Sunday, January 24, 2010


The temperature this weekend was high enough to drive us all outside to enjoy the fresh air and the basketball goal that Santa brought last month. Because there is no need to introduce any more competition into our kids' lives due to the sometimes violent and aggressive nature of the loser, and because the kids - and by kids, I mean S - have little concept of taking turns, I had to invent rules for them to shoot hoops.

These rules involved some math.

Each child gets to shoot until he or she makes a basket. If a basket is made within the first three shots, then two shots will be added to those first three. Therefore, if you make a basket on the first try, then you get four more shots. If it's made on the third try, you get two more. If a basket is not made within the first three, we found, then upwards of 248 shots may be made until that rock drops.

I also incorporated a spelling lesson and C quickly learned how to spell HORSE. He was a gracious loser.

I taught the kids how to throw a football this weekend, too. As is typical for the House of Urf!, everyone begins reading early, yet learned to to throw a football well into their grade school years.

And as is typical for JP, I showed him how to hold and throw the football, he threw a perfect, tight spiral, and then ran off to do something else.

C and I spent a while tossing the football back and forth. It took him a few passes, but he was doing really well in no time. It was a good way to spend an afternoon that ended a week in which those first signs of adolescence, of a verbal distance that is the harbinger of coming times, showed itself.

C hasn't been himself lately. Or, rather, he's been who he will be when he fully morphs into a sullen teen. These will be years when I know I'll have to make a special effort to connect with him, to get him to open up to me and tell me if there are problems, fears, hopes or questions.

The backyard on a perfectly balmy January afternoon, I found, was the perfect way to set that play in motion.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Spaced Out

JP has found a wormhole, a break in the space-time continuum, whatever that is.

When the kids come home from school and walk in the door, they file past my office without a word of hello and into the living room. Not a minute later I'm in there with them to say hello, ask how their day was and pester them. JP will inevitably be changed out of his uniform and on the couch with blankets pulled up and the TV on. C will be sitting in a chair, still in his uniform with his backpack at his feet, slackjawed at the antics of Sponge Bob. S stands next to him, still in uniform, backpack still on and staring at the TV.

JP somehow manages to turn on the television from the front porch, change clothes somewhere in the hallway, drop his backpack in a separate room and make himself comfortable on the couch in the blink of an eye.

Unless he's been there all day.

Maybe the JP that files in after school is a future JP. Or a past JP. Or a JP from another dimension . . . it's really just a string theory right now.

(I'm not a science fiction guy.)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

No Snow Day

Is there anything more disheartening than watching three children trudge off down the driveway on their way to school, snow underfoot? Only the sight of their mother, a school teacher, shuffling off to work.

They promised us snow. They promised it since last weekend and they delivered, sort of. In a sick, twisted way we had snow fall last night. Some schools are closed, most are not. Ours are not.

I know people from the north who read this and are laughing that anything at all would be made about, what a friend wrote this morning, having " ... snow like a New Orleans beignet has powdered sugar, if that," but I like that a little snow slows everything down, if not stopping it altogether. The anticipation, planning for snowmen and snowball fights, fires and hot chocolate, can take any adult back to childhood and is the stuff my kids' memories will be made of.

How miserable it must be to live up north, get eight inches of snow, and still be expected to show up everywhere. That's no fun.

Three-year-old GK is home today anyway due to a slight fever yesterday. She has wild plans to eat snow. To hear her tell it, she may eat all of the snow that fell in the city last night. I plan to stay inside and drink coffee.

She also hopes to talk all day long by the sound of it. I don't think she's stopped since waking and she shows no signs of slowing, or quieting, down. It will make work difficult for me today. It will make drinking coffee and watching Dora very easy, however.

Hope you all are staying warm and arrived at your destinations safely this morning. I'm sorry there had to be any destination at all.