Thank You, Leo Our Boy, for Your Love

photo credit: red5standingby via photopin cc
photo credit: red5standingby via photopin cc

This is a post about a boy.

It’s about a boy cat. A boy cat named Leo. Leo looked like a dollar-store plush toy. With unkempt fur and unmatched temperance and a meow too meager for his mass, Leo was Marie’s first best friend, really, a best friend with crooked whiskers and dark brown tabby stripes. A few months ago, Leo got sick.

Not long after, Marie had to say goodbye to her boy, Leo.

We bought special food to make him well, and sometimes he ate it. Sometimes, he just sat next to the bowl. Marie sat with him in the kitchen. She’d place the bowl in front of him, and move it when he moved, to keep it in front of him.

Marie wanted to give Leo every chance.

Continue reading “Thank You, Leo Our Boy, for Your Love”

How to Snatch Victory from the Jaws of Defeat, or, Happy Birthday, Marie

 

birthday lede
photo credit: Day 5 – These are not the droids we’re looking for via photopin (license)

So, Marie turns 13 today.

Happy birthday, Marie. As cool as it will be, it’ll be hard to top her birthday two years ago. See, that’s when Marie turned 11. On 11/11/11. We might have told a few people this as we made our way through that day.

Like, anyone within a 2-meter radius, or who even almost made eye contact with me.

This post appeared on Modern Parent Online (a now defunct website, so I can use this word-for-word) when Marie turned 11. How green of me, right? Besides, I’m busy making Korean pancakes for her birthday breakfast.

Continue reading “How to Snatch Victory from the Jaws of Defeat, or, Happy Birthday, Marie”

Twisted Mix Tape: The Coach Daddy Lullaby Collection

My Skewed View

When you’re talking “Twisted Mix Tape,” you probably don’t expect Bing Crosby and Harry Connick Jr.

 

Those are two of the suavest honkeys in suave honkey history. “Twisted Mix Tape” ought to refer to Quiet Riot and Lindsey Stirling (left) and Twisted Sister and, yes, Ke$ha. But for Jen Kehl’s popular weekly tribute to the art of the mixtape, anything is possible.

“Twisted Mix Tape” this week calls for “Dealer’s Choice” for your selections. I nearly went with “Songs Coach Daddy Hears When He Eats Cheeseburgers, Gets Geeked Up for Soccer Matches or Thinks About Dana Perino.”

But, who can cut a list of such songs down from 47?

I went all sensitive for this one, and I asked the girls which songs they remembered me singing to them at bedtime. (Hint, none of them were by Quiet Riot or Ke$ha).Continue reading “Twisted Mix Tape: The Coach Daddy Lullaby Collection”

Guest Post from Rory, of Time Out for Mom: Win or Lose, I’m in it

stormtrooper columbus bluejackets socks NHL

The running gene seems to skip a generation.

Exhibit A: Me. The dude who needed Girls on the Run to conquer a 5K, as I followed Marie’s swinging ponytail.

Exhibit B: Rory, from Time Out for Mom.

We each have kids who run, though. So, we’re sort of a sacrifice for our kids to really spread their wings. Or feet. Whatever.

Continue reading “Guest Post from Rory, of Time Out for Mom: Win or Lose, I’m in it”

Peelstar Decals: A Cool Alternative to Season-Ending Trophies

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc
photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

My girls are awesome in their element. When I played sports, I had an element, too. It was called the bench.

My girls don’t spend too much time in my element. Ask my parents. Hey, there’s my boy. Him, the one with the bat in his hand. No, not at the plate. No, not on deck. He’s the one balancing a Gatorade cup on the end of his bat.

I could hope for junk time, though. There’s always hope for junk time.

Continue reading “Peelstar Decals: A Cool Alternative to Season-Ending Trophies”

5 for Friday: Go Ask Daddy About Burial Depths, Elvis Sightings and Caveman Authenticity

photo credit: stickerHelsinki via photopin cc
photo credit: stickerHelsinki via photopin cc

You know coaches love stats.

I’m a coach. I love stats.

Some are less disturbing than others. Like, the Denver Broncos averaging 51.5 points per game in their past two victories. Or Grace averaging 1.0 goals per game in her past two matches.

Or me averaging 2.3 pizza crusts from my girls on a given Pizza Phriday night.

Continue reading “5 for Friday: Go Ask Daddy About Burial Depths, Elvis Sightings and Caveman Authenticity”

Sometimes, it’s Back to the Drawing Board – Even for the Coach

My heart didn’t give out Sunday night.

My deodorant definitely did.

See, when Matt Prater’s kick sailed through the uprights to give my Denver Broncos a stomach churning 51-48 victory against the Dallas Cowboys, my pulse could finally start a slow decline. For a coach, it’s sometimes tougher on the ticker to watch a team you love, but don’t coach.

What a weekend.

It included a day hot as skillet and packed with three straight soccer games. (Guess who wore a black polo shirt on the sideline for the 85-degree day?). Those three soccer games included:

  • A gritty 2-0 victory for Marie’s unbeaten Muleicorns (really their name!)
  • A 2-2 tie for Elise’s Dragons (with no substitutes for either team!)
  • A 7-1 loss for Grace’s Dynamite (against a team we beat 2-0 on opening day)

Emotionally drained and slightly sunburned at midnight Saturday, I watched my alma mater, UNC Charlotte, fall behind by 21 points in the fourth quarter in a game I DVRed, only to rally for 29 points in a 53-51 victory against nationally-ranked Gardner-Webb.

So, that’s 109-108, good guys, if you’re keeping track at home. (With goals from each of my girls!)

That luckily doesn’t include the pretend butt-kickin’ my fantasy team, the Sun City Skunk Kings, are currently enduring at the hands of my brother-in-laws’ team, the Steepleton Silverbacks.

Here’s the thing, though: This lineup isn’t unusual for a typical weekend.

As head coach to one soccer team, assistant to two more, owner of a fantasy team, supporter of an NFL team and alumnus of a school playing its first season of football, I’m used to tons of games between Saturday morning and Sunday night. Wins, losses, ties, goals and heartbreaks.

What I’m not used to is losing my cool.

My composure.

My perspective.

And my edge.

# # #

I’m the coach who says winning will take care of itself. Then, more times than not, wins anyway.

It’s years of experience. It’s always keeping the kids first, not just saying that’s what I believe. It’s an emphasis of effort over outcome, teamwork over titles. A love for your teammates. And the game. Don’t worry about what the opponent is doing, I say. Worry about what your team is.

But as goals piled up against Grace’s Dynamite … 3-0, 4-0, 5-0 … the coach who usually watches the game with arms folded, hand on a chin sometimes, processing, assessing, adjusting … well, he had nothing. Nothing but exasperation, frustration, and unflattering demonstration.

Not nearly enough imagination, explanation or affirmation.

As the Dynamite wilted in their pink jerseys under harsh sunrays and an opponent that sensed their weakness, my coaching philosophy shriveled, too. Lost were lessons to be found in adversity, that thought that a child’s mental musculature will flex when they’re tasked with finding a way to fight back.

Instead, I wrote them – and myself – off. At 2-0.

# # #

The discomfort of my degradation on field 1 that day lacked the clarity I needed to make sense of it, during, and immediately after.

When Grace, usually a wellspring of heart and scoring opportunities, asked to be taken out of the game, moved back to defense, I questioned her. “Why? What’s wrong with you?”

“Why won’t you help us?”

When Grace and her teammates retreated, flat-footed, as the spirited opponent beat them to every ball, I wondered out loud what was going on.

Why.are.we.walking?

The blue team isn’t walking!

“Dad,” Grace answered. “We’re walking because we’re tired.”

# # #

At halftime, I like to stand alone for a minute or two. Let the kids guzzle Gatorade and put away the Powerade, talk it over on their own, then join the fray and give a couple of points before the second half. This day, I stood on the field with my assistants, indignant, speechless, disconnected.

I don’t remember what we told the team, but they went out in the second half to a worsening outcome. I gritted my teeth. I walked away from the bench.

What can I do?

I gazed at the sky, wondering what dad must think of his son right now.

The team sat silent afterward, cookies and juice packs distributed.

Still, I had nothing.

I kept my eyes on the ground at my feet, the tension of parents and players waiting for answers, for hope, for perspective, for something.

“Bring it in,” I told my Dynamite. “I’ll see you at practice on Tuesday.”

Where was the knowledge? Where was the hope? Where were the words that could have given some indication I had an answer, a direction to turn, a way to make a lesson of the mess we left behind?

I imagined the coaches I admired most – Mike Shanahan, Bill Walsh, John Wooden. What would they have done?

UNC Charlotte coaches, when fate looked grim late in the game, told their players, “be at your best when your best is needed.” I could have said that to my Dynamite, right?

I could have listened to that advice, too.

# # #

This is youth soccer, after all. Not life or death.

But the lessons … I take them seriously.

The kids will forget the scores. They’ll forget the standings. What I hope is that 10, 20, 30 years from now, they’ll remember the lessons.

That’s why, as soon as I’m done writing here, I’ll open a fresh page on a tattered notebook. I’ll turn past notes from Saturday.

I’ll make a new plan.

With an old philosophy.

Because right now, it’s 0-0 again.

And I take heart in that.

5 for Friday: Go Ask Daddy About Parental Punishment, Automobile Bits and Van Halen Hits

I’ve never been to a cock fight. Or a dog fight.

But, I’ve seen plenty of youth soccer.

For all the shouting for blood there, though, there usually isn’t a cash payout. Well, there usually isn’t a threat of a police sting to break up the fun, either. But maybe there should be.

I told my team to warm up with my oldest daughter, Elise, while I had a quick parents meeting.

One girl stepped up with a request: “Can you please ask them to stop yelling at us on the field?”

Today’s batch of questions has a bite to it, from growling parents to sharks and piranhas (they’re an obsession in my house) to David Lee Roth.

1. Can parents get carded?

Technically, no – but I’m in favor of placing them in time-out.

The FIFA laws of the game dictate that only players can draw yellow or red cards for misconduct. Not even a coach can get one, although we can be sent off. Not that one ever should, in youth soccer. It’s as if we’ve forgotten why we’re there in the first place: To foster a child’s love for the beautiful game, while teaching them skills and setting an example of how to handle the highs and lows life tosses at us.

Parents who berates an official, their own child, their children’s teammates or the opposition (including players, parents and coaches) clearly are in need of a hobby.

The American Youth Soccer Organization holds Silent Saturdays every year. It’s a game day devoid of cheering from the parents’ sideline, and coaching the other. It’s not easy. I don’t yell much, but I do like to encourage and remind players of their positions. Not on Silent Saturday, though. I’m all for it.

2. Will a piranha jump out of the water to eat something?

If he did, would he get a red card?

According to a story on komonews.com, a fisherman in Arlington, Wash., late this summer caught a pacu, a relative of the piranha, at Lake Ki. The pacu, a herbivore with dagger teeth, jumps out of the water to – get this – break.nuts. Are you kidding me? A vicious, sharp-toothed fish, who eats nuts?

That’s … nuts.

That’s like LeBron James settling for layups. Or, the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez, bunting every at bat. Or, Jennifer Lawrence, wearing a moomoo.

It just ain’t nat’rul.

3. Brakes have shoes?

Yep. And that’s not all.

  • Cars have hoods
  • Tables have legs
  • Potatoes have eyes
  • Planes have noses
  • Combs have teeth
  • Bottles have necks
  • Downtowns have hearts
  • Cyprus trees have knees
  • Christmas trees have skirts
  • And some sidelines have rear ends

Brake shoes are a component of the brake lining in cars that use drum brakes. So, brakes also have drums, in fact. The brake lining is glued or riveted to the shoe, which presses it against the inside of the drum when you, as they say in the south, mash the brakes in your car.

Or, you can do like this guy.

4. How many teeth does a shark have?

Bet you didn’t think this one would come down to math, but according to sharkwatchsa.com, it’s elementary, my dear Grace:

Rate of tooth loss X average life span of the shark = how many teeth in a lifetime

At last (and very fast) count, a great white sports about 24 visible teeth. Behind those are about five rows of developing teeth, ready to spring forth should Sharky McSharkbreath lose one or two on his next seal attack.

Either way, you’re going to take a considerable chomp.

Like, worse than a pacu on a cashew.

5. What songs does Van Halen sing?

I’m a right-leaning, heterosexual carnivore, so this applies to the David Lee Roth era only. Sammy Hagar, who took over as Van Halen’s lead man in 1985, was cool, but Van Halen without David Lee Roth is like LeBron James taking layups. Or Jennifer Lawrence in a dodgers jersey.

Just ain’t nat’rul.

Van Halen’s songs, including Jump, You Really Got Me and Runnin With the Devil (which, fittingly, played on the radio just before Marie’s cross-country debut) are among the hits of their heyday, roughly the mid 70s to mid 80s, most often played today.

I’ll leave you with a video of the most memorable song from my youth, mainly because I was 13 years old. This song (and video) left me with more questions than answers about the world.

And if that ain’t a bite in the nuts from a pacu, I don’t know what is.

It’s Fall, Y’all, but it’s Different for a Dude

It’s fall, y’all.

I see my blogging sisteren (the female answer to brethren) writing about fall. Pumpkin latte recipes. (Well, anything involving pumpkin. And spice). Knitting projects. Photos of kids frolicking in leaves.

Cute boots and sweaters.

Ladies-only blog hops, pumpkin patches, autumnal decorations. Posts lamenting the end of summer. Poetry. Did I mention recipes? Mom and craft and DYI bloggers blog and craft and share all this stuff.

Then they say things like “love this!”, and pin it.

Continue reading “It’s Fall, Y’all, but it’s Different for a Dude”

5 for Friday: Go Ask Daddy About Stadium Screens, Two Miamis and Gangsta Rappers

The JumboTron has spoiled us a bit.

I took my U11 girls soccer team – the Dynamite – to a game at Hickory Ridge High. Some kids weren’t watching when Northwest Cabarrus scored one if its goals – a pretty nice shot, actually.

Those who missed it instinctively looked toward the end zone, hoping to catch the replay on JumboTron. Not in Harrisburg, N.C., you won’t.

It made me think of Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, a favorite of my girls. As he sprinted to a 70-plus yard score during Super Bowl XLIII, he glanced wide-eyed at the JumboTron at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, just to see who was around him.

Funny, he could check on the widening gap between him and all Pittsburgh Steelers defenders, yet officials couldn’t look at it to see Santonio Holmes’ alleged winning touchdown actually shouldn’t have counted.

One foot in, incomplete pass.

We’re not bitter, though. As Ice Cube once said, “The worst thing you can do about a situation is nothing.”

So, we’ll keep complaining.

Here’s what the girls have asked lately.

1. Are those just big TV screens?

Yes. It’s the ultimate big-screen TV. God bless America.

Sony created this technology so that Larry can check where Troy Polamalu is, but also so we can see close-ups of Ellie Goulding or Ke$ha or The Kinks in concert. JumboTron is Sony’s registered trademark, but, like Kleenex is for tissues and Tampax is for … well, like Kleenex is for tissues, it’s the accepted lexicon for any big-ass TV screen in any big-ass stadium.

Except at Hickory Ridge High in Harrisburg. There, you have to pay attention the first time something cool happens.

2. Does the guy who does Ferb’s voice do two people’s?

No. Thomas Sangster voices Ferb, the green-haired brother on Phineas and Ferb, and only Ferb. It’s also not true that the premise – two step-brothers who embark on epic science projects to the chagrin of older sister Candace – was conceived from the diaries of a delusional real-life big sister who committed suicide, as one of your sisters might have gleaned from Facebook or some such.

Although, Grace and Marie, I think you make Elise delusional at times. Or should I blame my most-hated Disney Channel show going, Austin and Ally?

I’d rather watch the Steelers win a Super Bowl with a lousy official’s call than a single episode of that stinker on a JumboTron.

3. Why do they put Fla. after Miami in the college football scores?

So that boosters’ illegal payments to football players will go to the right place – South Beach, not Southwest Ohio.

Miami is in Oxford, Ohio. It’s in the Mid-American Conference, and the RedHawks won’t soon be confused with The U. – the University of Miami Hurricanes. Miami of Ohio might not have any football titles to its name, but it’s more than 100 years older than Miami of Florida. And they have really cool new helmets.

Heck, Florida still belonged to Spain when Miami of Ohio welcomed its first students. And Ferb was just a glimmer in his papa’s eye.

4. Can a woman who isn’t married get pregnant?

No. NEVER.

I mean, yes. She can. So, be careful.

NO!

For the love of Shawn Kemp, Octomom and baby mamas everywhere.

This one’s tough.

There are 17,000 former professional athletes who wish they couldn’t. And twice as many high school boys who couldn’t be bothered to stop by the Circle K for some provisions before landing at a girl’s house between the last school bell and mama coming home from her bank job.

What, you couldn’t just watch Phineas and Ferb, son?

OK. Yes, she can get pregnant. But my hope is she won’t, until she’s married.

5. What is Ice Cube’s real name?

Jennifer Lawrence. Oh, wrong question!

Ice Cube, the hip-hop record producer/actor/screenwriter/film producer/director and keeper of cold Coor’s cans, was born O’Shea Jackson. He’s clearly too cool to go around being called two last names – the first of which is Irish, for Pete’s sake – while pioneering the fine art of gansta rap.

Seriously, what MC could go by Fresh Dog O’Shea?

I entered O’Shea Jackson into the rap-name generator at myrapname.com and came up with Methodical O’Shea J Force.

Not as cool as Ice Cube, no.

Also not as cool as Harsh Dollar Eli P Spin, a.k.a. Lethal Flash, which is what it generated for “Eli P.”

Only you don’t want to see Lethal Flash’s mug on a JumboTron, do you?