Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Great Minnesota Weird Together

We made our annual pilgrimage to the Minnesota State Fair today. It is billed as the "Great Minnesota Get Together", which is true, but in my estimation most of the people that are doing the getting together are pretty weird. You see all sorts of weird people at a gathering like the State Fair, and today, with the temperature soaring into the mid-90s, we saw all sorts of weird people wearing way too little clothing. People that should not be wearing tube tops, skintight tank tops, shorty shorts, or no shirt at all, were. I even saw a 40-something mom wearing a bikini top and tight cut-off jean shorts. It's not a day at the beach, people, it's the State Fair! Please, wear more clothes!
A sea of weirdness at the Minnesota State Fair.    Photo Courtesy of Minnesota State Fair
On a much more fun note, even though we were wading through a sea of humanity that numbered in the tens of thousands, I saw six (6) people I knew at the Fair today. Four of them were people from church, who we saw all within about five minutes of each other, and the other two were both umpires that I know from playing in our summer softball league in White Bear Lake. I didn't notice either of them at first, probably because they weren't wearing their red umpire uniforms that I normally see them in, but they recognized me. I don't think it's because I've argued with them a lot throughout the years, but you never know. I know one thing is for sure. If they had been walking around wearing shorty shorts and no shirt, I would have noticed them! I'm certainly glad they weren't.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Different Side Of Me

A different side of people sometimes comes out in the bedroom. A strange side. A weird side. A side that you may never have thought existed. For me, that is my right side.

Every night I start the night laying on my right side. I do that because I sleep on the left side of the bed, and I like to fall asleep while facing my beautiful bride. Some times I even put my arm around her before drifting off to sleep. I have to remember to do that quickly, because the drifting usually starts approximately 5 seconds after my head hits the pillow. It's an idyllic setting - perfect for falling asleep quickly.

What happens next is not so idyllic. For some reason, sleeping on my right side invokes strange bodily reactions out of me. About half of the time, I am soon awakened by said beautiful bride, poking me in my shoulder because my snoring has gotten loud enough to ripple the drapes in the room. The other half of the time, I awaken myself, because within, oh, 5 minutes of falling asleep or so, I find myself in a puddle of drool that has turned my pillowcase into a swamp. Gross, huh? I think it's gross, and I'm the one drooling!

What happens next completely rectifies the situation, and it's so simple even someone like me can figure it out. Here's what happens: I turn over and lay on my left side. Easy peezy. I almost never snore when I'm on my left side, and I for sure don't drool. I don't know why, but for some reason God made all my quirkiness manifest itself only from my right side. OK, not all of my quirkiness, but the quirkiness related to sleepy-time things. I suppose I could just start out each night by sleeping on my left side, but that would make nighttime at our house too boring. And who wants that side of their life to be boring?

Friday, August 24, 2012

This, Too, Shall Pass

We've got a new favorite saying around our house: "This, too, shall pass." The Wife and I say it to each other approximately two to three hundred times a day. About 97% of the time we say it about something that the Baby either is doing or has done, with the Girl, the Boy, and the two mutts making up the other 3%. It seems to me that the Baby is much more ornery and/or all-out angry than our other two kids were at this age, but oftentimes the Wife will remind me that either the Girl or the Boy did pretty much the exact same thing when they were babies. Apparently I have a very selective memory about these things, because I usually don't recall that. All I seem to remember about the first few months of our our first two kids' lives is that they seldom cried, they were happy most of the time, and they slept like logs from the day they came home from the hospital. My mind must have blocked out the bad parts, in an attempt to make me open to having more kids. I guess it's worked twice already. I think I better start taking notes so I remember the misery more clearly in the future.

The Baby has been especially bad at night lately. We have gotten her to be pretty consistent about taking two naps during the day, one at mid-morning and another at mid-afternoon. We don't think that is too much sleep for a 5-month-old, but it may be, because she is turning into a really bad sleeper at night. She wakes up several times throughout the night, requiring us to either get up and give her her pacifier or get up and feed her some milk. Often times she does not want to go back to sleep, instead preferring to scream and cry for an unlimited amount of time. With our other kids we were able to utilize the "cry it out" method of getting the baby to settle down, but now the Baby shares a bedroom with her two older siblings, and they aren't big fans of listening to their baby sister sobbing uncontrollably for minutes on end, several times each night.
We have to figure something out, or else we all may be driven insane by our sleep deprivation. The Wife keeps poo-pooing my idea of moving to Canada, probably because she thinks it's too close - the kids could probably find us. We need to figure out something quick to make sure that this, too, shall pass.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

As you may have heard, we went camping this past weekend. All five of us plus the Wife's sister and our two annoying dogs made the trek across the border to the beautiful Willow River State Park just outside Hudson, Wisconsin. I know many Minnesotans who aren't real fond of the state of Wisconsin, for whatever reason. My assumption is that it's probably because the football team from that state, the Green Bay Packers, has won a bunch of Super Bowls, and our beloved Vikings have won zero. Us Minnesotans can be a jealous bunch, it turns out. Maybe there are other reasons, as well.

One of the reasons I love Wisconsin is the beauty that can be found in its great outdoors. Although having a reputation as being filled with flat farmland, Wisconsin is actually filled with thick forests, peaceful lakes, and tranquil streams. Willow River State Park has all of these things - especially trees. There are millions of trees, many of which were within the campground we stayed in.

The many trees were a nice buffer between our site and the neighboring sites, but they really caught the attention of the Boy, who loved pointing them out throughout our stay. But, instead of calling them by their actual tree names, which you would think any normal 2-year-old would be able to do, he pointed to all the trees, and yelled out "Coconut tree! Coconut tree!" At first we couldn't figure out why he was calling every tree a coconut tree, but then it occurred to us: he learned about coconut trees from our reading the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to him and his older sister.  
This photo of a coconut tree was not taken at Willow River State Park in Wisconsin
 Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a classic children's book from the 1980s that was written by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault. When I say it's a classic, that means two things. First, it's been a very popular book amongst parents for a long time. And secondly it means that it seems to me as though the authors were on drugs when they wrote it.

I consider most children's books that were written in the '80s or earlier to be classics, simply because it always seems to me that whoever wrote them had to be on drugs. Even the most revered children's books in history are that way. Have you read anything by Dr. Seuss lately? I mean, come on. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is the same way. It's about all the letters of the alphabet trying to climb to the top of a coconut tree, but it's sprinkled with strange scat sayings that came straight from the 1960s. "Skit skat skoodle doot. Flip flop flee." What does that mean? It's gibberish. Do we really want our kids to grow up talking like Mel Torme? No, I want my kids to speak English.

And don't get me started on the even older classic books, like The Three Little Pigs! Why did people think it was ever a good idea to write a story for children in which all the characters get eaten except one? Did everyone think that giving their children nightmares was a good thing? I probably will never understand.

Oh well, I guess it's good to know the Boy was at least paying attention when we read him Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Now that I know he is listening, I can move on to a more proper book that will teach him that all trees are not coconut trees. I'm thinking the Arbor Day Foundation's Tree Identification Field Guide is a good choice. That sounds like good bed time reading. We'll both probably fall asleep before we finish the first page.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dogs, Dirt, and Deer- A Lesson In Camping With A Plethora of Small Children

Late yesterday afternoon we got back from our first camping trip as a family of five. Some people probably think it is insane that we took a five-month-old baby out camping, but the insanity was doubled by the fact that we also brought our two annoyingly annoying dogs with us, just so that that they could bark and/or howl at every person, dog, squirrel and leaf that walked or fluttered within several hundred yards of our campsite. Thankfully the Wife's sister came with us, so she could wrangle the kids, dogs, or whatever else might need wrangling, and the Wife and I could deal with the other ones. It was a crazy few days, but at least it was terribly cold at night, so each morning the kids were too busy shivering to actually get into trouble. They pretty much just huddled around the campfire, waiting for a hot breakfast and some hot chocolate to help them warm up.

When they weren't shivering, the two eldest kids, the Girl and the Boy, spent most of their time playing in the dirt around our campsite. If there's one thing that Wisconsin State Parks have, it's dirt, and our kids found most of it. They brought some newly acquired toy shovels and buckets, so they had plenty of reason to throw piles and piles of dirt around, most of which ended up on their clothes, their faces, and in their hair. An added bonus from being covered in dirt was that the dirt acted as a kind of protective crust, keeping most of the mosquitoes at bay. I think it also acted as a kind of insulator, since neither the Girl nor the Boy ever woke up with icicles hanging from their noses. I'm pretty sure I did, so maybe I should have rolled around in the dirt with them.
Dear deer, you made me want to take my kids camping again. You are truly an amazing animal!

The weekend craziness was interspersed with some wonderful moments, as well. One of the coolest happened when I took the Girl and the Boy for a quick drive from our campsite over to the lake where we were going to try our luck catching some bluegills. The fish weren't biting, but on our trip to the lake, which was only about a half mile or so, we saw no fewer than 16 deer browsing along the side of the road. The boy thought they were moose, but despite that incorrect biological fact we all thought it was really cool, and made the evening very memorable even though we got skunked at the lake. It's even made me excited to take our crazy kids camping again soon. Those must have been some impressive deer!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Putting the Stuff Back in Nature

We don't have a huge house, but we have enough room for all of our stuff, even if the stuff doesn't always get put back where it's supposed to go. And now that we have three kids, we have a lot of stuff. All of that stuff multiplies the level of chaos in the house exponentially. I believe that if the kids' stuff wasn't laying around all over the place, the level of chaos would be just a faint murmur on the chaos-o-meter. But the kids' stuff is laying around all over the place, just waiting to be stepped on, kicked, or chewed on by the dogs, and so the level of chaos runs high. I suppose that we could all work more diligently at cleaning up after ourselves, but I think the best way to minimize the chaos would be to buy a bigger house. Then, even if the stuff was still laying around, at least we would have room to build pathways through it all by shoving it out of the way with our feet. Big ol' houses are pretty cheap nowadays, aren't they?

Instead of moving into a bigger house, for the next three days at least, we are moving our three children and our two yippy dogs into a much, much smaller house. Like, say, 8 feet by 6 feet. Yes, you guessed it, we are going camping for the first time as a family of five; seven if you count the mutts. And, by the looks of the mountain of gear that is piled up by the door, waiting to be packed into the minivan, we are taking most of our stuff with us. We even put the car-top carrier that came with the van back on the roof so we can bring more stuff with us. It is sure to be crammed full, and we'll need every square inch of the inside of the van, too. I can envision our dogs vying to sit on my shoulders as I drive down the road, because they can't find a place to sit. It's safe to put dogs in a car-top carrier, right? I think I just found a reason to leave it on all the time!
No dogs were hurt in the writing of this blog post.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hey Man, You Got Some Weed?

We had some landscape work done in our backyard a month ago or so. I should say that we had some landscaping done that gave us a backyard. Up until we got the work done, we didn't really have a backyard. We have a screened in porch off the back of the house, and our "yard" just sloped away from the end of the porch, down towards the little pond that we live on. There wasn't any level ground at all back there. Which meant that there wasn't anywhere for the kids to play, no room to put our grill, and no place to put a patio, if we ever wanted to do that. For the past 6 years we've kept our grill in the garage, and wheeled it out onto the driveway whenever we wanted to grill. The Wife, who does all the grilling, always assumed our neighbors thought she was a real redneck when she was out grilling on the driveway. I have always tended to agree - she did look like a redneck!

After years of thinking we could build a retaining wall and fill in and level off our backyard by ourselves, we finally came to the realization that we should probably hire a professional to do it. We are very happy we did, as the wall looks great, and the yard is level, and the whole project doesn't look like it is about to collapse like it would have if I had done it. We now have an actual backyard, with plenty of room to move about and have fun.

There is one thing that is keeping us from enjoying our new backyard, however. We decided to save some money by seeding the new area ourselves, instead of paying hundreds more dollars to have sod laid. We figured a couple of $9 dollar bags of grass seed and being adamant about watering made more fiscal sense, so we quickly got to work once all the heavy machinery was out of the yard. And things were looking really good back there within a few short days. We had seedlings all over the place, so we thought we would be spending our evenings running barefoot through our lush new grass in no time.
These weeds have taken over our new backyard. We hate them.
We kept up the watering, and our new sprouts quickly grew. But then they kept growing. And growing. Soon it was obvious that the grass seed we had spread was not what has turning our new yard green; it was some kind of tall, grass-like weed that was taking over, keeping the actual grass that we coveted from growing much at all. These weeds were everywhere! Not wanting to spread a bunch of weed killer, which we thought might not be good for the few tiny sprouts of real grass we did have, the Wife decided she would go out and dig up all these weeds by hand. So, every night for the past several weeks, once our gaggle of kids was snug in their beds, she has gone out into the near-dark to do combat with our bumper weed crop, which we just found out is called Yellow Nutsedge. She also had to fight off the swarms of mosquitoes which seemed to have formed some kind of evil alliance with the hated weeds. The Wife is slowly winning the battle though, as can be proven by the number of garbage bags I have filled up with dead weed corpses. Soon, all the weeds will be gone, and we will be able to enjoy our new backyard. For the time being, I guess we'll just have to show off our redneck side for a little while longer.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

40% More Chaos...

We just did the unimaginable. We willingly agreed to add to the chaos in our house for the next week by looking after my sister's and her brother-in-law's dogs. So now, along with our two toddlers and baby, we are housing our two yippy dogs, Toby and Gromit, and two more yippy dogs, Daisy and Mittens. Toby is always very welcoming to other dogs, because he is a very happy and annoying dog. Gromit is the exact opposite of Toby: unhappy and annoying. He does not like other dogs moving in on his territory, but, in reality, he doesn't like anything, period. He is about as grumpy as a living creature can be. We like to think of our two dogs as a "nice mix".
Daisy, my sister's dog, is a very nice poodle/cocker spaniel mix, who has the special talent of looking exactly like a miniature black sheep when she hasn't had her hair cut in a while. You could shear her and make a large sweater, or maybe fill a couple of pillows with her hair. Mittens is a lhasa apso/shih tzu mix. We haven't spent a great deal of time with Mittens, other than at the occasional family function. She seems very nice, but tonight in a new environment like our house, she has been a little skittish.
Mittens, safe and sound back in the house

The week of added chaos almost got off to a really bad start. About 5 minutes after my sister's brother- and sister-in-law left after dropping off the dogs, one of us, who shall remain nameless, let Toby out in the front yard so he could go potty. The problem was that Mittens snuck out without our seeing, and we didn't realize she was gone right away. First we thought maybe she was stuck in a room behind a closed door somewhere in the house, but soon it was obvious she wasn't inside. With just a little bit of panic, or maybe it was closer to extreme trepidation, the Wife went outside and called Mittens' name. Thankfully, she came bolting around the corner from over by our parked cars, eager to see somebody she recognized, even though we weren't her mommy or daddy. Hopefully she will get used to us and our chaotic house throughout the week, and won't try to escape again. Or, if she does, I'll try to talk her in to taking Gromit with. I could do without the grumpiness for a few days.

Reality Check

My softball team, the Waite Park Leviathan, had a wonderful season this summer. It was a season that none of us really expected. This was our 5th year playing in the White Bear Lake Men's Church League, and all of our previous seasons had been terrifically unspectacular. We had only had one winning season up till now, which made me think that we were what we were: a very mediocre softball team filled with a bunch of great guys who have a fun time playing together.

Then this season happened. Somehow we got transformed into a hitting machine, and our defense wasn't half bad either. If somebody on our team got on base, we almost always got them in to score a run. And everybody hit well - no matter how they had hit in past years. We didn't have a weak spot in the lineup. Our defense, though not perfect, also improved dramatically, so much that I would say we were easily the best defensive team in our league. We only gave up about 6 runs a game, which was 4 runs better than any other team in our league.

Since I am the coach of our team, I was ecstatic with how we were playing, even though I had no idea what the reason was. Being the blowhard that I am, I wanted to take all the credit, but even I had to admit it probably wasn't something I had done. We ended up winning the regular season championship along with the playoff championship in our league, and I thought , "Hey, we might as well keep playing and see if we can't win the State championship, too!" Little did I know that if we didn't actually go and try to win the state championship, we would have had just as much of a chance of winning it.
We all looked like this during the state tournament today.
Today was the day of the state tournament, so we all headed up to the lovely Andrews Park in Champlin, MN to see what we could do. It turns out, we couldn't do much. It was a double elimination tourney, so we were assured of playing at least two games, and that's exactly what we played. We did play better in the second game, but we ended up losing both, the first game by a score of 16-1, and the second by a score of 19-2! It was pretty ugly, but we had fun, and now we know that, even though we were the best team in our league, we all have a lot of room for improvement if we want to be in the caliber of some of those other teams. Whatever the case, we need to shake off all the bad feelings from today's massacres - fall ball starts in 6 days!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Up Next on the Runway: Paternity Clothes

Similar to how mommies get maternity clothes to wear when they are pregnant, I am of the belief that there should be a line of clothing for new daddies to wear once the baby has arrived. Not necessarily because we gain a lot weight when we reach fatherhood, although that does happen quite often. At least in my world it does. No, my proposed new mens' clothing doesn't have anything to do with our sizes. It has much more to do with the way it looks, primarily the patterns and colors that are used.

I think that new daddy's clothes should all come in camouflage colors, but not the type of camo that helps one to stay hidden while out in the woods. No. The type of camo that I am talking about doesn't hide the person wearing it, it hides the stuff that we new daddies are prone to spill or have smeared on us, if I may be blunt. Babies are notorious for spitting up milk and smearing snot and other bodily secretions all over whoever is holding them, and at least part of the time, that is daddy. There should be a line of clothing that takes that into account. It should come with various different sized smear and spit-up type patterns permanently dyed into the fabric. Then nobody would be able to tell if you really had spit up on you or not! This would save us daddies a lot of embarrassment in our everyday lives.
A common occurrence in houses around the world. Especially mine.
 Just yesterday, I went through the entire day at work, and then about 2 hours of a meeting at church in the evening before I realized that I had baby snot smeared all over the shoulder of the shirt I was wearing. I am sure that everyone I had come into contact with throughout the day was totally grossed out by it, because, let's face it, baby snot is pretty gross. Nobody said anything, but I wish they had. I would much rather face a small amount of humiliation by having someone point it out than to find it at the end of the day and not be able to do anything about it. If I was wearing my baby snot camo shirt there wouldn't have been a problem. I think I might be on to something here...

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Baby Has a New Hobby!

The Baby has become very proficient at rolling over in the past week or so. She can roll over with the best of them. It seems as though she hardly exerts any energy at all when she's doing it - one second she's laying on her back, and the next second she's on her tummy, without a peep or a grunt out of her. The problem is that she hasn't exactly figured out how to roll back on to her back, so she is stuck on her tummy until one of us turns her over. This wouldn't be problem, except for the fact that she totally HATES being on her tummy. So, the sequence always goes like this: 1. Baby rolls over. 2. Baby immediately starts crying. 3. Mommy or Daddy puts her back on her back. 4. Wait 10 seconds. 5. Start over at Step 1.

Apparently we haven't been very good at teaching her the Law of Cause and Effect. You would think that babies come out of the womb knowing it, but this baby sure didn't. Somehow we have to teach her that her
New Favorite Hobby, rolling over, always brings about her Least Favorite Thing, being on her tummy. So either she'll have to quickly learn how to enjoy being on her tummy, or we'll have to figure out how to keep her from rolling over. I'm thinking about propping her arms straight out at her sides with some popsicle sticks so she can't roll over. That seems like the most logical solution to me...

The Ramblings of a Recovering Phobic

Some of you may already know this, but I feel the need to write about it any way. For a long time I suffered from a debilitating case of anxiety and social phobia that kept me from living a normal, healthy life. Instead of being able to hang out with people, doing normal, everyday stuff, I felt the need to withdraw and avoid certain social situations all together. Since I didn't spend much time with other humans, other than the time that was required by my job, I filled my life with fish. Fishing became a passion for me; fly fishing especially. I went fishing as often as I possibly could. Five, six, sometimes even seven days a week I would go fishing, from March through September. On weekends I would spend pretty much every waking moment on the water, and on weekdays I would do everything I could think of to get out of work early, speed home to change my clothes, hop back in the car, swing by some random fast food restaurant, and then head east into western Wisconsin, which is home to a plethora of high quality trout streams, where I would fish until it was too dark to see. Then I would drive home in the dark, try to get some sleep, and wake up to do it all over again the next day.

There's gotta be a big trout lurking right next to that bank directly across from the guy. If that was me in the photo I would have caught it already...
Trout streams are beautiful places to while away a few hours. Languid and peaceful, they are a perfect setting to get away from the stress and anxiety of everyday life. I was able to lose myself in the natural world, where I had countless run-ins with interesting animals on a daily basis. Watching deer come out of the woods and sip water from the pool I was standing in is one of my most memorable experiences, but on pretty much every trip I was witness to some facet of life in the natural world. Turtles sunning themselves on exposed logs; muskrats busily swimming around, doing whatever it was they were doing; kingfishers noisily flying up and downstream, looking for a lazy fish to divebomb and have for dinner; bald eagles soaring a few feet overhead as they, too, were looking for a fish dinner. I saw all of these and countless other episodes of life out in the wild.

But the wildlife scenes were just an added bonus. The fishing was the main reason I kept going back day after day. Fly fishing is a very complex sport/art, and the act of fooling a wary trout on a fly that I concocted was a most therapeutic endeavor. I think being alone on a tranquil trout stream is one of the best prescriptions you could ask for if you are in the midst of agony or suffering, and I made sure to keep my refills coming.

A few years ago I sought actual medical help to deal with my phobias, and have been living a relatively normal life since. As you know, I have gotten married to an amazing woman, and we have three terrific kids. I don't have the time to fish nearly as much as I used to; in fact my days on the water have dwindled from almost 200 per year to somewhere between 5 and 10 per year. But I still have a deep-rooted love for the fish, the streams, and what they meant to me when I was in a time of need. I want to pass on that love to my kids, so that they can know the joy and peace that part of our world brought to me. The two older kids already have their own rods, and I've managed to help the oldest to catch a sunfish or two already. The Boy doesn't seem too interested yet, but I'll give him some time. An appreciation of the outdoors doesn't happen overnight, and it's too important for me to push it on him before he's ready.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Family Reunion Time!

Yesterday was the annual Anderson Family Reunion over in Spring Valley, Wisconsin. I know you're probably thinking that I went to the wrong reunion, since my last name is Hanson. Well, if you must know, my dad's mom's maiden name was Anderson. Rogna Anderson, to be exact. She is famous for being the only person in the history of the world ever to be named Rogna. She also was one of nine children, most of whom had lots of their own children, who have, in turn, had their own children, so now there are dozens, if not millions, of Anderson family cousins spread throughout the country. Every August a large number of us converge on the tiny burg of Spring Valley, where the family had its roots, to enjoy each others' company and eat copious amounts of hotdish.

This year's reunion had the potential of being especially fun because we had the chance to show off the newest member of the family, the Baby, to all of our cousins who hadn't met her yet. We were hoping that with all those cousins around, the Wife and I wouldn't have to be on baby duty too much, but realistically the Baby is not very good at being held by strangers. Or people she knows. For the most part, she only likes to be held by Mommy or Daddy, so we didn't get as much of a reprieve as we were hoping for. For this reason she is currently third on our list of favorite kids.
The Baby being held by my cousin, Jackie. This joyful scene did not last long.
All in all, it was a fun time getting back in touch with cousins that we don't often see, and it makes us look forward to next year's reunion, not only so we can see our family members again, but also because our kids will all be old enough to walk by then, so we can just let them roam around the park, and Mommy and Daddy can get some peace and quiet. We can't wait!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Billions & Billions of Years Ago...

If you have read this blog in the past, and let's face it, if you're cool you probably have, you should know that the Baby is 4 months old right now. Okay, if you asked her, she would say that she's actually 4 and a half months old, but nobody asked her. Which is good, because she's bound to go on and on and on about how 4 and a half month olds are way more advanced than 4 month olds, and how Mommy and Daddy don't give her the respect she deserves. Whatever. Any ways, if you've been around many 4 month olds, you probably know that that is the age that most parents start introducing "solid" foods to their baby's diet. I put the word solid in quotation marks back in that previous sentence because I, personally, don't consider pureed veggies, the most common form of "solid" food, to be all that solid. Instead, I consider them to be gross. No offense if you yourself are a pureed veggie.

Back when the Girl was just a baby, and not a 3 year old who also doesn't get the respect she feels she deserves, the Wife discovered an unusual, at least by today's standards, way of introducing solid food to a baby. It's officially called Baby Led Weaning, but that seems too confusing of a name to me, so I just call it The Way Babies Were Introduced To Solid Food For The Billion Or So Years Before The Invention Of The Blender. Instead of starting the baby on purees at 4 months, parents wait until the baby is 6 months old, and able to sit up by themselves, and then just start giving the baby big ol' chunks of meat, or actual (not pureed) veggies, or whatever else the parents are eating. The secret is that the chunks need to be big enough for the baby to hold on to, and then they just start gnawing on the food themselves. Within a couple of weeks, their finger dexterity grows exponentially, and pretty soon, they actually get the hang of eating real food. When we were transitioning the Boy to solid foods using this method, he was feeding himself lasagna, and a lot of it, within 3 weeks or so, and let me tell you, watching a 6 month old feeding himself piece after piece of lasagna makes for wonderful viewing if you're having dinner guests over. It's a hoot!

OK, enough of my ranting about Baby Led Weaning. I don't want to make traditional puree aficionados feel bad about how they are raising their kids. I just want to let new parents know that there is a different, really old, and we think wonderful, way of introducing solid foods to their baby. If anybody is interested, let me know and I'll tell you about a great book you can read that explains exactly how to do it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Why I Haven't Been Myself Lately...

You may have noticed an absence of new blog posts by me in the past week or so. My posts went from "So many that it's getting annoying" to "None". Maybe you noticed, and maybe you didn't. I know I did. I didn't post anything for several days because I could only concentrate on one thing - softball. I am the coach of my church's men's softball team, the Leviathan, and I have been for 5 years now. In those 5 years we have been anywhere from highly mediocre to downright squalid, or somewhere in between. I guess we did have one slightly above average year, in which we won more games than we lost, but it seemed like we barely won the games that we won, but when we lost we got completely obliterated. So I would consider that year to be on the mediocre side of things.

This year, something happened. Either the softball planets aligned, or we miraculously learned how to play well, or God felt sorry for us,or something. I am not sure what it was, and I don't think I ever will know what it was, but one thing was for sure: we won a lot of games. And we didn't just squeak out our victories, either. We annihilated teams. It didn't matter if we were playing against Lutherans, Catholics, or even Presbyterians, we made all those denominations say "Uncle!!" We cruised through the regular season with just one loss, and got the #1 seed for the playoffs. Things were looking good for me and my softball team.

And then the playoffs started. Our first game was against a team from a big ol' Lutheran church just up the way; a team we had just recently beaten by 19 runs. 19! I was confident, maybe too confident, that we would pound them again. It didn't happen quite that easily, but we did eek out a win by 1 run after falling behind early. Next we played another, smaller, Lutheran church in the second round, and again we fell behind, and had to make a valiant comeback to win by a run in extra innings. Needless to say, we weren't playing our best ball. But we were still winning, by some miracle. Next up was a perennial contender from a Catholic church that we had handled easily in the regular season by 12 runs. I don't think they remembered how we had dominated them earlier, because they came out and mopped the floor with us. It was sad, but we were still alive. We would just have to work our way back through the loser's bracket. We couldn't afford another loss, and if we wanted to win the championship we would have to win three games over good teams. That's how things stood after last week's games.
My team , the Waite Park Leviathan

So, being the completely softball-obsessed guy that I am, I spent the last week totally consumed with softball. I thought about game plans. I thought about batting orders. I thought about what snacks to bring so my guys wouldn't get hungry. I was in my own little vacuum, and nothing outside of softball could penetrate my brain. The Boy could have been the first 2-year-old to discover cold fusion, and I wouldn't have noticed. The Girl could have run away and eloped with the 4-year-old from down the block, and I would have told her to have a nice trip. The Baby could have gone from barely rolling over to doing a nice tap dance routine while on my lap, and I would have set her on the floor so I could watch film of our next opponent. Luckily, I don't think any of those things happened. I suppose I better ask the Wife just to be sure.

Yes, Freddie, we ARE the champions!
I got through the week without being too much of a nuisance to anyone, and we actually won three games last night to win our league championship. I think it was a surreal feeling for everyone on the team - kind of a mixture of euphoria and disbelief that we were actually that good. Now that the season is over I think I will be able to concentrate on life around our house once again. If the Boy can replicate his cold fusion stuff I'll be sure to write about it here. I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you, though. He is only 2, after all.