Dinner Party Conversations

This past Saturday, my husband and I waded into waters that we thought had long since dried up for us.  Since having kids, there’s been a bit of a drought of sorts with our entertaining schedule and our ability to have adult conversations with others.  A couple of weeks ago, we decided we would host a small, intimate dinner party at our house.  We planned it for 7:30, so that our boys could meet some of our adult friends, but they would then go to bed at 8:00, thereby leaving my husband and I with the opportunity to discuss things other than the color of snot, the size of poops, the dribble drabble of baby talk, and the words that spring forward from our kids’ mouths.

Last week, with each approaching day, I became more and more giddy at the thought of seeing some of our old friends, but I also became nervous.   Why was I nervous?  Because I feared that I may be incapable of contributing to the conversations if they didn’t swirl around my children’s bathroom habits or their pickiness with food, or that they are learning so much.   Once upon a time, I was able to have intellectual conversations about politics, the woes of society, even the Theory of Evolution.  Ok, so perhaps I exaggerate about discussing the Theory of Evolution.  My point is that I used to have good, stimulating conversations.   Would I be able to do that again?

Saturday arrived and honesty I began to wonder about what I would talk about with these people.  One couple has children, but they’re in high school.  The other two couples don’t have kids so highly unlikely they’d want to hear my anecdote of how Henry tightrope walked down the bannisters and then doing a triple somersault, landed on his feet and began reciting the periodic table of elements.  Ha!  My kid’s not that good!

Would I be able to add to a conversation?   Would my input be taken like it used to be, as one spoken by a well read female with a Master’s Degree?   Would I sit there and smile, staring at the speaker like a deer caught in the headlights?   Maybe I should be a good hostess and just shuffle around, refilling drinks and passing our hors d’ouevres?  That last thought continued to swirl through my brain when I was stumped by a question from one of my girlfriends.   Oh, these children!  That was my first thought.  Why, oh why, must you suck out any brain cells I have left?

Thankfully for me, the conversations were light, our friends’ anecdotes were hilarious, and I was able to have a conversation outside of poop, puke, boogers, and “woe is me” sighs.   I found out on Saturday night how wonderful adult dinners with friends who either don’t have kids or whose kids are much older, can be.  Please don’t get me wrong.  I love our friends with kids.  I really do.   I still need that adult interaction where we do compare war stories from the battlefields of mommyhood.  My boys still need the kids of those friends as their own friends.  I still need and value my mommy friends with kids, but sometimes it’s just nice to occasionally step out of that world.   And for me, to know that I can do that and still walk back down Mommyhood Lane, really makes me feel fortunate.

It’s taken me a while to get to this point in life.   When I first left work and became a stay at home mom, my entire world revolved around Davey.  I never made time for myself, my husband, or for us as a couple.  I didn’t think it was possible to balance it all and if I tried to, I felt guilty for selfishly wanting time other than that as “mommy”.   It’s a great feeling to know that I can balance it all, that I can have the best of all worlds, and that I do still have the ability for “dinner party conversations”.

Rock The Boat

It took becoming a stay at home for me to become a somewhat decent cook.   I never really liked doing it and truthfully, my husband is way better at it than I am.   Because he works and supports us financially, allowing me the opportunity to be home with the boys, I have taken on domestic roles that I once thumbed my nose at.

These days; however, it’s become a lot more enjoyable to cook since I have the world’s cutest sous chef.   He’s eager to help, he learns measurements, and he even cleans up after himself.   How wonderful I have it.

Sous Chef Davey ready for his time in front of the camera.
Sous Chef Davey ready for his time in front of the camera.

Yesterday I posted a few pictures on my Facebook page showing Sous Chef Davey and I preparing dinner.  I promised a blog post later, but with everything else in life these days, my children called and I completely forgot that I didn’t post this.  So, here you go!

I had decided to plan ahead since my initial intent was to spend the afternoon at the pool.  I didn’t think I would have time to cook dinner and I knew I would also be tired.  Something about chasing around an almost 20 month old in the hot sun is quite tiring.  Once I put Henry down for his nap, Davey and I got underway prepping our zucchini boats.

I originally saw a recipe for this on the Today Show last week.  I think it was for zucchini pizza boats.  Since I didn’t have any pepperoni, I decided to just make a stuffed zucchini boat instead.   It was pretty simple actually.  I used three medium sized zucchinis, cleaned them, cut off the stem, and sliced them in half long ways.  I made sure to slice them in a way that would allow for them to sit flat (or as flat as possible).   After that, I cleaned out the zucchini of their “innards”, as Davey calls them.  Not sure where he’s heard that.  Davey was a most excellent helper as he dumped the “innards” into a bowl, to save for use in the stuffing.  Waste not, want not!

Once they were thoroughly hulled, I gave Davey the responsibility of oiling the boats.  He brushed extra virgin olive oil on the insides of all the zucchini and then placed them inside the baking dish.

Oiling the boats
Oiling the boats

Next we went to make the stuffing which included half of an onion, chopped, fresh roma tomatoes from our garden, mushrooms, and the pureed zucchini left overs.  I sautéed the onions and mushrooms first, then added in the tomatoes and zucchini.   Davey helped season the veggies with salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, and basil.  Oregano and basil were fresh from our garden as well.

Cooking and seasoning the veggies.
Cooking and seasoning the veggies.

When we had those good and cooking, I lowered the temperature and then covered the pan.   We went to another pan, where we decided to brown some ground turkey.   I’m sure some of you worry about me letting my almost four year old near the stove, but we’ve taught him what’s hot and what he shouldn’t touch.  He’s extremely cognizant of his surroundings and what’s going on.

Cooking the meat.
Cooking the meat.

After the meat was cooked, we let it cool for a few minutes before Davey scooped meat into all of the boats, then covered them with the veggies.   I put a piece of aluminum foil onto the baking dish and slid it into the fridge.

Spooning in the stuffing.
Spooning in the stuffing.

As I explained to Davey, every great sous chef understands the importance of a clean and organized kitchen.  So with his apron still on, he set about to clean up our mess and put everything back in their places.

Cleaning up.
Cleaning up.

When it was time to start preparing dinner, I preheated the oven to 350, covered the tops of the boats with shredded mozzarella cheese, and cooked them for 30 minutes.  I followed that with a brief 5 minutes under the broiler, to brown and crisp up the cheese and dinner was served.

The finished product.
The finished product.

The only downside to this was that Davey would help make the dinner, but he refused to eat any part of it, as did Henry.   So I used the leftover sauce and meat to put on top of a plate of penne pasta for the boys.  Sigh.  I suppose you don’t have to enjoy the food to cook it?   I told Davey if he keeps this up, he may become our next Food Network star, a dream that was once his daddy’s.

Allowing My Love to Permeate

We had a wonderful lesson in Sunday School today.  It resonated not only with me, but with the other members in my class.   My husband and I had nursery duty today, so we were unable to attend our Pastor’s sermon, but my understanding is that it followed along with our lesson.   The lesson was about returning to your first love…Jesus Christ.   As Christians, we are taught to always return to a love for Christ that permeates everything we do.   At times, we find ourselves straying.  Perhaps, day-to-day life gets in the way.   Other times, we get settled into our routines and sometimes those routines are not allowing room for Jesus.   I’m definitely guilty of this.

Once upon a time, when I would get frustrated with my boys or life, I would retreat to a chair in another room, whip out my Bible and start reading.   Davey used to say to me, “Mommy, do you need Jesus?” when I would start counting to 10 in order to calm myself down before berating him or his brother for flushing legos down the toilet.   These days I’m afraid that I’ve allowed my relationship with God to start sliding.   One thing I was most proud of was that my boys would see me taking time to read the Bible.  They would see me in quiet prayer or reflection with God.  I hang my head low now as I admit that they haven’t seen that in a while.

So, tonight I made sure to carve out some time, any time I could to read a Bible study and a couple of passages in the Bible.  It’s funny how God always know when you need Him most.  He knows that today is the best day to start back over with me.   He forgives me for my laziness and my sinful nature.  He loves me and He encourages me and today’s Bible study reminded me of that.

It starts with the commandment to Honor Thy Mother and Father and takes me into Ephesians, Chapter 6, verses 1-4.  I want to take this time to share verse 4 with you, more specifically my fellow parents out there who find themselves overwhelmed.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord.”  Ephesians 6:4

I reflected on this passage for quite some time and I’ve looked back over the past few weeks as Henry has become more strong-willed and Davey more head strong.   I’ve started developing a lot of gray hair (my stylists calls it glitter) thanks to these two and I feel that lately I’ve been quick to anger and raise my voice.  This isn’t the way the Lord wants me to discipline my children.  I know this, but I haven’t exactly heeded His words or commands.  I haven’t been allowing God’s Love to permeate and I definitely don’t think I’ve been allowing my love to permeate as well.

Being a parent is a hard job.  It’s the toughest, most stressful, and yet most rewarding job you’ll ever have.   If you mess up with your kids, then there’s not really a do-over.   You can’t take a “pay cut” or find another job.   This is it.   But when you get it right, man does it feel like you’ve hit a grand slam in your final ever at bat.

I’ve allowed too many other things to “interfere” with my life and my boys’ lives.   My backsliding from God has hurt us all, but I want to remember what it was like when I first became a Christian and committed my life to God.  I felt relieved.  I was happy.   My stress level plummeted and I felt like for the first time ever things were going right in my life.   It’s time to get that back again and to start letting that permeate through to my boys.

I encourage you all to take that closer look.   To ask yourself how it felt being a Christian for the first time.   Find a way to let the love permeate.

You Wanna Day at the Water Park, You Say? Well, It’s Going to Cost Ya!

Who remembers the days of going to the pool, waterpark, lake, or beach and all you needed was a towel, your sunscreen, and a good book?  Hey, I remember those days.  They’re not so far gone that my boys haven’t completely obliterated the memory and feeling of being solo.   I can still see those days, they’re hazy, but not so distant.  Sometimes I think I can reach out to touch them, but when I do they’re completely wiped away.

These days I have a love/hate relationship with the pool and the waterpark and even the beach.   Our first summer at the beach as a family, Davey was just 9 months old.  I can remember my husband asking me to bring his book down to the beach so he could relax and read.  I laughed at him hysterically.  I mean I literally laughed at him like I was some crazy haired, wild eyed, nut case who should be locked up in an insane asylum, straight jacket and all.  Sorry, sweetheart, there’s no relaxing with a kid in tow.

Last week, the boys and I spent two days on the water.  The first was at Otter Creek waterpark here in North Greenville.  We went on a Thursday afternoon which I had hoped would mean it was less crowded, but it’s summer…it’s ALWAYS going to be crowded.   Kids these days are privileged during the summer, with camps and programs, and accredited day care.  My brother and I had some old lady who watched us in her house.  The closest thing we got to a water park, was a blue piece of tarp, with a hose and running water on it.  We actually used an actual tire to slide down the hill in Mrs. Powell’s back yard.  Ah, memories.

waterpark

Kids frown on you if you offer up something like that now.  Well older kids, who are raised by my generation (Generation X) do.  They have a sense of entitlement and a need to deserve nothing less than the best.  Someone needs to slap those kids silly or maybe their parents.  Of course, I’m one of those parents as I took my kids to a waterpark.

My original intent had been to go for the day, but I seemed to underestimate the physical cost to my body.   I forgot that Henry must run free, he can’t be contained, and he doesn’t meet a stranger.  I actually helicoptered over him, but let Davey have a bit more freedom.   We ended up spending just three hours there.  My plantar fasciitis started kicking in (or that’s what I told myself and my kids), but really it was getting close to closing time.

waterpark 4

But here’s the thing, for those three hours that we spent at the water park, it took me an hour to get everything, including the boys, ready.  So the opportunity cost of going to the water park really meant less time of playing in said water park, as opposed to just sticking the kids out in the back yard with a good ole fashioned hose pipe, a blue tarp, and a kiddie pool.  My boys are pretty smart and creative.   I’m sure we could have had the water pouring down the slide at their club house and into the huge kiddie pool.   That’s like having your own personal water park in the backyard!  Why didn’t I think of that before?  Because my kids have sucked me of all brain cells.

waterpark 3

All joking aside, these three hours at the water park, only cost me $11.  That was my cost to enter.  Thankfully, Henry is still free and I had a coupon for Davey.  Outside food and drinks are discouraged, but since they don’t inspect bags I was able to “movie theater” it and bring in my own drinks and snacks so as to not have my wallet assaulted by the concessions.

waterpark 2

My boys enjoyed themselves.  Henry suffered a few battle scars from running and falling and Davey proved to me that he’s capable of diving and can indeed swim without a life jacket.  The other perk?  They both went to bed early and slept like babies.

Just Another Day of Kiddie Conversations.

I am always amazed at a child’s imagination.   There are times when I’d love to be able to shrink myself and travel through the neurons and synapses of my boys’ brains.  I can imagine the sparks and flights of information travelling through the synapses to the various different compartments.   I often wonder if my brain ever held their levels of ingenuity, and if it did, has the daily drudge of grown up life completely snuffed out the existence of any of those sparks.

Henry is becoming a lot more vocal and his vocabulary continues to expand.   I’m still bombarded with the continuous dribble drabble of toddler speak, but for the most part he know what he wants to say and usually says it.

Davey is well past the standard vernacular of toddler speech.  I am amazed at how well he speaks and the inflection and tone with which he says things.   He is very good at enunciating his words.   Of course, having a mom with at least two degrees, one in English and another in Speech and Communication Studies and Political Science, only serves to either help him or frustrate him as I constantly correct his grammar and tell him how best to diagram a sentence and conjugate a verb.

***side note*** I don’t think my Political Science degree with have any influence on his learning.  And my Master’s in Business Administration may serve us when the boys become older.  Who knows?

Today; however, isn’t so much about how either boy is communicating, but more so about what they have to say.  I find myself chuckling at times, shaking my head at the absurdity of what I’ve just heard and the all out amazement with the things they develop.

Davey enjoys sitting in his room, perched upon his bed with books abounding fruitfully as if they seem to magically spring up from the never reaches of his mattress.   He, of course, “reads” each one and then turns to his pirate ship and reenacts what he’s just “read”.

As I sit here writing this, today’s conversation seems to have flashed forward a few months to Christmas.   Davey grabs my calculator and informs me it’s his mini computer with which he can text.   This is our conversation:

“Mommy, I need to text Santa on my computer.”

“Santa?  Why are you texting Santa?”

“I need to see if he was ok in daddy’s truck.”

“Why was he in daddy’s truck?”

He becomes exasperated and rolls his eyes at me as if he can’t seem to understand why I would ask such an asinine question before responding with this, “Because that’s how he gets to work, Mommy.  Daddy takes him in his truck.”   And then he walks off upstairs shaking his head at my apparent stupidity on the subject of how Santa gets to work.

Earlier, when I woke him up, he told his three good monsters who are strategically placed within his room every night before he goes to bed, that they were off work and could go home to their monster families. Interestingly, these monsters are the same every night, but they have different names, names I can’t speak, not because I would be banished for saying their names, but because I don’t speak “Davey” and can’t say the names.   These three good monsters are in his room every night to protect him from the bad monsters and they even made it on the plane to NY a few weeks ago!

I’m impressed with his creativity, his attention to detail and I’m actually a bit jealous of it.   As many of you know, I’ve begun writing some books.   I have a few short stories under my belt, but the illustrious novel I want to write seems to elude me.  I hit a constant creativity obstacle.  My child, on the other hand, seems to exude my much needed spark.   Once again, what I wouldn’t give to travel into his brain and see how it works.

We still have quite a few hours left in the day, so I’m sure our conversations will continue to grow and continue to astound and even stupefy me.   Maybe he sucked out all of my creative writing skills when he was still within my womb.  I don’t know if I really want to believe that, because it could mean my days of writing are over.

Just Keep Running, Just Keep Running

I say this not only to myself, but also to Davey, and I do it in my best Dory voice.  You know?  From Finding Nemo.

I’m a runner.  Not as much as I used to be, but I still do it.  The older I’ve become, the more my body likes to remind me of that age.  My hips crack and pop, my knees occasionally groan and lately I’ve begun to suffer from a thing called plantar fasciitis, a lovely little heel pain I was graced with while training for a half marathon last year.

I run because I like it.  I run because it keeps me from getting too fat.  I run because I want to be able to have energy and stay in shape so I can get out in the back yard with my boys.

My parents weren’t exactly active when I was a kid.  They were active in the sense of, there’s yard work to be done, grass to be mowed, a garden to be tended and toilets to be scrubbed.  I suppose that you can burn calories that way thereby preventing a gross exaggeration of your beltline, but my parents didn’t exercise.   Occasionally, my dad would get out in the front yard with us and play baseball.   And by “play”, I mean he would pitch, but for every ball we hit, WE (my brother and I) had to go get it.

I remember our neighbors two houses down used to run together in the evenings.  The four of them would come home, change into their running clothes, and hit the pavement before dinner.   I thought that was the coolest thing, but I wasn’t a seasoned runner back then, and of course neither were my parents.   Back then, I thought you just went all out and began running.  Not so, I’ve learned as I’ve become older.

In the spirit of the fact that most schools seem to be doing away with PE classes, I’ve decided to find ways to keep my boys active.   Davey has played soccer the past two seasons and will play it again this fall.  He just started up t ball, as you all saw in a couple of posts ago.   Henry hasn’t quite made it to those stages yet which is a bummer for me.  Davey; however, has the energy of the Energizer Bunny which I adore and I would love to find a way to keep him as active as possible, so I decided to let him run his first ever race this past Friday.  In hindsight, perhaps last Friday wasn’t the best day to let him attempt to follow in my footsteps.

I registered my husband and me for a 5k.   They’re usually pretty easy peasy for me, since I run a minimum of 4 miles and bike upwards to 20 miles (you can’t really tell that by the looks of my body).   Being a born and raised Southern girl, one would think my body is already conditioned to the blistering heat and smothering humidity.  Not so.  Friday night’s race was run in 95 degree weather at 6:30, when the humidity had the opportunity to find its resting place and just perch.   I was miserable and for once I didn’t care what my time was.   I just wanted to not die, so I could only imagine how my son and husband were faring, seeing as how my husband doesn’t run.  Well, it started a little something like this.

We all started at the back of the pack, but I quickly worked my way through the crowd and left my boys behind me.  I ran the course, finished it and then turned around to find my boys.   Aunt Erin was pushing Henry in his stroller and had set a pretty good pace, so she finished it ahead of Dave and Davey.   When I finally came across the two of them, Davey was atop his daddy’s shoulders, his face flushed and his hair sopping wet.  My husband, not to be outdone by Davey’s waterfall of sweat, was just as drenched if not more so.   I asked how they did and my husband informed me of Davey’s “all out” mentality.

Davey started the race at full speed ahead, running as fast as he could go, at times making it a bit difficult for my husband to keep up with him.  He made it a quarter of a mile before deciding he needed his water, which Aunt Erin had in the stroller.  Instead of waiting for her to catch up, he ran back to her.   There’s a full half a mile in the books.

Once he felt sufficiently hydrated, he began running again, treating the race as if it were a 50 yard dash.  Needless to say, he pretty much hit a wall by the time he reached the halfway point of the 3 mile race.   He finally just sat down on the side of the road and in one of his best Emmy performances to date, flailed his arms and sighed, following it with an “I just can’t go any further” statement.  That’s when my husband decided to carry him.

I’m proud of Davey.  He’s not even 4 yet and he participated in a 5k, on possibly one of the hottest days on record.   He didn’t run the entire race, but he did a lot more than the majority of Americans can do.  Fortunately for me, this one little event hasn’t turned him off of racing.   I have him signed up for a 1 mile kids race in October, in the morning, when the climate will be much more conducive to running.

I asked him how he felt afterwards and he said, “tired, but I did like Dory does, mommy, but I didn’t keep swimming.   I kept running.”   Good job, Davey!

We all finished!
We all finished!

Peaceful, Easy Feeling

I’m not getting that vibe right now.  Nope.  Not as I sit here and complete paperwork for my youngest to participate in a Mother’s Morning Out program.

Davey started at First Presbyterian Academy’s MMO program two years ago.  I was nearly 6 months pregnant with Henry and truthfully I enrolled Davey just so I could have a little bit of peace, even if only one day a week.   I wanted him to get set into that routine before Henry arrived, so that he would have at least ONE thing that wasn’t disrupted by the arrival of a new baby.

Being pregnant, I wasn’t able to participate as much in any sort of volunteer opportunities.  Truthfully, I didn’t want to get involved for one reason, but I used my pregnancy and the birth of Henry as an excuse.   My one reason…I’m not comfortable meeting new people.  I think I’m a bit socially awkward.   I’m not good at idle chit chat, and I don’t have a witty sense of humor, well not initially.   That wittiness usually arrives hours later after I’ve dwelled upon my uncomfortable encounter and replayed different scenarios and end results in my head.

After MMO was over for Davey, I enrolled him in K2 at the Academy last year.  Once again I didn’t volunteer for anything.  I did things on my own, secretly berating myself for being so insecure, thereby making my child suffer the repercussions of having an unwieldy mom amongst societal peers.   I did participate in the occasional classroom party, but I felt like an outcast.  In hindsight, I should have introduced myself to the other parents, but I didn’t.   After said parties, I usually came home feeling dejected, less than mom like, and a complete failure.   My poor husband not only had to deal with craziness at work, but also craziness at home.  This year, that’s going to change.

Right now I’m looking at a volunteer sheet for Henry’s MMO program.  I studied it for a moment and perused the options I had before finally deciding that I’ll volunteer to be Room Mom.  Yep!  That’s right.  I’m going to possibly coordinate Teacher Appreciation, Christmas gifts, and other little parties.   Of course, there’s a possibility that a more Pinterest friendly mom may win the position, but I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone and I’m volunteering.

I don’t have that peaceful, easy feeling.  No sir, but I’m going to do it anyways.   Stay tuned, for if I should get this position then I’m sure craziness will abound along with a few complaint from me, the occasional whine and frustration, and the desire to end my day with a little brown liquor.

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

We just started a new adventure with Davey…t-ball!

From the start, my husband and I decided that we would encourage our boys to participate in everything extracurricular.   This doesn’t mean they must choose one thing, nor does it mean that we’ll push our dreams or visions onto either one of them.  We just want both of them to have the opportunities to explore, to play, and to learn the value of teamwork.

Stretching before practice.
Stretching before practice.

Up to this point, Davey’s only foray into the sports world has been soccer.   He’s played 2 seasons of it and is already registered for a 3rd season.   He’s not much of a player on offense, but he’s definitely learned his role as a goalie.   I was amazed at his persistence and resiliency last season as he blocked goal after goal after goal.

As with anything we endeavor in with our boys, my husband and I have learned to not have any expectations, at least not now.   Henry has yet to have the opportunity to play in sports, but Davey is still young and learning.   I may have once harbored some dream somewhere of having an all star athlete in Davey, but reality set in and I just want him to have fun and to have the opportunity to decide what he wants to do.

practicing his run around the bases.
practicing his run around the bases.

So, with two seasons of soccer under our belt, I decided to enroll Davey in his first season of t-ball.   We’ve practiced with him in the backyard, determined that he may be a switch hitter, and have encouraged him to participate.   He’s still learning how best to catch a ball and who he should throw it to when catching it.   Our expectations; however, are extremely low.

waiting on a ball to be hit his way.
waiting on a ball to be hit his way.

Tuesday we kicked off his t-ball season with his first practice.   He was adamant about wearing his cleats, the same ones he wears for soccer, and needing a baseball cap.  I tried to encourage his NY Yankees cap, but he kept deferring to his Buffalo Bills cap.   To each his own.

We had a nice little discussion of the need for him to NOT run around on the field, to listen to his coach, and to play nicely with the other boys on his team.  We’ve had this same discussion before each soccer practice and game, but it’s never sunk in.   This time something seemed to click.

ready for another opportunity to catch the ball.
ready for another opportunity to catch the ball.

I watched as my boy listened intently to his coach, stretched before practice, ran the bases, and learned how best to catch the ball.   I kept my mouth shut for once, not wanting to interfere or distract him.   I hung back and clicked away with my camera and watched in awe at how my once little boy now looked like a big boy ball player.

He went into the outfield and tipped his cap up to wipe his forehead before pulling it back down using the bill of the cap.  He then slid his glove on his left hand, balled up his right fist and punched into the palm of the glove, insuring that it was indeed fitting and in place.   Then he leaned over, knees slightly bent, and held out his glove, ready to catch (or attempt to catch) any ball that headed his way.   Boy, did he look like a real ball player.

the ball that rolled between his legs.  he'll get it.
the ball that rolled between his legs. he’ll get it.

I watched as the kids hit the balls off the tee, with some balls heading in Davey’s direction.  He hustled to grab a couple of them, but at other times seemed content to just stand his ground and allow for others to get the ball.  One ball rolled between his legs as he tried to snatch it up, but he immediately turned around and hightailed after it.

Finally, it was his turn to be up to bat.  For a couple of moments, there was a bit of uncertainty as I explained to his coach that we are unsure as to whether Davey is a lefty or not.   Once we decided on letting him hit left handed, he took his first swing, missing the ball by a couple of inches.   The next swing he hit the tee, but by the third swing he had a good solid base hit.

first time at bat.
first time at bat.

After hitting the ball, he stood there for a moment unsure of what to do next until his coach nudged him along to 1st base.   I watched with pride as my boy, both hands placed firmly atop his helmet to keep it in place, ran as fast as he could to 1st base.   With the next hitter, he had the opportunity to advance to second and again I chuckled as he held tightly to his helmet and tagged second.

second time at bat
second time at bat

My husband didn’t get the opportunity to watch Davey practice, but I took a bunch of pictures.  Last night, Dave and I sat down and looked at the pictures as I explained how well Davey did.

third time's the charm.
third time’s the charm.

“He looks sharp, doesn’t he?” my husband asked.   I saw the smile beaming across his face and could feel the pride swelling up inside of him.   My husband is a HUGE baseball fan and he’d sure be happy to have one or both of his boys playing baseball.   Soccer hasn’t really done anything for my husband.  It’s not a sport he played, nor is it one he followed.   Baseball is American’s past time.   It’s a good Saturday afternoon, eating a hot dog and peanuts, sort of adventure.

running to 1st base.
running to 1st base.

Davey has one more practice next week before starting the regular season.   Don’t worry, I plan to keep you all updated on his games.

Hey, batter, batter, batter, batter.  Swing, batter!

Cruisin’, On A Friday Afternoon

I sat here this morning, perusing through the memories my family and I had made over the past couple of weeks and it hit me that I hadn’t once blogged about our 3 hour tour of the Erie Canal.   Fortunately for us, the weather didn’t get rough and our tiny ship wasn’t tossed.   We did add an almost 4 foot tall crew member mid tour, but we didn’t set ground on an uncharted desert isle.

Friday, July 3rd, we decided to take advantage of my in-laws close proximity to the Erie Canal and the much cooler weather, to go on a cruise and enter one of the many locks along the 300 + mile stretch of water.   No, we didn’t travel the entire 300 odd miles, but our tour was informational, historical, and even eventful.

Our ship
Our ship

Of course, having two young children who are not only adventurous, but also inquisitive, we just HAD to sit at the top of the Colonial Belle, the ship that took us out onto the canal.   We left from Fairport and went under the infamous lift bridge, a one of it’s kind structure built in the early 1900s.   The entire bridge is lifted by 40 horsepower electric motor.   The bridge can reach a clearance level of 16.3 feet depending upon the water levels of the canal.  The sound of the horn, reminiscent of those found in lighthouses and on ships who are coming into harbor during a fog, and the bells that signal to those around that the bridge is lifting was our first excitement, more so for Davey than Henry.

Lift Bridge at Fairport
Lift Bridge at Fairport

Once we made our way under the bridge and watched it lower again, we began the sightseeing.  Along the canal is a paved trail with bicyclists, runners, walkers, and even the occasion fisherman.   I once lumped all New Yorkers into the category of being too fast, too inconsiderate, and too stuck up.   Growing up, I thought a New Yorker was the polar opposite of a Southerner.   Well, that may be the case in some areas of the state, but not in Fairport where people wave at you as you cruise by.   We shared the canal with pontoon boats, kayakers, and those on pedal boats.   Docks jutted in and out of the water, haphazardly spread about, giving me the visualization of a bar graph when seen from the sky.

One of the many flood gates along the canal
One of the many flood gates along the canal

The docks were surrounded by trees, some littered with chairs and tables, lights and swings, and even the occasional hammock.  Couples and friends, families and neighbors were already enjoying pre July Fourth festivities on many of the docks and back porches of the houses.   I like to think that at least one person was enjoying a good ole glass of sweet tea.

The houses ranged from modular homes, to four story mansions and condos and townhomes.   As we cruised by, it felt like our own low country in South Carolina.   I had an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia, of sitting on porch swings under the oak trees with the Ashley River flowing in the distance.   If it weren’t for the low-humidity of the day and the obvious northern accents, I would have thought I was back in Charleston, SC.

It wasn’t just an adventure for me, but also one for Davey.   Henry seemed to be much too young to really understand what was happening.   He just knew that he was, once again, confined into a space where he couldn’t get out.   Dave ended up taking him down below, where doors were bolted and windows were too high for him to climb out of and go overboard.   He had free reign of the lower deck.

starting in Fairport
starting in Fairport

As with any adventure we undertake as a family, there is always the consideration with how long our boys will be able to keep their attention focused.   Davey lasted longer than Henry, but once there was no longer bridges to go under, which by the way we had to actually duck our heads on a few of them, or animals to see in the woods (a LOT of deer), then he quickly became bored as well.   It wasn’t until we made it to Lock 32 when he became enchanted once again.

I’m sure many of you know about locks on a canal.   Some of the well known locks of the world are on the Panama Canal.  I’ve never visited, but would put it on my bucket list.   For those of you who don’t know what a  “lock” is on a canal, let me give you a brief rundown.

There are 35 locks on the Erie Canal that run from the Hudson River to Lake Erie.   The canal rises 566 feet through those locks and in order to get from one section of the canal to the other, one must enter into a lock, which is an enclosed compartment.   You sail into the lock and tie up.   The “lockmaster” (if that is what he is indeed called), then closes two steel doors behind you.   He opens up tunnels that release hundreds of thousands of gallons of water.   It takes approximately 10 minutes for the lock chamber to fill.  Once it is filled, then steel gates open in front of the ship allowing for passage through.

At this point in our adventure, Davey became intrigued once again, although only for a few minutes.  It’s quite dull to wait around 10 minutes for your boat to rise, after all.  The opening and closing of the chamber seemed to numb the pain of sitting through the lock itself.   When we turned around and came back through the lock, we went through the same process as before except this time, tunnels were opened to pump out the water and the wait wasn’t quite so long.   It was immediately after this when the Colonial Belle took on a new shipmate, in the name of Davey Doser.

Davey stated he wanted to thank our captain for doing such an excellent job at navigating us into and out of the locks.   That token of appreciation in the form of a handshake from Davey, led in turn to the opportunity to become captain of the vessel, an exciting feat even if only for 60 seconds out of a child’s life.  At this, he became happy once more and found the need to tell everyone on the boat how he’d been in charge of chartering us back up the canal.  A round of applause ensued, along with pats on the back, and I’m convinced my child may have a future in politics thanks to his outgoing congeniality.

Davey navigating the ship
Davey navigating the ship

Bridges were the most exciting parts of the boat ride, but I’m afraid 3 hours was a bit much for my two boys.

Should you happen to make it to Western New York, take the time to find a cruise along the Erie Canal, especially one that goes through one of the many locks.  For us old people, it was an educational experience.

Go to http://www.eriecanal.org to learn more.