Sunday, August 30, 2009

Just don't call me Costanza

This? This is what I'm reduced to. :)

After two days sitting on my couch I needed to get out of the &$#@ house. So, we packed up the kids and hit the Bagel Place this morning for breakfast, then took a trip up to CostCo to load up for the week. There weren't any way I was walking all over creation inside that megastore so I asked to borrow a scooter. Yes, I felt like a goof. And yes, everyone looked at me funny. But it saved us from making a 30 minute trip into a 90 minute trip so it was worth it. The kids were fantastic both during breakfast and while we shopped so that was a blessing and a half.

Got to watch some of my Yankees beating the White Sox during nap and now we're discussing a sojourn to the pool while we still have the opportunity - it closes after next weekend. Here's to the Yanks winning and me not killing myself at the pool. :)

And for your viewing enjoyment...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Sap needs someone to hug!

Ever since the kids came along I've turned into such a sap. Not for kittens and babies in cute outfits or anything like that, but when a story turns to a father and a child the water works turn on as sure as the sun comes up. I've been a mess in movies, while reading books (ever read The Road? If you have, you'll remember the moment that the main characters came upon that fire cooking on the side of the road. Or, how about the moment in The Pillars of the Earth where the main character has to decide what to do with his newborn son?) and sometimes even watching TV.

It happened again just now. I'm sitting here, adhered to the couch due to my bum knee, watching the memorial service for Sen. Ted Kennedy. I tuned in just in time to hear his eldest son, also Ted Kennedy, speak about his father through a choked up voice and a sea of tears in the audience. I just about lost it.

What was worse was that Pudge was sitting on the couch next to me playing with some toys, totally oblivious to what was on the screen. I just grabbed him and hugged him tight - which he is NOT a fan of. Both Red and even JAM are far more snuggly, both at least put up with my hugs on a regular basis but Pudge just isn't interested in snuggling of any kind really. He even refuses to come into bed with the rest of us in the morning! Goofy kid. :)

So, I'm a sap who needs to give hugs and I've got a kid who could just care less. Good thing I'm still like 4x his size. Before my knee gave out I could even chase him down when I wanted to.

I'm going to need to get a net or something.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I should just learn to be quiet

I've said it before, and I'll likely say it again. I should just learn to be quiet. I'm not typically a believer in jinxes but this one should take the cake. If you don't know, I'm a huge basketball player. No, not at all skilled enough to call myself anything other than a (to use golfer terminology) duffer. Basketball players might call me a hacker or a chucker. No, I'm not really that bad, but I ain't in any danger of being offered a shoe contract. :)

So where does this jinx thing come into play? I was having a conversation with one of my basketball buddies the other day about injuries, commiserating about all the ankle sprains we've had in the past (I've sprained each ankle about 6-8 times each) and for some ridiculous reason I marveled OUT LOUD (!!!) that I've never had a real knee injury. WTF was I thinking?

Do you see where this is going yet?

Yup, it happened yesterday morning. I was minding my own business, guarding my guy underneath the basket when someone on my team stepped on the foot of someone on the other team which caused him to fall. Where did he fall you ask? Right onto my foot. That's not too bad you say. I'd agree with you if it had stopped there. But, said falling fat guy didn't just stop after falling on my foot but he continued to roll up my leg which was pinned to the floor under his fat a$$. Not sure if you're a fan of the NFL but stuff like this happens all the time to the linemen but those guys all wear huge knee braces now. Me? Nope, no knee brace. I saw it coming, felt it right away, and immediately screamed like a little girl and fell down. I'm so happy that I didn't hear a pop which is the tell-tale sign of a ligament tear. It hurt like a somnabitch but after a few minutes the endorphins kicked in and I thought I was just being a wuss at first. I was even able to hobble off the floor, down to the elevator and took a shower in the locker room.

What the hell was I thinking? I knew I was in bad shape in the shower when my knee tried to fold sideways on itself. I got really lucky after I got dressed when a gym employee came in to collect towels and asked me if I was okay. I had to admit that I wasn't, and he asked if he could help me get to the car. Yup, I got wheeled out of there in one of those PVC pool wheelchairs. I had every intention of finding a doctor to go to but only after I made an appearance at a meeting I had at work. That plan was blown out of the water when I tried to climb in the front seat to drive and my knee tried to buckle sideways again like it's just not supposed to. So, my new BFF Trevor from the Columbia Gym was nice enough to drive me and my van to the hospital in Columbia so I could get myself checked out. I just can't help but think that things like that just wouldn't happen in PG County.

After spending waaayyyy too long in the ER of this lovely hospital I learned that there was no bone damage but they refused to do an MRI to check the ligaments. What is all this crap about doctors prescribing needless tests???? Not for me they didn't. So now I've got to wait until next week to even begin to find out what is wrong in there. I just know that it feels like crap, it wants to constantly bend sideways like the inside ligament is totally gone, and my whole body hurts after spending most of two days sitting in the same position. This sucks. I have no idea how long I'll be laid up adding yet another burden onto my already overworked and under rested beautiful Wifey. I feel like crap that I'm adding more work to her plate. She's amazing, not showing any ill feelings toward me because of my predicament. I don't deserve her. She's amazing and I love her.

We'll see how she feels about me by the end of next week.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another round of thanks

Having "enjoyed" a weekend of playtime with my Dad and JAM, I need to share my thanks. And I'll explain the quotes in a moment. This past weekend was the second annual (here for the first) boy's trip up to Williamsport, PA for the opening weekend of the Little League World Series. I feel like I said it all last year, except for another huge round of thank-you's to my Dad for joining us and especially for picking up the hotel tab. Wouldn't have been able to do the trip without that help so aside from being able to spend real quality time with him and JAM, he was really responsible for the whole thing and it was much appreciated.

But, I need to explain the quotes from above. "Enjoy" is about how I'm feeling about the whole trip and it is almost exclusively my fault. Much like every parent I'm sure, I have certain mental images running around in my noggin about how things are going to play out in all sorts of situations. I have visions for high school graduations, first weddings, second weddings (joking!), grandkids, very lucrative employment so these dang kids can take care of us when we're old and poor, etc., etc. This weekend was on a slightly smaller scale but not really any different. I had a vision, especially after last year and all of our (JAM and me) talks about what to expect this year, of being able to sit and actually watch some baseball with my Dad and my son. You know, we'd talk about what was going on down on the field, I'd explain some of the finer points of the game to my baseball-playing/loving son. We talked before hand about our (read - "MY") plan. Hill sliding would be fine, yes we'd get some treats along the way, yes we'd visit the fun-zone and throw balls and act silly at the games, but we-were-going-for-the-purpose-of-watching-baseball. (!!!)

Yeah, didn't so much work out that way. We brought our lawn chairs (which was a good idea because those hard metal bleachers are not so kind on the 'ol posterior) but that also meant we had to set up on the upper flat area in the outfield. And that meant sitting behind other people (locals) who know more about this setup than we do and they get there early and take up huge portions of the flat space so no matter what you have to sit behind someone. Wow, that was a long sentence and I'm sure not at all grammatically correct. So here we were, sitting behind mostly empty folding chairs but that meant JAM couldn't really see. And when you can't see something all that well you tend to get kinda bored with it. Can't blame him one bit. But, once you get bored you quickly find other things to do, including sliding and wanting treats and all the other crap we'd talked about.

To make an already long story shorter - JAM did very little baseball watching. Which meant that we got to do not as much baseball watching as we would have liked. For my Dad and I, we could sit in the outfield all dang day and watch wild pitch after passed ball (seriously, someone teach these kids how to catch already!!!) nice and serenely. JAM's got to move - no surprise there. And, for the most part, I let him go off on his own. For long periods of time too. We brought his (my old) pay-per-use phone so he had a way to get in touch with me if he had to but for the most part he just went off and played the games and went sliding and whatever the heck else he did. He showed up when some kid laughed at him on the hill (seriously, he needs to learn to laugh at himself a little bit so not everything is quite the end of the world drama he thinks it is), or when he was hungry (again) for some Italian Ice or another hot dog but mostly he was on his own. We had been letting him go on his own more and more this summer - here - so with the security being tighter there than at the airport I felt absolutely safe in letting him spread his wings a bit.

The end result? I was sad that my vision didn't play out. I wanted to have a bunch of time sitting there talking baseball with my kid, but it didn't work like that. I knew in my brain that it wasn't going to, but I set myself up for it anyway. We did get some time but between the poor views and the ridiculously long delays in the game so ESPN could get in their commercials it was hard for JAM to live up to my unrealistic expectations. My fault entirely, but it still doesn't take away from that little bit of the parent that mourns when the vision doesn't take shape quite like it was imagined.

Here's to good times, and realizing that I need to take what I get and be thankful for it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year....

Back to school time that is! As JAM goes back to school today we're reminded of that most excellent Staples commercial.

But, I can't help but post this totally inappropriate picture from the FAIL blog too-

Happy fall everyone!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Online Learning Gets a Boost

Interesting article today on the New York Times' BITS Blog. According to a recent study done for the US Department of Education, learning done at least partially online results in a significant improvement in learning based on quantitative comparisons. (here -

This is extremely interesting to me because I've been trying to make inroads along these lines at work. Having research to fall back on will help to bolster my argument that we've become stagnant in our approach and especially as our workforce becomes increasingly infiltrated by the Millennials we'll have to keep up with their expectations for learning.

As a student of both traditional (of course) and online instruction, then as an instructor in both arenas, I recognize the challenges faces by new online learners. There is definitely a learning curve involved, and all new online learners should be prepared for a new way of doing things. But, it is my stance that the "I just learn better in a classroom" excuse is not valid. It is definitely different, and it will take some work and time to get used to, but the evidence suggesting increased value in online learning gets stronger every day. As in everything else we do as professionals, if your (learning) skillset does not evolve then you run the risk of becoming extinct.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sometimes you've just got to ignore yourself

I've got an inherent distrust of events and people when they don't fit my expectations. I used to be very trusting - to a fault. But, I've mentioned that previously. But now? I guess it's just a part of growing older. You learn that not everyone should be trusted, that some people might try to take advantage or misrepresent themselves to your detriment. Now, if someone tries to tell me something that seems just a little too good to be true, I take it as being too good to be true.

Tonight, I told myself to shut up.

As I mentioned in my last post, JAM's 9th b-day was last week. Wifey's (and mine) good friend L gave JAM two tickets to two different Orioles games as a present. I know - how cool was that? Tonight was the first game, and JAM and I took off for the game this evening to a very harangued looking Wifey and two screaming young ones standing in the doorway with their faces pressed up against the glass. I felt like a tool for leaving - but JAM deserved to go and use his tickets so off we went. Our seats? I'll let the pics speak for themselves....

Yup, that's us up in the last row of the upper deck. Our seats weren't really all the way up there but almost. When we took a walk all the way up, and noticed how much nicer it was up there in the breeze so we decided to stay. It was a good thing we did.

In the 5th inning or so, as we were sitting up there minding our own business, this kids comes all the way up the stairs, walks over to us and says - "How'd you like to upgrade your seats? For free!"

My B.S. meter went through the roof - kind of like when another 21-year-old-looking guy came up to us a little while earlier and asked for a dollar saying he just realized he didn't have enough cash to pay for the parking garage. I'm glad I just laughed at him because a little while later I saw him and his friends with a newly purchased bottle of Sprite taking swigs alternatively between the Sprite and another bottle of suspiciously clear looking liquid and mixing them in their mouths. hmmmm.... Disgusting for sure, and sure as hell glad I didn't waste any money on them.

But I digress. So when this second kid (16 or so by the looks of him) comes up with this too-good-to-be-true offer I asked him what was the catch. I thought he was going to try to sell me magazine subscriptions or something because in his other hand he had two or three manila folders. But, he told me there wasn't any catch, he was just leaving and had really good seats and wanted to bring them up top and give them to someone who could use them. I'm not a total ass, so I said sure, and thanked him, then looked at the tickets. JACKPOT!!!! Let's just let the pic speak for itself once again...

Yessir, there we are about 15 rows behind home plate. Even more funny?

That's the pic looking up to where we were from where we ended up. I learned an important lesson tonight that I'm sure Wifey could have told you many years ago...

Sometimes you've just got to ignore me. :)

I'm glad I did.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I know I won't be able to do it justice

I'm so thankful that I can't put it into words so I've been putting it off. Imagine that, me putting off something that I'm not sure how best to tackle. But this shouldn't be daunting as it is something wonderful and all I want to do is say that I'm grateful for some fantastic people that have made our last few weeks more fun and enjoyable than we ever could have hoped for.

Also, I think my not having all the pics ready to post has caused some delay. I love documenting our good times with my pictures so not having those at hand for this post has contributed a lot more than I thought, now that I stop to think about it.

But, the whole purpose of my little space here is to allay my fears that what doesn't get written about gets forgotten too soon. So, on with the thanking...

First, my Dad and his amazing wife Ava. A few weeks back we enjoyed a longish weekend down at their place in Williamsburg where we didn't do a whole heck of a lot but we weren't stuck in our own house and we got to enjoy their company. Going back to the VA Living Museum was a highlight, with the visit to their planetarium and the 360 degree movie about life in a reef. We had the place all to ourselves and after some getting used to it by the littlest among us the show was enjoyed by all. We strolled through their outdoor animal areas (full of rescued animals - wolves, fox, deer, bald eagle, other assorted birds that I didn't know existed, etc.), had a lunch of bad for you goodness, a great time all around. Add in some bike riding, baseball and kickball playing, a trip or two to the park and it was just a nice weekend to be away from home.

Fast forward a few more days and we're back to thanking D&A again for their interest in inviting JAM for a solo visit to their house for a few days. It's wonderful to have grandparents interested in opening their home for our energetic and anxiety-ridden eldest. Nighttime is never easy for him when Mom and Dad aren't around, and D&A aren't exactly used to having to play the part of cruise director, but once everyone settled in I know they all had a great time.

Dad brought JAM back up to MD last Wednesday and by Friday we were on the road again for a long overdue trip up to CT to see Wifey's family. Officially we were headed north to attend the wedding of some old friends and former students at UMD that worked for Wifey in her classroom (they actually used to babysit for littler JAM wayyy back when), but Wifey's wonderful parents, and then some extended family in the form of an uncle and his girlfriend(?), were fantastic in taking charge of the kids so we could go to the wedding unencumbered. We even got to sleep off a HARD night of drinking and partying in a hotel room all to ourselves!!!

Oh, as an aside - if anyone ever hears me say "Hey! We should do some Tequila shots!" - please hit me in the knee with a stout metal pipe. Thanks.

The long weekend up in CT was also a nice rest and recharge-y time (well, maybe not totally for Wifey who always takes way too much onto her shoulders during visits to their house). JAM has an emerging friend in a young boy who lives across the street - or "Meatloaf" as he affectionately came to be called by Wifey's uncle. The two little ones enjoyed playing in a real life yard where we didn't have to worry about strangers cutting through, car crashes 20 yards away, or any of the other urban issues we've come to know and love in our little home in MD. Then, we even worked in a 9th b-day party for our growing-ever-bigger-JAM. It was a Brio and Lego extravaganza, to be followed up this weekend by a real-life pool party with some friends from school. It will be fun, no doubt.

So there you have it. I'm so thankful for some wonderful parental units who love us and are interested and willing to take on our little crazies from time to time so Wifey and I can pretend to be real adults. Reality always comes smacking us in the face all too soon afterwards but we sure do enjoy it while it lasts.

I'll get those pics uploaded soon though - you know me. :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I knew it was going to happen...

I warned everyone - all three of you! But, they did it anyway.

It's a sad day and most of you don't even know it.

They killed it.

This sucks.