Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring planting, Take I

It's not even Mother's Day and I've already started the spring planting. I know, I'm shocked too. Year's past have seen me buy my plants nice and early only to have them sit around and wait until June to get in the ground. Not this year buddy! No way.

Okay, so I've only gotten the three new planters done so far. But, in my defense, I did a really good job on them if I do say so myself. We've always had a set of mismatched planters on our front walk, and Wifey's always hated having them take up a big chunk of the sidewalk. So this year I got a set of three nice new round planters from Costco and I put some concrete blocks into the grass to set them on. And, to really top it all off, I did some research on how to design a really good planter. This is what I found:

Although these articles did a good job giving some advice, and even pointed out a few good plants in each of the thriller, filler and spiller categories, I found that the number of plants they pointed out was fairly limited and most were way too exotic for my local Home Depot. I was getting kind of discouraged until I found this awesome PDF - Container Gardening Plants: Thrillers, Fillers And Spillers

With all this research in my pocket, and the PDF printed out, I went to both HD and Lowes and compared prices. I found that my HD was about 20-25% cheaper than Lowes which surprised me for some reason. During nap time yesterday, with my Dad along for moral support, I took a trip to HD and loaded up on all the supplies I'd need for my planters and planting beds this year. I took a while to lay out a number of different options for my planters and this is what I came up with:

looks like -

looks like -

looks like -

Altogether they look like this -

And of course the little ones had to get into the action. It was nice having them outside, showing an interest in what I was doing. I found a few nice sized worms while I was digging up the grass to place the blocks and I threw them into the new planters. With Wifey's latest foray into project work with the kids, their study of worms, Red was absolutely amazing when Wifey picked up a nice juicy one and placed it in Red's palm. I don't even like to hold worms very much (too much like snakes I guess) but Red was just fine, looking intently at it as it wiggled around in her hand. Both she and Pudge were fascinated when I moved a bag of peat moss in the woods and we found 13 worms underneath. These kids are a lot of fun, and summer is going to be a blast around here with their inquisitiveness running rampant.

Here they are, hamming it up...


I'm planning on getting the planting beds done next weekend. We'll see how that plan works out but I'm optimistic!!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'm sorry - wha?

Found this today while doing some research online.

I'm sorry - what? Oh, wait! It was published in 2008 - you know, right before it was found out that Toyota was lying to federal investigators and its customers about potentially fatal flaws in the design of it's most popular vehicles. Well... that's alright then.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A tale of two Reds

Soccer practice for Red. So much anticipation, so much opportunity for fun, excitement, breakdowns... oh yes, you get the idea. Last week was Week 1, and we started out with high hopes:


Wifey was awesome. She ran, cheerleaded, cajoled, encouraged... all was great.

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Yes, all was great, for about 10 minutes. Then, Wifey had the sheer audacity to suggest to Red that she shouldn't use her hands to pick up the ball. Oh... my... God... the break down was instantaneous and absolute.


Suffice it to say that practice ended early for our dear Red. We spent about 15 minutes sitting on the bleachers trying to get her to calm down - to no avail. We finally gave it up and moved up around the side of the Youth Center to where the little basketball court is and the kids were able to run around and play without the "pressure" of an organized practice.


Week 2 was yesterday and it was so much different - thanks to Wifey's week-long campaign of preparation for Red. They talked about the rules, what to expect, how fun it would be, etc. And Red rocked the house. Until another breakdown threatened to bring the storm clouds once again...

But again, Wifey to the rescue. Apparently Red was confused and upset because the group and coaches were playing a game that she didn't know the rules to. All week long Wifey had been prepping her for playing Red light-green light and Simon Says - two games they played the week before that confused her - causing the breakdown. But she was ready this week:

So while Red was ready for those a new game caused her to be unsure about what was going on. It seems that my little girl and her older brother both share that anxiety gene - they both need to know what's going on, what's going to happen, in order to be comfortable. But like I said, Wifey got her quickly calmed down and back into the action and all went really well. YEAH!!!!!

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- Jazz-Hands Mommy?

It seems that Red might actually get to have some fun with this whole thing which is awesome because she loves to be moving, running, kicking... a little sporty lady to be sure... and soccer just seems like a natural outlet.

Here's hoping.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Community Priorities

Got an email tonight through our community's listserv that I thought was a bit misguided, through no fault of the sender. Seems this person is a member of a tennis player's club or some such and they've been working for a while to get the tennis courts in my community resurfaced and lights put in. In and of itself - a very valiant effort and a true benefit to our community. Now it looks like the City Council will be discussing the funding for the project and she's trying to get folks to speak out, for or against the plan.

Here's part of her message:

It has taken several years to get to this point - where the Council might actually be considering making repairs. We have a very real concern that the city council will not approve the entire budget needed to resurface the courts (#1 - #4) and install the needed lights on all 8 courts. Please come and be part of the audience so the city council is reminded of the number of active tennis players in our community. Or come to give your opinion pro or con.

I used the word misguided in the beginning of this, and even with the general usefulness of her cause I still feel that way. Why? Because of the overall lack of _any_ suitable basketball court anywhere in the city. These folks are trying to get pretty usable (if I remember correctly) tennis courts resurfaced while there are absolutely zero usable basketball courts anywhere in town. Here was my response to her message:

This is in response to _____'s message about possible resurfacing of the Braden tennis courts. While I agree that it is important to repair the much used tennis courts I need to put something else out there for public consumption - the almost absolute lack of quality outdoor (or indoor for that matter) basketball courts in our community. I'm not sure what argument I could make to gain the attention of the city council, especially if a seemingly well organized group like Ellen's has been working for years to get repairs done on the tennis courts, but the current situation is absolutely laughable. This is even more true with our being a community where so many of our youth are eager for spaces to gather and play.

I started to compile a list of "courts" spaced around Greenbelt and on paper it seems quite impressive. I use quotes because none are close to full size, none have lights, most are downright dangerous. I know I don't have an absolutely accurate count but there are at least a dozen in various states of repair, and none are in any condition to play a safe game. I'd like the tennis players to try playing one game on the basketball court at Greenbelt Lake then you'd understand what's going on here.

Again, not taking anything away from the tennis players of our community, but if we had to make a decision according to the pure numbers of potential players I think building at least one decent basketball court would win. Or, maybe it's because most of those potential basketball players are young, non-voting, and (am I allowed to point out without starting a brouhaha?) *whispering* minority, that revitalizing our city's basketball courts hasn't happened?

I'm wondering if there's any hope of going to the meeting Monday night when they discuss this issue. Pretty sure JAM has a baseball game so it unlikely but at least, through this message, I've put my opinion out there.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Don't let the door hit you in the...

I got the strangest and most amazing phone call Saturday afternoon. When we started baseball practice this spring JAM and I were so excited. New coach, yours truly helping out again, JAM didn't lose much over the winter, just good times ahead. Then, he showed up. Again. Remember the coach from hell? Yup, back with his poor kid who obviously doesn't want to be anywhere near a baseball field. His "hot Latino blood" - direct quote from his wife as she apologized for him last year - overflowing at his kid and others. I feel so sorry for that poor boy. He either has no aptitude for the game or he just doesn't want to play with his father around so he does absolutely nothing on the field. Just a bad situation.

Until blissful Saturday afternoon. A little while after JAM and I got back from practice (from which Idiot Coach and his boy were absent) Good Coach calls me up and asks if "anything happened" between Idiot Coach and myself. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't inviting Idiot Coach over for tea and crumpets but I made a concerted effort to be as polite and accepting of him as possible this year. I've said hello while he's ignored me (we didn't leave last year on the best of terms after I had to tell him to stop yelling at kids all the time and to do something to help the kids other than stand there with the score book in his hands during games). I've made pains to help his kid try to get better without screaming at him. I just tried to act like he was any other person, not someone with whom I haven't had the best relationship with. Clean slates you know? Even if it is obvious you are trying to project your unfulfilled baseball dreams onto a kid who doesn't care a lick about it.

So back to the phone call. After Good Coach asks me if anything happened I'm wracking my brain. Did something happen and I not notice? Did I say anything that I shouldn't have? Did my general lack of understanding social norms come into play here? Nope, I couldn't come up with anything. Then, I remembered something - something so insignificant that I forgot about it immediately after it happened. IC (Idiot Coach - my fingers are getting tired) butted in while I was attempting to help out a kid totally new to baseball try to become a pitcher.

Side note - yes, we have a team made up of 15 kids either totally new to this level of baseball or totally new to baseball in general. JAM is going to be a 9 y.o shortstop and GC's kid will be an 8 y.o. third baseman. Yup, it's going to be a banner year.
So IC butts in while I'm trying to help this kid and he starts explaining how the kid needs to stay balanced while he pitches "otherwise you're going to fall on your ass." I'm sorry, WHAT? You say this to a 9 y.o. shrinking violet of a kid? I interrupted and told him to watch the language, and I thought we moved on from there because he immediately corrected himself and we went on with helping the kid.

That's it. That's the only thing I can think of. Honest. So imagine my surprise when GC tells me that IC's wife called the commissioner and asked that her son be traded to another team because IC and I can't get along. At first I laughed because dude, you've got to make your wife make the call? Then, I was mad because I've really made an effort here. Then, it dawned on me. It must be my birthday! We're going to lose both IC and his kid (who can't throw or catch) who we were going to have to play somewhere in the field. It was impossible to keep the smile off my face. It grew even bigger when GC confided that he wasn't the least bit upset at the development.

Goodbye IC, I hope all the best for you and your poor little boy. I just look forward to seeing you on the other sideline this year.

Monday, April 5, 2010

What a beautiful day for a walk

It would be just my luck to plan for a day off and have it end up being 50 degrees and rainy. Imagine my shock that today turned out to be about as beautiful as it could possibly be. Wifey asked me to take the day off as it was the last day of JAM's spring break and she had planned a doctor's appt for him. When a follow-up for Pudge was planned at the last minute (and she had to admit that she's been unable to find a way to successfully clone herself to be at both appointments at the same time) I was called in for backup. SOOOO happy I was. As soon as the appointments were over, and we shoveled some lunch down the kid's gullets, we set out for the Metro to catch what I thought was the cherry trees in full bloom.


We ended up being about two days too late.

No matter though. We had a great walk around the Tidal Basin with D, C and J, took a TON of pictures, and then had a picnic on the lawn outside of the National Archives before heading home. Yes, a thoroughly enjoyable - and very bloggable- day.

Let's start with one of those "Owners end up looking like their pets" pictures. Both of these guys were pretty funny but the guy on the right took the cake. I think his bulldog ate his neck.

- Us, Cherry Blossom Style

Pics from the walk around the Basin.
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- Me and my boys

Ever seen the Photobomb blog? Hysterical stuff man. We had our own little bomber hanging out with us today.

- We'll call this one "The Lurker"

- And this one "The Lurker Strikes Back"

- Goofballs

- There are no words. I'm printing this one poster-sized for her wedding.

You need to take the obligatory monument pictures right?

With the day so warm we stopped by the WWII Memorial and dipped our toes in. It was cold, but perfect.
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- Of course Red decided to be anti-picture at just the right moment

Picnic and run around time before heading back to the Metro for the ride home.
- mmmmm. Pudge LIKE Nutella!
- Red's a fan too. Wonder where they get that from?
- ???? Sometimes I wonder what is really rattling around in that noggin of his.
- Man, who's that handsome devil?

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- Extreme CLOSE-UP!!!!

- Pudge running after some poor birds. The birds were far smarter than Pudge though and took off as soon as he got anywhere close.
- We'll call this - "Here Birdie, Birdie!"