That’s a Dinger

We are now 3 and a-half weeks into summer vacation. Not gonna lie. It has been awesome. Mostly because there is no homework for the girls to do. Don’t feel guilty at all about saying that. Mom and I needed a break too. And a roughly 11 week break sounds about right.

Girls have been busy. Bails built this:

BunnyTrap

If you can’t tell from the sign that says “For Bunnies Only,” it’s a bunny trap. Here’s to hoping the literacy programs are better run than IT department at the IRS.

Bails won the Golden Bone award the last week of school. The award is given to all the 4th graders who correctly identify all the human bones on the skeleton test. In actuality it’s a dog bone painted gold. I told her good job. Her response?

“Dad, some people are good looking. Some people are awesome. I just happen to be both.”

“You don’t lack in confidence Bails.”

“That’s just the way I am man.”

The period of time between May 9 and July 6 encompasses nine weekends. We have softball tournaments on eight of them. Just two left however. Oh and Rye has dance three mornings a week and four evenings a week through the 4th of July. And we have softball practices in there a few times a week. And Bails was in this orchestra camp for the last two weeks. Scheduled right in the middle of the morning for the convenience of working parents. If you are searching for the word to describe this, its “stupid.”

Truth be told I’ve really started to enjoy the softball tournaments. Granted it’s a helluva lot easier when Bails hits a homer. Seriously. It was like a combination of Roy Hobbs and the 1978 version of Dave Parker. Except it didn’t clear the fence and there weren’t any sparks falling from the sky.

Gotta admit it was pretty sweet. Bails is not an imposing figure at the plate. The opposing coach never waves his outfielders back when she’s in the box instead a bunt warning is almost always issued. Yes, Bails is built like a pencil and no, she has not been blessed a great deal of height. But its not like she’s a stick figure walking up there. And most of these teams do not have extensive scouting reports. Notice I said “most” because after having spent some time around youth coaches, you realize that even though its 10U softball, some of them do have detailed scouting reports and advanced metrics.

Anyway, she hit the ball into the gap between two outfielders. The ground was pretty hard so when it landed and took a bounce it just took off and rolled to the fence. The complex we were at did a poor job of watering the fields so every time the wind kicked up, which was about every 14 seconds, it was like Maverick and Goose hitting the afterburners creating straight line winds in excess of 70 mph. At one point both the batter and catcher disappeared from view. Like Flight 19 back in 1945. But that meant we had some help from the wind too. As soon as I see the ball headed to the outfield, Mom and I are up yelling “Go 2! Go 2!” then we realize that she’s got a triple easy so we’re yelling “Go 3! Go 3!” She looked like she expected to be held at third but her coach sent her home. One time last fall she hit a liner past the shortstop and aided by a few fielding and throwing errors she came running into third at which point her coach gave her the hold up sign. But it was about 95 degrees that day and all we needed was one run to win the game. So she took it upon herself to just run home. Scored in a cloud of dust. Afterwards when I asked why she ran through the stop sign the coach, she told me “Dad, it’s really hot out here and coach said we could get ice cream if we won.” Good enough. This time she actually had permission to go home. And she didn’t even have to slide. Coolest thing was it wasn’t aided by a bunch of errors. She just beat the throw. Didn’t even realize she was safe until her team mobbed her on the way back to the dugout. Then the next time she’s up I notice something for the first time…the opposing coach telling his outfielders to back up. Damn right I was smiling.

The Final Days

Many days are cause for celebration. NFL kickoff Sunday for example. Admittedly diluted by Goodell and his Thursday night double header to start the season. July 4th always has a certain magical anticipation throughout the day. Also any day that I’m planning on getting nachos at Rock Bottom. And the last day of school. Which was Wednesday. The girls are excited. But their excitement pales, PALES in comparison to my own excitement. There no longer is homework to check, slips to sign, emails to read or logistics to manage. Okay, that last part is a huge load of crap. Transportation and logistics are still going to suck. Despite my inner voice telling me I should let the girls laze around the house all summer, Mom and I ignored that voice and signed them up for a boatload of stuff. Still doesn’t take away from our joy regarding the last day. I mean yes, we still have to go to work instead of sitting around until 10:00 watching Battle of the Planets and Tom & Jerry eating Cheerios. Which I didn’t mind doing when I was 10. But in the name of all that is holy, this last two weeks of school was absolutely killing us. Beating us down mentally and physically. Like the ’89 Pistons. End of the year projects for Kinz and Bails came at us like Mahorn defending the rim. Softball and dance plowed into us like Rodman patrolling the boards.

What is the freaking deal with projects being due the last seven days of school? C’mon man. The kids are already checked out. You hit that weekend after Mother’s Day and that’s it. You can’t really expect their best effort after that. Kinda like if you dropped by your neighbor’s house and he offered you a Schlitz. C’mon man, yes, it’s the beer that made Milwaukee famous but nobody still believes that when you’re your out of Schlitz you’re out of beer and seriously, nobody ever really went for the gusto when they grabbed a Schiltz. They probably went for the bathroom and grabbed the toilet with both hands. Which raises a question. How in the hell does Pabst Brewing stay in business? When you produce Schlitz, Old Style, Old Milwaukee, Olympia, Strohs and PBR aren’t you really just asking to have bankruptcy attorneys on staff? Geez, why don’t you just go ahead and revive Dubuque Star and Red, White & Blue?

Regardless, we had to supervise, cajole and sometimes threaten the girls into completing:

1-A project for Bails on Career Day. Project #1 involved Career Day. She came with me to work. And it really cannot be overstated how excited she was. Which is was cool but also a bit perplexing. I’ve been going to work for about 22 years and I’ve never been this excited. Part of the excitement likely had something to do with us stopping to get donuts and cookies for the office. And that fact that she was allowed to bring Mom’s Kindle with her. Also that I have a TV in my office and I told her that she’d probably get to watch some TV during the day. Here’s a pic of her walking up a really big staircase.

DSC02556

But her project was to bring back at least four “artifacts” from her visit along with several pictures adorned with captions describing said pictures. She also conducted an interview with me. The artifacts and pictures were to be placed on a gigantic poster board which eventually required me asking my neighbor to use his Tahoe Suburban to drive her to school with Kinz and his own kids. Not kidding. But she spent most of her Memorial Day weekend muscling her way through this. It took about 5 or 6 hours to complete mostly due to her inability to stay still. For some reason Bails decided to complete this project along with project #2 concurrently. So she’d move from the kitchen table after working on Project #2 to the family room floor and attach some pictures and write some captions on her gigantic poster for Career Day. And maybe this happens in your house too but what the hell is the deal with kids doing projects in an area of the house limits your mobility to walk from room to room? At one point I could not get to the couch in the family because of the poster, construction paper and sharpies all over the floor.

2-A one page letter Bails had to write pretending she was a character in a book she recently read. The objective was to write a letter as that character and send it to another character in the book. Not totally sure of the objective. Likely something to irritate parents. Or possibly something about putting yourself into somebody else’s shoes and seeing things from their perspective. Or I just made that up because getting Bails to write it was like getting Princess Leia to admit she had feelings for Han while they were stationed on the ice planet of Hoth.

3-A State’s Fair project for Bails. Every year the 4th graders hold a State’s Fair. They make…wait for it…gigantic posters detailing important facts and information about the state of their choosing. Four years ago Rye chose Missouri and renamed it “The Awesome State.” Not sure if that ever went to popular referendum. Two years ago Kinz chose California and I made sure a picture of Ronald Reagan made it onto the poster. Bails chose Idaho. She wanted Pennslyvania since I lived there back in the 70’s but the kid right before her picked it so she went with Idaho. Not sure why. We’ve never been there. When I inquired as to her reasoning she let me know that Idaho has a weird shape so she went with it. Good enough. But neither her nor I knew anything about Idaho other than they grow a lot of potatoes and Sun Valley is evidently a popular resort. Turns out fishing is a big deal up there, huckleberries are native to the mountainous areas of northern Idaho and it was the 43rd state. She also decided she wanted to bring a snack of Idaho food to people to try. Naturally her choice was french fries. Excellent decision. Except for the fact we had no way to keep them warm. Which also meant we had no way to prevent them from becoming cold and soggy. So, since huckleberries are native to the mountainous areas of northern Idaho, she went with that.

Did you know that huckleberry products are not widely available in supermarkets?

Eventually we found huckleberry fruit curd at Whole Foods. Bails said it tasted like sweet and sour sauce. I took her word for it.

4-A World’s Fair project for Kinz. She chose Poland. Everybody in the house, except for Mom, is Polish. I’m half Polish. The girls are a quarter Polish. I detailed my feelings about this before back in May 2012. We think Polish is the largest nationality, by percentage, they possess. I say “think” because Mom has no real idea what her nationalities really are. We’re fairly certain she’s German. She also suspects she has a bit of English heritage. Maybe Scottish, not really sure. Two years ago Rye chose England and we made some English cookies or some such crap. This year Kinz insisted on bringing something Polish. Mom and I in turn insisted we were not going to cook, bake or make anything. So if you’re not going to grill some kielbasa or make some pierogi’s, what the hell is left? Lucky for us poppy seed cakes and rolls are a traditional Polish dessert. We bought some poppy seed muffins, cut them into bite sized pieces and called it good. Polish-American ingenuity.

5-An inordinate and totally inappropriate, at least in Rye’s eyes, amount of homework regarding the Civil War and its causes.

Truth be told, I was kinda excited about Rye having Civil War homework. You know how many people I can talk about the Civil War in our house? Zero. Or some number less than that. Let’s also remember that this is homework Rye believes is completely unacceptable due to its timing during the school year. But more infuriating is the absolute indifference she shows towards the Civil War era of our nation’s history.

“Dad do you know anything about the Compromise of 1850?”

“Yes.”

“Awesome how did the Compromise of 1850, Bleeding Kansas and the Dred Scott decision help the common man?”

“What? That’s the question you have to answer?”

She said something in response at this point but all I was able to make out was a long sustained whining noise. Finally I couldn’t take it.

“Good Lord Rye, literally right behind you on that table is The Patriot’s History of the United States. Contained within its pages are historical facts. At the back is this thing called the index.”

But I couldn’t take it and looked it up the stuff myself. Yes, I should have had her do it. But I reached that place where parents find themselves at various points during their parenting days. That place is found at the intersection of Just Go Away Drive and Please Stop Whining Street.

But she finished. As did the school year. They have two days of summer vacation in the books so far. And yes, they are already bored…