• Cooperstown Dreams (And Nightmares)

    Sadly, I write this missive from the Cooperstown Dreams Park infirmary where Finn is being treated for dehydration. He’s sleeping well, and this isn’t the first time I’ve posted from a medical facility.

    The Birmingham Blaze has made it to the birthplace of baseball, and we’ve already survived checking into the Cooperstown Dreams Park with 97 other teams, (chaotic lines of traffic, tired travelers; nightmare), the opening ceremony, (captive audience forced to listen to unknown cheesy songs and facts about baseball for three hours before the baseball teams appeared; nightmare), and two baseball games.  We won one and lost one, but counted both as wins.  We lost the second game by only 11 runs and went all six innings, while the team that played them earlier lost 33-0 in three innings.

    All of the players and coaches are staying in barracks within the park, and the families are staying around Cooperstown.  “Around Cooperstown” should be defined broadly in the Glamore’s case, as our “resort” (more about which later) is certainly closer to Canada than Cooperstown.  The “resort’s” website led me to believe that it was located much closer than it is, but that will be a different post altogether.

    This is the first time that all the Blaze families have been forced to hang out together for an extended period of time, and I’m happy to report that so far there have been no fisticuffs.  It’s not all rainbows and butterflies on every team, however, including one from Michigan.  Word is that their coaches are fighting with each other, one parent has told another that her kid sucks at baseball, and a player got thrown out of a game for unsportsmanlike conduct.

    In contrast, the Blaze fans are coming together like Jello. Our appointed Social Chairman has a well-stocked bar at the HoJo, where we report each evening for a nightcap and to rehash the day’s events. Our photographer bravely ventures over to the other team’s stands each game, so that the Blaze is photographed from every possible angle. As a bonus, she then reports on our opponent’s state of mind, and whether they are well-mannered or sending jeers and cusses our way.

    Several Blaze families have high school kids, and they make up the bulk of our cheering section. When we’re not at games, “the big kids” hang out together and play a variety of intricate card games. Drew hovers at the periphery of the group, soaking in the rules like oxygen, so that he’ll be prepared the next time the cards are dealt. His highest goal for the week is to join the card game and prove himself worthy of the club.

    Drew particularly idolizes one boy, a six foot two specimen named Scott. Drew shadows him, laughs hysterically at his jokes, and watches him adoringly as he goes through life in a body three times as big as Drew’s. We’re planning on a rip-roaring game of mini-golf this afternoon, and Drew is determined to be Scott’s partner. If it’s not clear by the end of the week that “the big kids” refers to the actual big kids AND Drew, it won’t be because of lack of effort on Drew’s part.

    Porter, who is completely oblivious to the big kids’ innate coolness, is unknowingly foiling Drew’s plan, and Drew is growing increasingly frustrated with him. Porter acts like an inquisitive nine-year-old, which he is, while it’s obvious to Drew that mature behavior is required to hang with the big kid club. Drew is linked with Porter by blood and twinhood, but he’s resentful that Porter is spoiling his mojo.

    I‘ve received word that this morning’s game was a loss (I spent the last three innings in the infirmary) and that Finn will be needed against the team we play next. That game is in a couple of hours, so his recovery will need to be mental as well as physical, and I’m better than Bill at the former.

    Update: Finn is recovering nicely, so we’re off to prepare for more baseball.

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    One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Where’d This Cooking Blog Come From?

  • Defense Of The Dance

    I’ve about had enough of the bad jokes. Yesterday I told my friend in South Carolina that I was stopping in Greenville on my way to pick up Drew from camp, and that I thought I’d find a Jazzercise class there so I could work out after the butt-numbing ride. She wrote:

    Jazzercise? Are you serious? That is SO 80’s. I thought you were so much cooler than that, but I guess I was wrong. If you can’t find a class I might have an old VHS tape of a class hanging around here, but you’ll have to bring your own leg warmers.

    Ha ha. I’d put my arms up against hers any day. I’ve been Jazzercising for eight years now, and my only complaints are that our current teacher has a fondness for playing “Freeze Frame” and that every teacher feels compelled to bring out “It’s Raining Men” every single time it rains. Other than that, though, we kickbox, dance, run, and generally sweat to cool music– they even added an Amy Winehouse arm routine.

    But you don’t have to take my word for it. The Jazzerladies were on the CBS Early show a few days ago, and I dare you to watch the video of these pulsating legs and locate a single legwarmer.
    YVpFXMC7qeo

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    One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Twin Tales Proved True

  • He Shall Overcome

    When you’re a mother, seeing a child overcome his fear is like winning the Super Bowl of parenting.

    Drew leaves for camp soon, and the first item on the agenda once he arrives is the swim test. The test wigged him out last year, to the point that he almost didn’t want to go to camp this year. We hoped his fear was treatable, and Drew has been taking swimming lessons from Bill’s tri coach. They’ve made an enormous difference, so much so that when Bill floated the idea of the twins participating in last Saturday’s triathlon, Drew chose to handle the swim and the run, while Porter handled the biking leg of the relay. I nearly passed out when Bill informed me of this, and pictured myself escorting sobbing boys back to the minivan shortly after they’d arrived at the race site. It all seemed like a recipe for horror to me.

    Saturday morning both Drew and Porter were having second thoughts about the event, but Finn, ever the scornful older brother, told them to quit freaking out; a 200 yard swim, eight mile bike and two mile run were no biggie, and if they ever hoped to be cool in any sense of the word they better quit their bitching and focus on the race.

    Although there were children participating, the organizers stuck strictly to the rules and didn’t let non-participating parents into the transition area to aid their kids in getting set up. Fortunately for us, Finn was competing on his own and helped Drew and Porter get body-marked, organize their equipment, and locate the tent where relay teams trade their timing chips during transitions.

    Bill had barely a moment to talk strategy with the boys
    strategy
    before it was time for all the swimmers to head to the pool.

    Drew had a little come-apart, but we found a race volunteer to assume the role of mama bear and get him to the pool.
    tothepool

    The scene at the pool was overwhelming. There were almost 300 swimmers lined up around the pool according to number. The boys had high numbers and were near the end of the line.
    pooloverview
    Finn and Drew are actually in this picture under the yellow flag in the foreground, but are impossible to see, as they were dwarfed by most of the other competitors. waittoswim
    Watching and waiting made Drew extremely nervous. Finn had a talk with him and whatever he said, Drew seemed to be okay after that.
    peptalk

    “If you don’t shape up and swim like a man, I’m going to give you a wedgie every day for the rest of your life.”

    In fact, by the time they made it around to the far side of the pool, Drew was ordering the other competitors around, even the burly ones who could have eaten him as an appetizer.
    dwarfed
    “Excuse me sir, but when you get in the pool, please keep to the right in case I need to pass you with my powerful breast/free combo stroke. These toothpick legs contain herculean muscles and I don’t want you to get hurt.”

    Drew didn’t win any style points for his entry into the water
    drewin
    but Bill and I almost cried at this point. We were so relieved to see him get in the water without balking that he could have stopped after three strokes and we’d have considered it a victory.

    But he didn’t. He was slow and steady, and swam 200 yards
    drweswim
    and exited the pool
    drewout
    like he’d done this a thousand times before. There must have been water in my eye– I’m not one to cry at sporting events.

    Up to this point Bill and I had been hanging out on the pool deck watching the boys swim. Now we had to get moving. Bill went to the bottom of the hill to wait for Porter. He planned to bike along with him, as the bike route went along some mighty busy streets. Finn had the experience to negotiate the traffic, but we wanted Porter to be chaperoned.

    My duties were two-fold: to coach the transitions and to take photographs of each child going out and coming in. This required me to run back and forth across the parking lot from the transition area to the road multiple times. It was quite a workout for a lady who doesn’t run unless being chased by someone brandishing a weapon.

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    After the swim Drew entered the transition area, took the chip from his ankle and gave it to Porter, who attached it and headed out on the bike.
    porterbikeout
    Meanwhile, Drew changed for the run.
    drwedressrun

    Eight miles later Porter biked back in
    porterbikein
    and put up his helmet and bike in the transition area and then took off for the relay tent.
    portertrans
    Their transition was all business.
    transitiontent
    And Drew was off on the run.
    dow'soff
    He may be small, but his feet looked ginormous.
    dowrunsout

    Big feet run in our family. I’m 5’4″ but wear a size nine shoe. My mom taught me to say, “They may be big, but they sure do hold me up.”
    dowrunin
    Drew’s big feet held him up well and kept him at a steady pace.

    I tried to take a picture of the boys together at the finish but they made all sorts of dreadful faces unsuitable for publication.

    After the race is over, it’s traditional for triathletes to complain about all the minor aspects of the race that prevented them from having a faster time. Finn was pissed because he’d gotten blocked by a moving van on a busy street and lost at least fifteen seconds. Porter claimed to be suffering from hideous butt cramps that had slowed him down on the bike. His cramps, he said, were due to the fact that his biking shorts are too small, and he announced that he needs a bigger pair with “very cushy padding.”

    Only Drew was silent, and as I looked in the rear view mirror I saw him fondling his medal and smiling to himself. It made me smile, too.
    medal
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    One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Preparing For The Enemy

  • Come As You Are

    All Finn needed to graduate was a bra made of coconuts, a grass skirt, and a coat and tie.

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    The coconut bra, skirt and lei were for the luau party the sixth graders had the night before graduation to celebrate their journey to the junior high. There was a chocolate fountain, a DJ, tropical drinks, and dancing. Finn came home with second prize in the costume contest and sympathy for women all over the world.

    hula

    “I don’t think I could ever wear a bra all day. I mean, this one was only made of fake coconuts, and it was itchy and I felt like I could barely breathe. I bet a real bra would be awful.”

    I assured him that it is, and that bras are another reason (in addition to making eggs) that women should be treated with care and respect.

    Finn’s not the only one who’s been dressing up lately. The duo had their power point book report presentations a couple of weeks ago.

    Porter wore one of the most popular pieces in our dress-up box to give his presentation on the Beatles.

    beatle

    Drew was a wild-haired Albert Einstein, and though my intentions were good I failed to get a picture of him. That’s the danger of having more than one child– your attention gets diverted from one boy’s book report to another boy’s lacerated finger, and the next thing you know you’re running into the auditorium late while your camera sits at home.

    I was forward-thinking enough to have Finn try on his blazer a couple of days ago, and it’s a damn good thing I did. As my mom would have said, we’d have been in “a mell of a hess” if he’d woken up this morning and put on his old blazer, which reached only to his elbows, no matter how much he hunched over. I was forced to make a last minute trip to Burlington Coat Factory and plunk down twenty dollars for the same Liz Claiborne blazer, two sizes larger, but the bargain price made it worth it, especially since it will be handed down twice.

    Graduation itself was nice, though no cause for tears in my book. Finn is ready to leave the junior high behind. His class has adjourned to yet another pool party, where I suspect some lighthearted flirting may take place, but I’ll never hear about that first hand. One of the disadvantages to having all boys is that you must call the girls’ mothers to learn any interesting gossip, because your male won’t volunteer it.

    The duo are busy this afternoon as well. Drew will be visiting a friend’s farm with a number of other third graders, and Porter and Bill are playing in a golf tournament for kids.

    You’d think that would be enough for one family, but I’ve been informed that there’s a short triathlon Saturday morning and the boys are determined to participate. Finn plans on competing individually, while the twins are forming a relay team, with Drew doing the swim, Porter riding the bike, and Drew finishing off with the run. I’ll have to coach the boys through the transition area while Bill waits on the bike course to accompany Porter on the ride, as it goes through a high-traffic area at one point.

    Many of you were kind enough to ask how Bill did in last weekend’s triathlon, and he performed well. He’s been working with a trainer over the past months, and improved in all three areas. He had a goal of some time or other, and beat it by lots of minutes, and looked really hot in a sexy way at the end of the race clad in all his crazy athletic gear.

    By now I’m totally used to the fact that he is no damn fun the night before a race, so his lack of sociability didn’t insult me at all. Of course, the second night I had no illusions that I’d be sleeping in the nude.

    It feels like all I’ve done the past few weeks is concentrate on the males. I’m hoping that once all the sports are finished tomorrow we can concentrate on MAMA. Mama, she wants to prune the hollies and plant some flowers, then sip a gin and tonic when the day is done. Here’s hoping.

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    Two years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Girls, Girls, Girls

    (this post contains a prophecy that has proven to be true!)