Louis where I grew up, our sport was baseball and the Cardinals were always our team. My brothers and I spent our summers out on a vacant field behind our house, and since this spot was an excellent gathering place for other kids in the neighborhood, we usually had a game of baseball going.

But soccer? There might have been a time in junior high school when the PE teacher mentioned soccer but little more, certainly not enough information for any of us to understand and enjoy the game. Whatever the teacher taught was obviously forgettable.

During my children’s early sports years, I think each of them played fall soccer at least one year. As a parent, I knew they needed to wear shin guards, the object was getting the ball in the net, and the children did a huge amount of running every game. (I think perhaps the running itself was enough to discourage them from future participation!)

I know there have been other World Cup Soccer tournaments over my lifetime, and I suppose I must have been living in a bubble not to have noticed them until now. Nevertheless, now that I’m aware of this quadrennial ritual, I’m amazed how many people are caught up in the events — and the number of others who feel like me (totally bored).

When my grandson and his best friend recently started talking soccer, they might as well have been conversing in a foreign language. (Grandson’s friend grew up in Indonesia where soccer obviously generates more interest and enthusiasm. At one time in his youth, Grandson played LaCrosse and has now learned more about soccer from his friend.)world-cup-usa

As the cartoon above relates, I’m absolutely befuddled by the entire event. Here’s what I’ve learned so far. Instead of counting down, the time clock goes up! Sometimes, the end of the game is extended; I haven’t yet figured out why. Teams that lose don’t necessarily face elimination. The penalties, the yellow cards, the rules that govern … I’m not even close to grasping these finer points!

Like the cartoon dad above, I’m convinced baseball definitely makes more sense to me. And American football? Before I married my Beloved, I knew I’d be a football fan because he was; it was the best way to spend time with him, so I learned the game.

Perhaps if my Beloved had loved soccer, I’d know more about it today. I blame my ignorance entirely on him!

Bowlish Musings

super-bowl-2014-XLVIIIIt’s Super Bowl Sunday! For some years now, I have to admit I’ve been less than an enthusiastic fan. I think my excitement ebbs and flows based on whether my husband has shown interest or not.

There was a time many years ago when we lived in Dallas (and for some years even after we’d moved away) that we were Cowboys fans. (That was the Tom Landry era and we had high respect for him.) In the years after Landry retired, we gradually lost our enthusiasm for the team (though we still like to see them win and will watch games occasionally).

Picking an NFL team to cheer for is no longer easy, so we tend to reserve our enthusiasm for the Arkansas Razorbacks now. Woo pig sooie!

The Super Bowl is an event of course, whether you’re rooting for one team or another … or just enjoying the commercials (that’s me). But I was amused today by this Twitter post (and answer) below.

shatner

ASIDE:  Though I was never much of a Star Trek fan, I enjoyed William Shatner in Boston Legal. The clever repartée between Shatner’s character (Denny Crane) and James Spader‘s character (Alan Shore) was usually worth the price of admission. As the show progressed, however, I got terribly bored by intrusive political references and wasn’t terribly disappointed when the show went away.

The above Twitter exchange reminded me of a poem, written many years ago. Here in the South, it’s not uncommon to be driving down the highway and see a toilet bowl as the centerpiece for someone’s garden. (This has always seemed a bit incongruous to me!)

When I wrote this poem, it was simply an expression of the odd way in which my brain catalogs and processes information (both sense and nonsense). I remember thinking at the time I wrote it that it would be little more than a poetic exercise because the poem was unlikely to be appropriate for any occasion, certainly not a poem to sell.

(Please note, it’s not a sonnet! My appreciation for the sonnet form would not allow profaning this high-minded form with such low-brow drivel!)

But given the above Tweets and today’s Big Game, I share it with you here as a token of pre-game frivolity.

Bowl-Role, front yard toilet, potted plant, poetry, light verse, poem
Poem: Bowl Role

 

Sons And Daughters

More sports today … and after yesterday’s fumble (mine, not the one OSU‘s Clint Chelf endured in the final minute of the Cotton Bowl), I decided I’d take another run at football!Chelf

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, College Football is taking its final hits of the season. After yesterday’s Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl, there’s today’s Compass Bowl and tomorrow’s GoDaddy Bowl leading up to the grand finalé, Monday night’s BCS Championship Game.

I think it’s fun to watch these games and engage in a friendly competition with friends whose team loyalties may differ from ours.

In our part of the country, we’re sorry the Arkansas Razorbacks had a disappointing season. Of course, we’re also excited for Arkansas State‘s prospects in tomorrow’s game against Ball State … even though Ball State (with the better overall record) is favored.

With his previous ties to northwest Arkansas, Gus Malzahn is also a sentimental favorite for us, and we’re excited about him succeeding with the Auburn Tigers!

In the first year of my marriage, I learned the importance of sharing sports with my sports-loving husband. (Fortunately, this wasn’t totally anathema to me because I already enjoyed sports in general.)

The sonnet below is one I wrote when my children were young. Before we had sons in the house, we had daughters. Since my Beloved comes from a family of boys, he knew lots about boys and the male perspective, but not much about girls … at least he didn’t until our daughters came along. But as they got older, there were occasions when their feminine perspective was incomprehensible to him.

With this poem, I explore what I observed as he learned to balance being the father of both sons and daughters, and I celebrate the unique affect a daughter has on her daddy.

Mixed-Loyalties, fathers, daughters, sons, sports, football, sonnet, poetry, poem
Sonnet: Mixed Loyalties

The Writing Field

Update:  When I posted this earlier today, I did so with the sonnet using an unacceptable mixed metaphor that a fellow-blogger kindly brought to my attention. The editor side of my brain knew using fumble in a poem about baseball was incorrect (error being the proper term), but my creative side ignored the critique! Feeling the uncomfortable residue of egg on my face, I’ve made the necessary change! (The words work hard, but sometimes the boss is stubbornly wrong!) My thanks to doobster418 at mindfuldigressions.com for his generous input!

With College Football in its final wind-down and a Super Bowl countdown bringing us less than 30 days till game day, some sports fans are already anxious for the start of spring training. Growing up in a baseball town (St. Louis), I enjoyed knowing something in my younger years about the Cardinals … much less as I got older and then left home. (That probably moves me into the not-really-a-fan category, doesn’t it?)batter

As a youngster, though, I played baseball almost everyday with my brothers … all summer long. My older brother is two years older, my younger brother eighteen months younger, and we spent lots of time together in those days. Yes, I was definitely a tomboy.

Because we played baseball together, I learned how to throw properly, I became a decent batter and an excellent fielder. I practiced frequently so as to avoid any legitimate criticisms that I “played like a girl.” Other boys in the neighborhood joined us on the back lot for games, but I don’t remember any other girl being in the company.

Unlike my brothers, my interest in baseball cards was nil. But I managed to absorb some of their talk about players on the Cardinals team, so I knew who the players were and what positions they played. The concept of batting averages and other intricacies were lost on me, but I knew enough about the best players to use their names in our back-lot games and sound reasonably well-informed … for a girl!

Occasionally, I’m a bit wistful for bygone days when it was the children who organized enough players to field opposing teams, arranged a place to play and proceeded with their games − completely apart from adult supervision. Films about sandlot baseball evoke my memories of pleasant days at play.

Today, thinking about the conclusion of another football season, I thought this sonnet would be an appropriate poem to share. I still enjoy “playing catch” but I do it differently than when I was a child.

Playing-Catch, baseball, writing, playing catch, sonnet, poetry, poem
Sonnet: Playing Catch

 

Failure No Longer An Option

It’s been a long time since I sat in the bleachers watching one or another of my children playing sports. At various times, we were spectators for t-ball, soccer, softball, little league baseball, Kiwanis Kids Day football, junior high basketball and football, and senior high basketball and football.

I feel like I’ve probably left something out but you get the idea. With four children in athletics, there were times we (two parents) needed to be in three different places to attend concurrent events! It was a challenge.

However, only this week did I realize how radically different children’s sports has changed … I knew just how different when I saw this video relating the details of “Silent Saturday.” (I’ll let you make up your own mind about whether you think this is a positive transformation or not.)

Do a Google search and you’ll get results of numerous soccer associations experimenting with this notion of “Silent Saturday.” Their claims are noble − purporting to champion the needs of vulnerable children and prevent [screaming] adults from “invading the children’s playtime.”

For me, “Silent Saturday” is simply one more indication some children are introduced to sports far too early. One of the measures, it seems to me, for gauging a child’s readiness for sports is his/her ability to hone better listening skills (i.e. pay attention to coach, filter out other distracting voices).

As a parent on the sidelines, I observed that most grade-school children who participate in sports just want to have fun! To that extent, it is indeed the “children’s playtime.” Children definitely love to run, to chase a ball, to do the running and chasing in the company of other kids their age. But by the time they enter sports, they’ve already begun to understand the significance of cheers (and boos), of wins and losses, of excellence in performance and the mediocrity of lax performance. They may be playing, but they’re playing for keeps on some level.

Still, as long as parents encourage and permit their kids to enjoy the fun, undue pressure to perform at a high level can be minimized (except perhaps for the few who seem to feed on sports because of their intense competitive drive).

The sports skills children learn (at this young age anyway) are often incidental to the camaraderie and teamwork that takes place on the field/court/diamond, etc. In fact, I’ve known some children who learned the camaraderie and teamwork well without ever actually mastering the sports skills.

Why? May I suggest it was due to their personalities. For some, the sports were only an avenue for social interaction (and possibly because mom or dad wanted the kid to participate).

But even the children who don’t really care about the sport and aren’t naturally gifted athletes do have their ears tuned to their parents’ voices. Why shut down that parent-child communication? Children thrive on the feedback and they long to hear their parents praise them! I shudder to imagine the child who believes he/she has performed a “great” move but mom/dad can’t offer the immediate affirmation and praise they hope to receive! What’s next? A star on the pillow from the tooth fairy? A non-committal thumbs-up for A’s on the report card?

How does a child’s maturity most likely flourish? From the artificial imposition of “Silent Saturday” or from experience (whether win or lose) where the child internalizes natural feedback that can help him/her become a better player and/or a more understanding (wiser) human being?

Children who engage in sports require maturity, but their engagement also encourages added maturity. They learn to deal positively with affliction (sustaining losses, being a benchwarmer instead of top-dog, accepting legitimate criticism sans tears, etc.)

Sanitizing sports events by inflicting children (and parents, onlookers) with “Silent Saturday” is a sure way to squash any interest in competitive activities that move these kids away from the inactivity of computers and video games. The social engineers try to encourage children in physical activity (to prevent obesity) but then spoil the sports activities by pressing a competition-is-bad mumbo jumbo agenda!

I’m betting the kids would prefer less interference, more working-it-out amongst themselves, and a generous portion of normal free play.