Monday, June 7, 2010

Help us name #3

So, when our third son came into the world, we started calling him "the little bruiser," on account of his 9+ pound birth weight and the scowl he wore on his face most of the time. Now he's almost four months old and even though he's still a little bruiser (weighed in at eighteen pounds last week at the doctor) we'd like maybe a different blog name for him. Any suggestions?

Mr. Baseball in action

Before we moved to Texas, Mr. Baseball played t-ball for two years in small-town southeast Ohio where the rules were simple: everyone bats, everyone scores, and everyone wins. Parents came to watch and laugh and smile at their chubby legged kindergartners as they donned Sofa & Mattress Outlet t-shirts and ran around the infield in a gleeful display of pack behavior that sometimes brought the third baseman, the short stop, and the pitcher out into deep right field chasing a grounder hit down the first-base line. What this Kumbaya method lacked in competitive spirit, it more than made up for in congeniality. But you knew then that even if we’d wanted something a little more intense, we would have been out of luck—Kumbaya ball was the only gig in town.

So when we moved to Lubbock we were excited. We knew Lubbock was a Little League town. We’d noticed the well-groomed ball fields dotting the city. We’d heard about the 2007 all-star team that made it all the way to the semifinal round of the Little League World Series, and when we started researching the local Little League, we discovered that Lubbock and the surrounding communities are actually divided into seven different leagues, that more than 3000 boys and girls ages 4 to 14 fill the rosters of hundreds of teams, that the year is divided into summer and fall ball, that some teams are “traveling” teams that raise thousands of dollars to compete in tournaments as far away as Cooperstown, New York.

Mr. Baseball has been dying to play real baseball since he could hold a glove in his hand...and here, with the replica jerseys, well-trained and into-the-game umpires and overly anxious parent/fans and gravely-voiced coaches, he has finally gotten exactly what he has been waiting for. And the nice thing is...despite how competitive the league is, the kids barely notice the score. Mr. Baseball's team won four games out of thirteen or something like that, but after every game his coach gave out a "game ball" to a kid who did something particularly athletic and no one in our stands or on the coaching staff took the games too seriously, so we all had a genuinely good time. Even when the score was pretty lopsided, Mr. Baseball was upbeat. Once after losing by more than 20 points, he hopped in the car and said, "Dad...did you see the scoreboard? We had seven runs!" And he was very excited.

Unfortunately, I was a much better spectator than I was a photographer, and we didn't get many shots of him playing, but the above video should give you somewhat of an idea.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Prairie dog

A few weeks ago, just before heading to bed, I looked out our front window and saw this little prairie dog creeping slowly across our front lawn. He made it to our driveway and then made a b-line for our open garage. I went through our kitchen and watched from the window in our garage door (yeah, we have a small window in the door that separates the kitchen from the garage--weird) as the prairie dog crept through the labyrinth of card board boxes, bicycles, tools, paint cans and other home improvement flotsam. He was not exploring. He knew exactly where he was going, and where he was going was our little laundry area at the back of our garage where we keep, among other things, a 34.5 pound bag of dog food.

prairie dog food, apparently.

Who knows how long this had been going on (we shut our garage door every night, but occasionally I don't latch it shut and sometimes the door stays open an inch or two at the bottom--just high enough for an enterprising young prairie dog to squeeze under.
*Incidentally, does anyone else think that "prairie" has entirely too many vowels in it?
We hadn't noticed his intrusions earlier, I think, because he never had to do much to get the food--never had to tear the bag or anything like that. Because our boys usually feed the dog, a few kibbles of dog food usually end up on the floor of the laundry room every morning and if we don't sweep them up, they apparently become prairie dog food.

So, long story short, the prairie dog ended up behind our clothes dryer, desperately trying to be invisible as I attempted to fish him out with a broom handle. The problem is, thousands of years of prairie life have taught the dog to duck and cover anytime they're in trouble. So rather than run like crazy when he was tapped from behind with a broom handle, he just sat there in the corner, crouching into a tighter and tighter ball. I had to nudge him along with the broom handle, forcing him to reluctantly slide across the floor in the narrow space between the wall and the side of the dryer, yipping nervously all the way.

I ended up pushing him right into a white bucket and then covering it with a piece of wood and taking him out into the yard, where I set him down. I expected him to run off, but he promptly tried to head back into the garage. The wind was blowing, so he maybe couldn't smell me, and if he could hear me, he wasn't showing it, and it was apparent he couldn't see me very well either because I kept trying to cut him off from his escape back into the garage and he almost ran into me several times. finally I chased him across the street, which wasn't much of a chase, because this prairie dog didn't want to run. I expected him to bolt like a squirrel or a cat, but instead he only moved enough to keep just ahead of me. If I'd wanted to grab him or kick him or swoop down with eagle talons and grab him, it would have been easy.

About half way across the street, the little prairie dog got the idea that I was really chasing him and he finally turned on the gas. But he didn't turn on the depth perception, because the poor thing ran head long into the curb on the opposite side of the street, reeled from the impact and took off down the street, disappearing into the darkness of a neighbor's yard.

We haven't seen him since. I hope he found somewhere else to eat.