Friday, June 29, 2007

The Whirlwind Has Begun

The whirlwind that is our summer is officially underway. The teens got out of school on June 15th and that night we drove to Baltimore to fly to San Antonio for our annual high school Mexico mission trip. We spent a week in Saltillo building the second floor walls and piers for a church there. One day we got to venture out to a remote village of about 600 people. It was by far the highlight of the week. The most interesting comment made was:

"We (Americans) think we have it all. But those people (the Mexicans in the village) have the one thing none of our possesions can give us - contentment."

It's strange to feel trapped by one's possesions. The irony is that the only way to feel content is to have less rather than get more. I love the Mexico trip because of insights like this one.

Our VBS wrapped up last night. Next week is our "squeeze-it-all-in-in-a-week" week with various events like baseball games, Dude's Night Out, and Kings Fest.

Then Sunday, July 8th, myself and three of our teens fly out for Malawi in Southeast Africa. We'll be there for 10 days with World Vision, observing the ways they work to end hunger and poverty around the world.

Three days after we return we have Richmond Work Camp. The first full week of August is our middle school mission trip to New Jersey, then a weekend retreat with our incoming seniors caps off the summer.

Then we can breathe.

Anyone else have big summer plans?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Imaginary Team

Some children have imaginary friends or even pets. Levi has an imaginary baseball team that lives here in our house. "The Players," as they're known, frequently need rides to games, water after practice, or a place to sleep. The other night after Levi got out of the bathtub I asked him to put on his "big boy undies." I walked into his room and he was tugging on the end of his shirt until it was almost at his knees. I asked him what he was doing and he said, "I don't want the players to see my privates."

Today we were going to Titus' doctor appointment and on the way Levi was in the middle of telling me a story. In the middle of a sentence he stopped, reached in his pocket, pulled out an imaginary cell phone and said, "Oh, just a second Daddy, it's one of the players." The rest of the way to the doctors office he had a conversation" about why it's important to hit the ball as hard as you can and run as fast as you can after you hit it. We're talking a good 5 minute imaginary conversation. I was pretty impressed.

Kids are fun.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Yankees

Well there's been plenty recently about God and Family; now it's time for a post about the New York Yankees.

Many are saying the Yankees are out of the race for the playoffs. "Boston's too good," they say. "The Yankees typical slow start was just too slow this year." Well, I disagree. Here's four reasons why:

1. BOSTON'S PITCHING WILL COLLAPSE: Josh Beckett will inevitably end up on the DL for a long stretch with a blister on his finger, Schilling will have back trouble, Wakefield will throw over 75 mph one too many times and have health issues, and no one knows if Dice-K can go a full season or not. He's already showing signs of breaking down. Boston's pen is better than ever, but we're not even to the All-Star break yet, anything can happen. The only certain thing is they will NOT finish the season the way they've started.

2. THE YANKEES PITCHING IS COMING TOGETHER: Wang, last year's runner-up in the Cy Young voting, is finding his groove again. He pitched a complete game last night in Chicago. Clippard is a young, strong arm who is going deep into games and keeping scores close. When Philip Hughes returns that will be yet another young, strong arm. He had a no-hitter in the 7th against Texas before leaving with a hammy injury. Proctor, Bruney, and Rivera are proving to be a pretty solid bullpen. If the Yanks starters can go deep into games, the bullpen will be a non-factor. Add that to Pettite being surprisingly good, and Moose being better than anyone expected, and you've got yourself a pretty good staff. Oh, and Roger Clemens will be starting in two days.

3. THE YANKEES BATS WILL HEAT UP, BUT BOSTON'S CAN ONLY COOL OFF: With Giambi out of the lineup - probably for the season - the Yanks can get into a better rhythm at the plate. Having Johnny Damon as their primary DH gives them a young, feisty outfielder in Melky Cabrera. He gives the Yanks a spark that they really lack when he's out of the lineup. Posada will cool off, but he's still much more reliable than in years past. Add to the mix A-Rod, Jeter, Abreu, Matsui, and Cano, and you've got a solid batting order that will outscore their opponents.


I predict that shortly after the All-Star break the Yanks will make their traditional run and be in first place by mid-September. World Series? Maybe not this year. But with their young pitching, it's looking probable in years to come.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A Two-fer

We had an AWESOME family day today. We were lazy for a few hours this morning, then I took the boys to Target to buy a bike rack for the car. We loaded our bikes up and drove downtown to Belle Isle. We put the boys in their stroller that hooks onto my bike, then road over the foot bridge and made our way out to the rocks. We hadn't come prepared to splash around in the water, but Levi and I stripped down to our cargo shorts and jumped in. The water level was low enough not to require a life vest, but high enough to have a fun current and deep enough water to swim in. We found a little eddy surrounded by rocks to play in. Levi stood on the rocks and jumped to me in the water. It was a lot of fun. Titus and Christina put their feet in, but they mostly enjoyed eating the snacks.

We were there with the tattooed, drinking, college-aged crowd and, I'll be perfectly honest, it was a lot of fun. Yes, there was some unfortunate language, but everyone there shared the space on the rocks, met and mingled with other tattooed dog owners, etc. It was just a really fun atmosphere.

After Belle Isle the boys slept for a while, then we went to Matt Stinnett's graduation party. I'll miss Matt a lot. He's the last of the original youth groupers when Christina and I arrived in Richmond. He's a great, talented, and really funny guy.

After the party we went to Glory Day's Grill to watch the Yankees/Red Sox game on the big screen. The Yanks are up 9-3. Now we're home. Titus is in bed, Christina and Levi are preparing for a slumber party in our bed, and I'm listening to the end of the game.

What a day.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Tonight we were at a party and talked with a guy about his 10-year old son who is playing baseball in a 12-year old league. He talked about all the driving they have to do taking him to his baseball lessons. He pays $1 per minute for his son to get special coaching from a guy who used to play for the Cubs. A woman who was in on the conversation said she'd get him the number of a guy who will come to your house and work with your child in your own backyard.

I looked over at Levi, our 3-year old, and Titus, our 1-year old, and thought, 'I'm never selling someone the right to teach my sons how to play the game of baseball. If ever there was a job for a father, that's it!'

Tuckahoe Little League sits directly behind our house. In fact the lights are on and fans are cheering even as I write. Soon they're building an indoor training facility there that you can start taking your child to as early as 5 years old. NO THANKS! There's something about a 5-year old taking the game that seriously that makes me cringe.

My stance, as I explained to Christina over dinner, is this: if in high school it appears that Levi or Titus have a real shot at moving to the next level in the game of baseball but they just need that extra work to help them get there, I'll consider outside training. Otherwise, we're hanging a tire in the backyard, taking a bucket of balls to an open field, and learning the game the way it's supposed to be learned.

I'm sticking to my guns for as long as I can. I know the pressure is there to make your sons play a little better than the rest, but baseball is too pure a game to spoil by making 10-year olds treat it like a career. Maybe that's what it takes to make it "big" these days, but I'm not ready to sacrifice that time with my boys.