Parenting

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Youth SoccerLast weekend my oldest son Duncan’s soccer team suffered yet another defeat losing by a score of 16-2.

While soccer for 5-year olds is supposed to be more about having fun than winning, kids aren’t stupid. They know they’re getting killed out there.

They haven’t won a game yet this season and, not to toot my own horn, but Duncan has scored every single goal his team has gotten credit for this season.

Well, except one where the other team scored on themselves. These are 5-year olds we’re talking about here…

So, down by double digits already before halftime, after a player on the opposing team had just scored yet another goal, there was a little showboating going on.

You know, an in-your-face excessive celebration, the kind that would totally result in a flag being thrown in American football.

So, from the sidelines, I saw my frustrated son say something to the player.

The player responded.

My son responded back.

The kids’ parents joked, “Look at the trash talkin’…”

Then they saw their kid’s red face and the dad proudly proclaimed, “Oh, he’s pissed… Look at ’em!”, you know, excited that his son cared so much.

Not far away, I was trying not to smile, also proud that my son stood up for himself and his team — and thrilled that whatever it was that he’d said had clearly infuriated the opposition.

(For the record, the two were on the same team last season — no “real” strife here. Just a couple of ahead-of-the-curve kindergartners who already have the competitive flame going…)

Now, Duncan can’t hide his emotions very well. He was *very* upset both by the score and the subsequent teasing.

As they lined up to restart the game, I saw his coach lean in and say something, Duncan responded, and then, even from 30 meters away, I could read the coach’s lips as he leaned in even closer to say, confusedly, “What?” before trying to get Duncan’s emotions back in check.

The attentive referee — which witnessed the post-goal celebratory events — then came over to make sure Duncan was good to go for the ensuing kickoff…and then he too leaned in with a “Huh?”

A few moments pass and the halftime whistle blows so I head over to the bench to see what the deal is…

“Hey bud, what’s going on?”

“It’s David. He’s bloviating!” he said, nearly in tears…

Like everyone else, I leaned in with a, “What?”

“David scored again and now he’s bloviating me…”

“Dunc, I’m not sure that’s the right word to use… I’m not even sure it IS a word.”

So he finished the game — scoring the only two goals his team could muster — and we talked about it some more on the bench after the game.

Like, who taught you that word? Where did you hear it? And, though I didn’t actually ask him this, I was thinking, “Why is it in your day-to-day vocabulary?”

Made for a good laugh.

And then I looked it up.

It is a word.

And he used it correctly. In the right context.

blo·vi·ate | verb
talk at length, especially in an inflated or empty way.

David was, in fact, bloviating. Trash talking, being a blowhard, full of hot air, showboating, ummm, all bloviating.

Apologies were in order.

I apologized to Duncan for telling him that I didn’t think it was a word. I also apologized to his coach at the next practice, you know, since my kid was uttering words of the SAT variety during the heat of competition.

PIAC Addendum:
The team’s woes are a shame, really.

For the first time in youth sports that I’ve encountered since becoming a parent, there isn’t a single boy or girl on this team that isn’t trying their best and there’s something to be said for that,

There isn’t that one kid who’s always going the wrong way or the kid that’s more interested in looking at the sky while the game is going on. Or, ugh, the kid that only shows up for games and insists on picking the ball up with their hands…

Really, while some players are certainly better than others — like on ANY team ever — there isn’t a single player on this team that could be considered the weak link. Not one.

For their sake, I hope things start to click for them.

I hope that for the coach’s sake too. On it’s own, it takes a special kind of person to volunteer to attempt to rangle a bunch of 5-year olds.

Now imagine how exponentially more difficult if becomes if none of them are having fun.

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Sky's the Limit Hiking Challenge
I’d originally heard about this “challenge” from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection back when there was still snow on the ground and put the idea on the shelf.

Basically, it’s a challenge to complete 14 hikes in the state during the calendar year — take a picture of yourself at the trailhead and then another at a location/landmark they specify somewhere on the hike.

As a reward, if you complete 10 hikes, you’ll receive a medallion and if you complete all 14, there will be a drawing for a fancy hiking staff.

Ahhh, the things the state government can afford to money on.

For me, it’s not really about the medallion or the walking stick and I’m in no way upset that my tax dollars are going towards silly (likely plastic) medallions or walking sticks.

It’s more about something fun, healthy, and inexpensive to do with my kids.

With our weekends being so busy, we’re a little behind schedule to get them all done but I printed out all of the “adventure maps” for the kids to carry on the hikes and plotted out the order in which we’d do them.

Yesterday, our first hike was to the Heublein Tower in the Talcott Mountain State Park in Simsbury, Connecticut.

We’ve been there before…but this time it felt more like a quest.

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Nissan/Datsun PulsarIn 1983, my family joined the ranks of a the two-car household. I was 7 years old.

Weird, thinking back, as we’d always had a house with a two car garage but never had two cars.

In fact, 90% of our neighbors only had one car. Strange to think houses were “ahead” of the times back then.

Anyway, the “new” car was a Nissan Pulsar hatchback that peculiarly still had Datsun branding here and there.

It was, ahem, brown.

Not the branding…the car was brown. The whole car. Inside and out.

Not tan. Not gold. Not even copper.

Brown.

Now, a brown car may have been a status symbol of sorts in the funky 1970’s but by the 1980’s, well, let’s just say I was never keen on being seen in this car.

Brown?

Really, Dad?

I remember pleading with him to get a blue one instead to no avail.

Hilariously, in 1988, I made all of the same arguments when my dad purchased a Ford Bronco. Also, you guessed it, brown. Ugh…

He even tried to talk the salesman into replacing the Bronco tire covers (which were traditionally black and white) with a brown Eddie Bauer edition one. You know, to complete the brown-ness or something.

Horrifically, the upholstery inside the Bronco which was, obviously, also brown was accented with orange stripes. OMG!

1988 Ford Bronco II

Yeah, just what a 12 year old in the 80’s wants to be seen in… two brown cars.

We’re talking sparkly brown, too. It was traumatic.

So, I was in high school when I first heard the term “POS” and it was used by some of the older kids in reference to my dad’s car coming around the bend to pick me up after track practice.

It took me a bit to figure out was a P.O.S. was. Okay, no it didn’t. Even 20 years before things like BFF, LOL, and WTF became trendy and common, POS set the “lets over abbreviate everything” craze off.

The very not cool Pulsar was on it’s last legs by then but even the day it rolled off the lot, though I hadn’t used the term that far back, it *was* a POS, through-and-through.

The equally uncool Bronco “could” have been cool if it’d been blue or something.

Or white — OJ Simpson was still a pretty cool cat back then!

So from 1983 through 1990, I was shuttled around in brown cars and, clearly, it scarred me for life.

To this day, I have never owned a brown car and can pretty safely say that I will never purchase a brown car. Ever.

Can’t do that to my kids — even if some of those brown Kia’s do look pretty sharp.

And speaking of my kids, perhaps it’s because they’re still a little too young to care (or notice) or maybe it’s just that I’ve always driven AWESOME cars (in my opinion) since they’ve been around but they don’t seem to have any negative feelings towards any of our vehicles.

If only I could have been so lucky.

Thanks, Dad…

RELATED NOTE:

In the past on here, I’ve posted that I like to attend car shows. Since I’m in no way a gear head and muscle cars do nothing for me, it’s mostly because they’re outdoors and have free admission.

Anyway, one of the shows I’ve brought the kids to each year only includes Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bugattis, and Maserattis.

Sorry, Porsche — you’re ghetto and are turned away at the gates.

Scissor Door SkepticismDuncan, my oldest, even had the opportunity to ride in a Countach a couple years back — and though I’m not one to get all excited about riding (or even just sitting) in a fancy car, that was pretty cool.

So, that show only happens once per year since the owners of that type of vehicle aren’t usually the type looking to show off their wheels.

They have the funds, they buy a neat toy, and then drive it every so often and usually for charity events. That’s what this specific show is all about.

The regular car shows (seemingly on weekly basis) that happen around here are pretty much a collection of American muscle cars and wannabe “too fast too furious” Mitsubishi’s with wheels the size of skateboard wheels.

You know, bitchin’ Camaros with racing stripes, Mustangs with the blowers coming through the hood, and t-top Firebirds that even have the bird painted on the hood — mostly driven by short fat guys with hairy backs in Confederate flag tank-tops.

And then on the other side of the street, the primer gray Hondas and Mitsubishi’s mostly made out of bondo crowd — guys and girls, rail thin, vaping, and with an abundance of cheap jewelry on — blaring tunes with so much bass, their license plates rattle as loud as the engine does.

You get the picture.

I enjoy the people watching at these events — what a collection!

Perhaps I’ll start calling them people shows instead of car shows…

Anyway, at one of them late last year, I asked my boys to show me which car they though was “better” than our Z3 because, certainly, even at the primarily domestic muscle car shows, there are some really nice (and unique) vehicles that I’d trade my BMW for in a heartbeat.

To my surprise, they both agreed — it was the Ferrari. I wasn’t surprised they liked the Ferrari, you know, I just patted myself on the back for giving them good taste — I was just surprised they actually agreed.

But a Ferrari? Here? Where?

They walked me over to a maroon 1980’s style Ford Mustang — you know the type that looks just like a Ford Escort of the same era except the Mustang had goofy plastic shutters down the rear window… This, apparently was their favorite car.

Yeah, my kids thought it was Ferrari. So much for good taste…

Horse Logos

And that might seem pretty funny but, honestly, what the hell was Ford thinking in the early 1980’s? The entry level Escort and their flagship muscle car looked nearly identical. Sheesh…

The best part was that the meathead owner of the car seemed a little offended at their mis-identification… I thought it was hilarious!

I give the kids a lot of credit for semi-“recognizing” the logo but quietly explained (our of earshot of the owner, of course) that while the logos are similar but that this car’s logo was more of a pony than a horse.

And Ferrari’s don’t come in a colour as ugly as that.

Ever.

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Michael JacksonI’m not certain how it came up but recently my two older children have become interested in what I thought was “cool” when I was their age.

No, it’s not like they want to use my old Speak-n-Spell… Wait, actually, I should bust that thing out. They’d freakin’ love it…

Okay, a better example is how they’ve have little interest in the crappy Star Wars action figures I had back then or even playing COMBAT on the Atari 2600.

What they’ve been asking, though, are things like “Is this song from when you were a kid?” or “What did McDonald’s have before McNuggets?” and “What number were you when you played soccer?”

Yes, for the record, I’m old enough to remember a time before McNuggets. I’m pretty certain the term “Chicken Finger” had yet to debut.

You wanted chicken? Go to Kentucky Fried Chicken…and order chicken. There was no original recipe then. It was all just… chicken.

Anyway, while driving home one night, we caught the tail end of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean on the radio and I’d mentioned that it was my favorite song when I was their age…

I exaggerated slightly as I was 6 when it came out but…after 3 decades, that’s close enough, right?

They both seemed to show real interest in it, you know, being something that I really liked when I was little.

Truth be told, I can’t IMAGINE my parents as children.

I think part of that is due to the fact that I essentially know nothing about their childhood — as far as I’m concerned, they “started” when I was around four years old and they’ve never really shared any of the details of what occurred before then.

It might also be because the things that interested them never really interested me. I mean, I liked playing soccer in elementary school but I’m pretty sure neither of my parents ever played soccer, like, ever. Very little overlap, I guess.

So, I’m going to try my best to make sure my kids know that I really was a kid too — and share with them as much as they’re interested in.

So far, anyway, outside of SpongeBob, our interests are almost a 100% match.

Not sure if that’s a sign of good parenting or not…

So, listening to MJ in the car that night had me reminiscing of the night I first saw the moonwalk.

The next day, all of us at the bus stop were talking about it. Trying to imitate it. And eagerly awaiting the next time Michael Jackson would be on tv.

Mentioned this all to my kids and they asked…

“What’s a bus stop?” and “Why did you have to wait for it to be on TV?”

Yeah, I hate when we’re listening to the radio and they insist it play a certain song… Ahhhh… products of the “content whenever I want it” digital age…

Last night, on YouTube, I pulled up this MJ video with 13 minutes of moonwalking all compiled into one video.

I was a little disappointed it didn’t start with one of his early ones (I thought it was interesting how he slowed the beat down as he aged…) but even still, the kids were transfixed.

Crazy, the first moonwalk I ever saw (at the 12:20 mark of the video) was barely three steps. Some of them in this video are all the way across the stage with some sideways thrown in too.

So, less than four minutes in, both of my kids were laughing and giggling while trying to do it.

Just like I did 33 years ago at that place we used to wait for a bus to pick us up.

Vintage Youth Soccer ShirtPIAC Addendum:
For the record, my older son does ride the bus to school each morning but I suppose no one ever refers to it as a bus stop anymore…

Probably because it’s practically a door-to-door service now. Didn’t I blog about that, like, forever ago?

Oh, and my middle son Henrik, after just 15 minutes or so, practically has it. Even with shoes on, he does a better moonwalk than I ever could. Crazy how fast this species of ours is progressing!

Speaking of the soccer number (way up in the fourth paragraph), my older son thought he looked so cool in that 30+ year old youth soccer t-shirt he wore at soccer practice tonight. I mean, nothing but pride on his face.

Sure, call me a hoarder but I’m certainly glad I held on to it.

Err, all 20 of them.

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So, I should mention that I inadvertently stumbled across a youth hockey program that’ll take a 3-year old player on the roster.

The “season” starts May 11th and runs for 8 weeks. I’m pretty excited and I hope Duncan’s enthusiasm as it stands now is still present on May 12th after the first practice.

The downside to this program, and it’s a big one, is that it’s just barely local.

Okay, it’s about an hour from home…

Yeah, it’s a haul.

While I’m less than thrilled about that part of it, I’m trying to look at it like a test run of what’s likely to come.

See, youth hockey involves a TON of travel. It’s just not as popular as soccer or baseball where there are dozens of teams at each age level all under one Recreation Department’s control so… even when they’re youngsters, hockey teams are generally of the “travel team” variety.

The other advantageous part is that, in the fall when he’s 4 years old, he’ll be able to “transfer” to a team (more on that inna sec) that plays out of a rink 15 minutes from where we live. This summer’s experience will make that commute, provided he still wants to play, feel like nothing at all.

Now, when I started playing soccer as a 5-year old, the team that I played for (Go Crickets!) and the league we were a part of were governed by AYSO which is the American Youth Soccer Organization. Our uniforms even sported their logo.

Since I was only in kindergarten at the time, I’m not sure if my parents had to sign any sort of contract other than the standard “We won’t sue if he gets hurt” form that would have been submitted with the payment.

When I moved to Connecticut, I just played in a town rec league. Yeah, just like a local group that threw something together without an organizing body calling the shots. Oddly enough, even at 7 years old, the players in this program were far, far,far more advanced than what I was used to in the AYSO.

I went from a stud to a dud. I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked that an organization with endlessly long tentacles did a terrible job of developing talent…

(Insert any anti-ObamaCare, pro-assault rifle, or big government arguments you want in the comments here… I won’t bother responding beyond questioning how one can play both sides saying big government is stemming from an apparently unqualified community organizer… Yeah, whatever… Healthcare is good, guns are bad, and I’m indifferent on the size of the government.)

Anyway…

So, fast forward 30+ years and change the sport to hockey.

Youth hockey in the United States is, as far as I can tell, governed from coast-to-coast by USA Hockey. In order to join a team, I had to register Duncan with them, which I did about a year ago, and he was given an ID number that’ll be attached to him until he’s 18, I’d assume.

Thankfully, membership is free for those 6-and-under.

And by signing on with this team next month, I’m totally serious about the “signing” part. As a 3-year old, he’s signed a contract with this specific hockey program under the guidance of USA Hockey.

In order to play for a different team in the fall, his “contract” will need to be “released” by his current team and then “approved” and “transferred” by USA Hockey to the new team — if they still want him.

This is for a FOUR YEAR OLD!?

I’m not certain on the reasoning for so much paperwork and, well, processing. I suppose that since, unlike school districts or town rec leagues that have residency requirements, hockey programs draw players from neighboring towns so you don’t want one team scooping up talent on the fly from other teams as if they’re minor league feeder programs without any governing body involved.

No joke, little kids have contracts that are “traded” just like the professionals.

While I’m sure it is all just paperwork and I’m thinking about this a little too much, can you imagine if there’s a dispute with a program? Like as if they won’t release your contract?

I am aware that it does happen, denied releases, that is, but I’m clueless as to the circumstances. Payment issues, perhaps… I dunno.

I just think it’s a bit much.

Sure, it’s a money making venture for USA Hockey to collect a fee from every player in the country to “grow the game” or whatever, which I totally understand and support, but even for the kids under-6 years old that aren’t paying that membership fee? Really?

Oh, and get this… Figure Skating is the same way…

Hopefully being a registered USA Hockey member doesn’t mean that he can’t play for Team Canada when the time comes…

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So we’re counting down the days now until my first born turns 4.

(the second born actually turns 2…tomorrow!)

Crazy — right?

For those who’ve been reading the content on this silly website over the years, his “birth posting” probably doesn’t feel like that long ago. Sorry to tell you, it is.

Anyway, what’s the big deal with turning 4?

Organized hockey.

Yep, when he turns 4, he’ll be old enough to sign on with a USA Hockey sanctioned hockey team. He’s excited. And it’s safe to say that I’m excited too.

Very excited.

The downside is that he turns four just as the weather is, well, let’s just say it’s not traditional ice hockey weather.

Sure, with a little effort, elite level teenagers might be able to find a tournament only team to skate with in June, July, and August but a four-year old?

No such luck. Especially in the United States.

But that won’t deter us. We’ll work on his stick handling and hockey sense more this summer (as well as with the soon-to-be two years old brother who I’ll predict right now will be the better player eventually) to give him a HUGE advantage over other kids his age.

That said, I think he’s already light years ahead of most in his age group, skill-wise, anyway, and that’s not just because I taught him everything he knows.

I’m realistic enough to know that he’s likely not the next Wayne Gretzky.

He’ll be a darn fine Mite. He might even be a good Squirt before the other kids start catching up…

(Youth hockey levels have the silliest of names…)

But the key thing we need to work on is his skating.

He can be the best stick handler in the world or even have the hardest slap shot but it won’t mean anything if he can’t skate…and, as of right now, there are definitely kids in his age group, though a very select few, that are much further along.

He’s been on skates now for almost and entire year.

There have been really promising ups… and some discouraging downs along the way.

One week I think he finally has it and then, the next, it’s like he’s lost all ability to balance himself on strips of metal 3mm wide…on ice.

He’s three.

I get it.

I’m not going to push him like a crazy honey boo-boo type of parent but I’m certainly going to encourage “hockey” every chance that I get.

So far, my enthusiasm is met and both kids take direction really, really well. I’m ecstatic.

The plan is to be on the ice at least once a week from April through September — with a slight chance of a “real” learn to skate class worked in as well.

Most hockey programs require a learn-to-skate class (within their program) prior to joining a team, especially with such a young player, but I’m hoping to bypass that entirely.

He can skate in circles or around cones all he wants with me during a public skate. What I can’t offer is a real hockey environment in full equipment.

He wants to be a “hockey guy”, not take lessons.

I took a learn to skate class as a kid. For me, it felt more like an introduction to figure skating… and that’s not really what I wanted or needed at the onset.

Don’t get me wrong, while I’m not real keen on ever seeing my boys in tight sequin shirts, figure skating is awesome too. The speed a figure skater can generate in two strokes, going backwards, is truly amazing.

It’s no wonder than NHL teams usually have a figure skater on staff (usually female too) continually showing the multi-millionaires how to skate properly to improve their game.

Most figure skaters could skate circles around any professional hockey player. While twirling.

Anyway, for me, while I was a bit older than three at the time, what I needed most was… ice time.

Observation, which my kids get plenty of, and ice-time to mimic the movements.

Ice-time is clutch.

A 45-minute session with a world class figure skater once per week, while definitely valuable, isn’t what I think would be best for a little kid just getting started.

Two practices a week and cross-ice games on Saturday and Sunday — in addition to a public skate with the family — would make skating like second nature in short order.

That’s what jumping right on to a team will offer.

Are five days a week on the ice too much for a four year old?

My head says yes — perhaps even too much of a time commitment for me.

But my kids want to “play” hockey in the kitchen pretty much all the time so… maybe it’s not too much.

And, as a bonus, my kitchen floor will be spared some abuse.

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Well, we’re back from our weekend away and I’m going to exercise the ability to plead the Fifth when it comes to how much I ended up spending and on what.

It’s embarrassing.

Don’t worry, though, I’ll spill the beans when it comes time to list out my expenses for the month — I’m just hoping the recent surge in the market keeps up and bails me out of the “negative” month I’m currently lining myself up for…

Anyway, Duncan refused to do a traditional blog post today (at 8 weeks, he feels that he’s too old for that sort of thing) so, instead, here’s a video post:

Does anyone know what he’s talking about?

I have a hunch that it has something to do with his dad spending so much money on silly things…

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Keeping a keen eye on the baby while still at the hospital...This post is about how much it costs to have a baby.

Put simply, I like real world examples…

For any programmers out there, the classic “Hello World!” example on page one of every compter geek book is the most useless example of anything ever created.

Now, I know I’ve read a similar posts to this on other sites but I’ve never actually seen real numbers.

Just meaningless guesses really…

Like, this may be a huge tangent but remember that time that I had that plumbing problem where my whole house smelled like Starbucks coffee?

Well, I researched the crap out of that on the internet trying to get a ballpark figure of how much it might cost to get fixed…

I found a lot of advice, yeah, but every single place I found tip-toed around an actual number…

“Anywhere between $300 and $1500″ just doesn’t cut it — way too wide of a window.

I couldn’t find anyone that actually flat out said what they were charged for the same, apparently very common, type of project. No one.

Trying to fill the void, somewhat, I posted exactly what it cost me.

Sure, for some, it could be higher or lower, but that’s exactly what it cost me. A starting point for anyone in that situation…

So here’s a real world example of how much it costs to have a baby — not to take care of a baby, but just to “have” one:

Costs of having a baby

I’m sure some out there will find this very informing. I know I would have…

Sadly this is just the “explanation of benefits” from the insurance company but once the more detailed hospital bill arrives, well, I’ll post that too.

Seriously, had I known that “Nursery R&B” were costing us nearly $1k per night, I probably would have insisted that we be able to take him home the first day…

What a rip off — the room wasn’t anywhere near nice enough to cost that much. ;0)

Can You Dig It?

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