Soccer has taken up a lot of space in our life lately. Between Timbers games, youth Soccer, and my first foray into an adult league there has been rarely a day that has gone by where soccer wasn’t being played. While I love this new obsession I am also glad to see some aspects coming to an end so that our weekends can be spent in a much more lazy manner instead of darting around town for games.
settling disagreements though penalty kicks
I finished my second season as coach for Primo’s team and we had a good year. The kids got better, had fun, and didn’t get hurt. While scores were not officially kept we only lost one game all year. I love being the coach and seeing these kids go from tripping over the ball in warm ups at the beginning of the year to trying to execute complicated spin moves by the end. We had a couple of new players this season but mostly returned the same team from last Fall. They were better players, more comfortable with the ball and with each other and I could see the best of what organized sports brings out in kids. They had self-confidence that they could go from beginner to advanced through repetition and sticking with it. They were aware of their teammates and the feelings of the teams they were playing against and wanted them to have as much fun as they were having.
I am taking a course later this month to get my ‘E’ license for youth soccer. I want to be a better coach that is aware of the stages of development for kids at each level. I want to show them that you never stop learning or trying to get better. Mostly I want to be a good coach that these kids remember like I remember my good coaches.
Another cell phone bill came in the mail and another couple of hundred dollars left my pocket. It is getting old, and expensive, and there has to be another way. Along comes an email asking me if I would like to have a look at the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the cheap wireless plan from Walmart Family Mobile. I like my phone but not my high-priced contract so giving it a look seemed like a no brainer. Who wouldn’t want to check out the best wireless unlimited plans? My only question was whether I could keep up with my apps and around this time of year that means my Fantasy Football team, as bad as they are. How many RB can one guy lose to injury in the first 5 weeks! A quick once around the Family Mobile page and I saw that I pay for the data I needed and used instead of paying things I was not using.
So off I went to the local Walmart to get my phone and my new plan, but the phone I wanted wasn’t in stock, popular model and all, so I was directed to the webpage where I had the phone and the family plan ordered and ready to ship in less than 5 minutes. My phone will be here on Wednesday, plenty of time for me to grab the NFL Fantasy Football App and set my team for the weekend games. I’m looking forward to putting the phone and the family plan through the paces of the season. If I lose, and by if I mean when I lose, I might even have a built-in excuse. I will let you know how it goes but I am already looking forward to cutting my mobile bills down to a more affordable size, a the while getting a quality state of the art phone and data plan. Stay Tuned!
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Last weekend before Primo’s soccer game the boys and I made our way down highway 30 to Scappoose. Along with the normal Saturday market there was also a festival going on. A festival celebrating Sauerkraut! While I am not a fan of Sauerkraut I am a fan of festivals so we wandered around the park and had some fun. First stop was the Cabbage bowling alley where a dollar got you 5 cabbages to knock down 10 pins. Primo had no trouble but it took Segundo some convincing. Once he heard there was candy at the end he was bowling away. Right next to the cabbage bowling was the License to Spill both from Mohawk carpets and since I was being paid to check out that booth I thought it a good time to check it out.
Mohawk is the largest flooring manufactures in the world and they were showing off their Smartstrand carpet. What is special about the Smartstrand carpet is that the stain and soil resistance is built into the fibers of the carpet instead of applied as a chemical afterward. Since we are soon to be remodeling our basement and will be in the market for carpet this was interesting to me but no so much for the boys so we got down to the demonstration. First the boys got a chance to squirt a sample carpet square with bottles of food coloring, soy sauce, and other stain making liquids. They took their job very seriously and made sure that every inch of that sample was soaked.
Once they finished creating the mess they had to clean it up. Armed with only bottles of water they got busy washing out all the stains they had just created. We learned that tougher messes like mustard might require a little dish soap and some light scrubbing but there is no need for carpet cleaners or harsh chemicals. I got to chat with the folks in the booth about my time cleaning carpets just after high school, and how other types of carpets are treated with stain resistance that wears off over the life of the carpets. Smartstrand has the stain resistance built into the fibers making those harsh chemicals unnecessary. Once the boys got their carpet cleaned they wanted to do it all over again, a metaphor on the futility of cleaning if I ever heard one.
Last night, the boys and I braved the evening traffic to see the advanced screening of Monsters University, a prequel to the popular Monsters Inc. We were the first ones into the theater with our popcorn and sodas and quickly got settled in with our 3D glasses, our booster seats and our anticipation. Being early was probably not the best idea with a 5 and a 7-year-old because by the time the screen flickered on, they were both antsy and bored. Once the movie got started though, they were both enthralled by the 3D technology, leaning forward and reaching out for the images that floated in front of them. Once the “Scaring” officially got started in the meat of the movie, both boys were appropriately scared and the youngest climbed into my lap to bury his face in my neck for a particularly roaring section. Overall, the story was great and the characters endearing. I missed the particularly appealing part of the Monsters Inc story line–the part where the children no longer needed to be scared by monsters. In this earlier part of the Monster story, that particular premise is still firmly in place and the resulting focus on kid-scaring makes this movie… scarier. It still has plenty of sweet moments and the development of Mike and Sullie’s friendship is rich and funny. I think a slightly older kid would love this movie.
Above is a cool new game/app/software/educational tool called Pixel Press from creator Robin Rath. Basically you can design your own video game levels and then share those level with others. This is such a cool idea and great way to get kids of all ages into game design in a fun and accessible way. Check out the video above and head to their Kickstarter page and help get this project done. There is only about 2 weeks left to get this funded and it really is a great piece of software to teach kids math, art, engineering, and creative expression in dynamic way.
Sometimes while it’s happening you’re not even aware of it until it is almost over. That somehow by recognizing the moment you are hastening it’s decline. That moment when you realize that children are playing nicely in the living room while you make dinner in the kitchen. There is a fire, and rain on the windows. The hiss and pop of wood and Vinyl as music and warmth fills the air. This very scene played out in our house recently and a long time had passed before I knew we were in sweet spot. Beautiful was well into making dinner and I had been picking up the house while the boys played. There was no fighting over toys or even questions of fastest, strongest, or best. There was a cooperative scene fueled by story instead of competition. The moment dawned on me slowly and I was even slower to mention it to Beautiful because I knew that naming it was the first nail in the coffin. She had noticed it too, some time before and had kept it to her self. We slow danced in the kitchen to the quiet and the hiss and the pop and for a moment fully inhabited that sweet spot. It was magical to be fully aware that we were in the good old days right here in this warm kitchen as the rain tapped on the windows. Soon there was a disagreement over story, and the competition came back and the boys were soon fighting over which toy was the best. We smiled at each other, Beautiful and I, and went back to our cleaning and preparation. While that moment had passed we were happy in the knowledge that we had fully seized, examined, and enjoyed it before it fluttered away. There were more moments to come and we would be on the lookout for them as well, but the fire needed tending and the record flipped.
Here in Portland there are a ton of ways to get kids out and involved in the land around them. Even our Max riding city kids are only a short bike ride away from forests, rivers, and working farms. Zenger Farm is a working urban farm that models, promotes and educates about sustainable food systems, environmental stewardship, community development and access to good food for all. Through out the spring and summer there are Friday work parties where you can get kids into the dirt and learning where their food comes from, how it is produced, and what we can do to help that process. There are other events happening soon that you can check out here, including the opening of their farm stand on June 14th.
The events we are looking forward to are the Summer camps starting June 24th. These week-long themed camps are a great way to get kids some intensive time on the farm having fun while learning. I also think it might be a way for the farm to get some free labor out of the deal but that is all hush-hush.