Tank Battles and Other Things

You know what song you can’t help but sing along with?

This one:

It was streaking up the charts 25 years ago this week. You know what else was hot this week back in ’86?

Jams. C’mon man, you miss them.

Regardless, we’re having the second round of parent-teacher conferences this week. Naturally, these three additional scheduling requirements come during a week when we’ve been asked by our church to help out with some advertising. It has become apparent, to me anyway, that we’re hottest family in the church. There’s no other logical explanation as to why the pastor asked us to be on a billboard for the church…unless we were the only family dumb enough to agree to do it. Hmmm…

So, in addition to our drop-offs and pick-ups for gymnastics on Tuesday and dance on Thursday, we added a conference Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday morning and Wednesday afternoon. Plus, we thought Wednesday afternoon was a good time to pile on our photo shoot. They wanted us to make surprised faces as in “man, those folks look like they are having a surprisingly great time at that church.” The girls had absolutely no problem hamming it up with goofy faces. Photographer had to ask Bails to dial it down a bit.

Good news is that all the girls are doing well academically. Oddly, they seem to have math skills. Bailey is having some trouble getting to her desk on time in morning. A fact I find confusing. She’s in first grade. How exactly are you late when the daycare bus drops you off at the front door of the school and you only have to navigate two turns to get to your room? It’s not like she’s walking to school constantly distracted by bugs and flowers while fighting off killer ninjas. When she gets to her room she has to take off her coat and get her folders out of her backpack. That’s it. It’s not like she’s trying to guard Glen Rice during his ’89 NCAA Tourney run. She’s evidently getting stuck at her locker for some reason. Again, weird because the only things of note on or in her locker are a pair of socks and a sweet Steeler helmet magnet. Go Bails!

Kinsey’s and Riley’s conferences continue to get easier as they get older. I hope this trend continues and has better staying power than the Obama Agenda or Baltimora. But I gotta admit I was confused a bit by the reports we received. I mean Kinsey’s teacher said absolutely nothing about her losing her temper and unleashing the fists of fury. And Riley’s teacher had no information regarding her instigating conflicts among other kids for her amusement. But hey, thank God for small favors I guess.

Speaking of small favors, I send Bails to bed Tuesday night. About a half hour later I go up the stairs to make sure everybody is sleeping. Hmm…that’s weird, the TV in our room is on and there’s a small blond 1st grader watching it.

“Bails, what’re you doing? You’re supposed to be in bed.”

“I was going to bed but I got distracted.”

“Distracted by what? Wait, what’re you watching?”

“Tank battles.”


“Yeah, it’s cool. The German tanks are tough.”

I evidently left The Military Channel on and she was watching Greatest Tank Battles.

So Bailey’s approval ratings are on the rise in our house.


It All Matters

The biggest play of the Super Bowl wasn’t Rashard’s fumble although the hugeness of that play was apparent the second it happened. The biggest play was on the Steelers drive before that. Here’s why: Steelers force the Pack to punt to open the second half. Steelers run the ball down Green Bay’s throat and make it 21-17. Steelers force the Pack to punt again. After a couple more runs, its 1st and 10 at the GB 44 with 6:50 left in the 3rd quarter. At this point 6 of the 7 plays the Steelers have called are runs. The Terrible Towels are flying, the place is rocking and GB’s sphincters are getting pretty tight. Then…Ben fires deep and overthrows an open Mike Wallace inside the Pack’s 10 on what was a sure TD. Great call, bad throw. Ben makes that throw, like he had done all year, and it’s 24-21 Steelers and the NORAD Command Center in Cheyenne Mountain goes to Defcon 1 because the soundwave generated by Steelers fans in the Jerry Dome knocks out most of the communications and radar capabilities west of the Mississippi.

Granted there was a lot of time left and Aaron Rodgers is pretty damn good. But I sure would have liked to have seen the game unfold from there.

Anyway, I think Bails might have been more upset than me at the outcome. She watched the entire game with me. The whole thing. She hasn’t stayed in one room that long since she was in the womb. I had on my Steelers sweatshirt and Bails had on her Bettis jersey. It’s 14-0 and I stand up and tell her, “That’s it kiddo we need a karma change.”

I ditch the sweatshirt that had performed so well during the playoffs and grab my Franco Harris throwback jersey. I get back downstairs, grab a couple pillows for Bails and I, and hit the floor.

“Why are lying on the floor now Dad?”

“It’s 14-0! We need to change things up. It might be our fault!”


She fell asleep when it was 28-17 so she missed the rest of the game. When I woke her up to carry her upstairs she asks, “Dad, did the Steelers win?”

“Nope. They lost kiddo.”

Then the most beautiful and moving thing I’ve witnessed in quite some time happened. Bails teared up. Because the Steelers lost. I gotta admit, for just a moment, I was so proud of her I didn’t care about the game….but then I remembered the three turnovers.

Riley and Kinsey had softball camp Sunday night too. This came after a pseudo-try out on Saturday afternoon. The coaches watch them take swings, some grounders, etc. Kinz went first. She fielded 2 or her 3 grounders cleanly and on her first throw she launches it over the coaches head, over parents behind the coach and into the bleachers. The Mom next to me leans over to her husband, “She looks promising…”

She took 4 cuts off the tee and made solid contact. She runs over to me and I tell her that the other parents were impressed with the throws and that the coaches all were taking notes while she was swing.

“Is that good?”

“Yeah, I think so. The coaches write down if they thought you had a good swing or one that needs some practice.”

“Well, I was swinging pretty good today. Mama plays to win!”

But back to the camp – I’m seriously thinking about pulling them out of softball this year because of the ill-timed camp. It’s 14-3 when Mom loads them up to take them to camp. While she’s gone Ben throws a pick and the Packers make it 21-3. She gets back and the Steelers almost instantly make it 21-10. Then it’s 21-17 and she has to go pick them up. While she’s gone Rashard fumbles and the Packers make it 28-17. She gets back just in time to see the Steelers make it 28-25.

More proof? When the game started she was sitting and watching it. She rarely watches the Steelers with me. She usually is reading a book, periodically looking up when I start cursing. So she notices that she’s not reading so she grabs a book, moves to her usual spot and starts flipping pages. Result? Steelers score on their next drive to make 14-3.

So I’m telling you…it all matters.

Some things I think I think

How the hell are you supposed to keep up with the amount of emails your kids’ teachers send home? And how did teachers communicate with parents prior to this? We get an email every week from the kids’ teachers giving us a report of what the class did that particular week. Sometimes we’re blessed to get an additional email from Bailey’s teacher letting us know about how she decided to take a creative path back to the classroom from bathroom or how she thought it would be helpful to relocate items within the classroom.

Other times we get multiple emails regarding special things going on at the school or opportunities for the kids like soccer, softball, chess club, computer club, homework reminders, parent-teacher conference sign up sheets, there’s a Valentine’s Day party next week not to mention a special family dance Saturday evening, Rye has an orchestra fundraiser going on and the PTA sends home a weekly update. Oh, and there’s a school carnival coming up. And there are couple reminder emails about the citizenship project Rye has due. Along with some weird guidance study permission form we need to sign to allow Rye to participate in the study.

I really have no plan to improve this situation either other than mentally divide the emails into stuff I need to remember and stuff that I probably can ignore. If Rye wasn’t blessed with innate logistic and planning skills, we’d be screwed. She does her homework without being reminded and balances it with violin, saxophone and dance.

Turns out the outlet for all of that organizational talent is the fact that she’s a slob. I’m not kidding. This won’t surprise my folks because they’ll tell you that I went through a period of time where my neatness level was right down there with the offensive production of the ’90 Patriots. My room looked like New Orleans after Katrina. My Mom has stories of my room more legendary than Joe Elliot’s Union Jack shorts.

Here’s an example of Rye’s seemingly incongruent qualities. Two nights ago I walk by her bedroom door, she hears me and whispers, “Dad, could you come in here.”

“What? You’re supposed to be asleep,” I said as I tripped over laundry stacked on her floor. Laundry that I strategically stacked on her bed to prevent her from being able to get under the covers without putting it away. I failed to account for her counter strategy of just moving onto the floor. The infuriating part is that it probably took more energy to pick the clothes up off her bed walk over to her closet and put them on the floor. Her socks and jeans literally go into a drawer less than 4 feet from where the clothes were sitting while they were on her bed. But she walked a good 8 feet to move the clothes to the floor. The floor located directly in front of her closet where she could have hung up the 3 or 4 shirts. Seriously, it takes less than 30 seconds to hang them up. You know what can happen in less than 30 seconds? Troy Polamalu can grab a fumble and take it to house, that’s what.

But back to laundry, you what is worse Rye’s laundry failures? She put the clean clothes right next to a pile of dirty clothes. A pile of dirty clothes located so close to her dirty clothes hamper that the dirty clothes in question were physically touching the hamper.

I now understand why my mom just gave up and closed the door to my room.

Anyway, here’s the conversation we had.

“Rye the clothes on your bed was a hint to put them away.”

“Oh, well its just easier to wear them than put them away.”


“Dad, what is a business plan?”

“What? Why? You’re in 5th grade. You don’t need one.”

“How about insurance? I’ve always wondered what that was.”

“You’re still 11 right?”

“And…um…I feel really bad about my orchestra fundraiser.”

“This is a lot of stuff you’re worried about.”

“Well I didn’t sell enough stuff. I didn’t do my part.”

“Holy Crap Rye, you’re more responsible than some of the people I see at work every day. You have plenty of time to figure out business plans and insurance. And you can’t sell any more stuff for orchestra between now and tomorrow morning. Relax and go to sleep. ”

Outside of that we had, what has become for us, a normal week. We had a mini-blizzard followed by negative temps. Maurkice Pouncey is out for Super Bowl. And Kinz was home two days sick so we missed some work time. But I did get to watch the ’78 and ’79 Steelers on America’s Game on the NFL Network. The ’79 Steelers don’t get the credit they deserve. That was an old team that led the league in scoring and total offense.

Last thing, I’m at dance Thursday and the tiny room in which we get to wait is packed with Moms, kids and winter coats. And one Dad who has that end of the week parent exhaustion look that many of us take on by Thursday evening. Normally when I’m there I read or write posts for this blog. But Thursday it was more packed than the front row of Poison video without the big hair and fist pumps. So I ended up watching the girls. I’m just spitballin’ here but the recital routine they are learning looked, to me anyway, to be some P90X moves, an unsportsmanlike conduct signal every now and then and the crane move Ralph Macchio used to kick Billy Zabka in the face in Karate Kid.

But maybe that’s just me.