Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Championship Play-by-Play

The Little League Coach has posted my story about The Big Game. Click on the link to read about the heart-stopping action and C. Peevie's Big Triple. I can't stop writing that. C. Peevie's triple. C. Peevie's triple. C. Peevie's triple.

And here's the story behind the triple: On vacation, we drove up to Craig's Cruisers in Holland, MI to play. Everyone except grandmom and granddad took at least one turn in the batting cages. They offered slow pitch and fast pitch softball, little league pitching at 40-50 mph, and major league pitching at 70-80 mph.

Uncle G-Man was the only one brave enough to swing in the majors, and he actually popped a few home runs. I made a pretty good showing against little league pitching, and enjoyed it so much I batted twice. Each token triggered 20 or 25 pitches, with no break. By the end of each cycle, I was feeling my age, which is definitely north of 40.

Even though I was feeling the burn, I was still making enough contact to impress the little leaguer in line behind me. He looked to be about 13 or 14. As I exited the cage, he made eye contact and grinned at me. "Nice hitting!" he said. I was so happy that he left off the "grandma."

C. Peevie couldn't get enough of the cages. He must have batted four or five times, facing a hundred or more pitches. I have no doubt that the cages polished his timing, hand-eye coordination, and confidence--and the result was a strategic triple in the championship game. Next season, if I see him struggling at the plate, I will definitely take him out for some batting cage medicine.

The real champ at the batting cages, to my mind, was little M. Peevie. This girl was whacking softballs like a big leaguer, and I am hoping against hope that she decides to sign up for baseball next year. She already has it going on, and I fully intend to live out my fantasies in her.

Poor Mr. Peevie. We were watching her swing away, making contact with almost every pitch, and Mr. Peevie said, with a touch of jealousy, "She's doing better than I did."

"That's OK, honey," I told him. "You have other talents. You're good at scrap-booking."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Distance to Empty

I told you about the Big Game, but I didn't tell you the story about the trip back to South Haven after the big game. It will either make you think to yourself, "Oh, that sounds like something I'd do" or--and this is statistically more probable--it will make you think, "Geez, I'm glad I'm not married to that idiot."

C. Peevie and I hung out at the post-championship pizza party for about half an hour before we headed back out of town for the last day of vacation. It was about nine p.m. Chicago time when we hit the road. The low-gas indicator lit up on the dashboard as I pulled out, but I recklessly thought to myself, "There's no way I'm going to pay Cook County prices for gas when I'll be in Indiana in half an hour."

You know where this is headed, don't you? Uh huh.

I switched the navigator buttons over to the DTE setting. That's "distance to empty," which estimates the number of miles you can drive before you stupidly stall out and curse your stupidity on the side of the stupid highway because you've stupidly run out of stupid gas. I figured I had a handle on it; I was watching the DTE digits carefully. If I get too close to zero, I thought, I'll just pull over and get some expensive gas.

So as I was driving along, the DTE numbers were going down, exactly as logic would predict; but I was getting close to the Skyway, and from there it's only a few miles to the Indiana border. Gary was within smelling distance at this point, so I was confident that I'd find a gas station well before we hit zero.

[Confidence does not bear any kind of relationship to common sense or intelligence, or even to reality, it seems. Confidence is not a reliable predictor of success. Confidence is like frosting: it makes the cake look good--but if the cake is no good, people won't eat it.

OK, I don't know if that made any sense at all, but I googled "confidence + anecdotes" and all I got was about a billion links to anecdotes about how having confidence leads to success, so I had to make up my own damn analogy.]

Meanwhile, back to my story. Where was I? Oh yeah, I was approaching Gary on the Indiana Tollroad, and the DTE meter had dropped to about seven. No sweat, right? The first Gary exit was closed, so we kept going to the second. C. Peevie was beginning to get anxious as DTE had now hit four.

As we exited into beautiful downtown Gary, it was about 9:45 pm-ish. There was no gas station in sight. There was nothing but darkened warehouses in sight, as a matter of fact. "Is this Gary?" C. Peevie asked.

"Yup," I said, continuing down the deserted street, hopeful in spite of the absence of any signs of a gas station.

"It reminds me of Gotham City," C. Peevie said.

"You mean because it's dark and bleak and deserted?" I asked.

"Exactly," C. P. said, trepidation creeping into his voice.

Eventually, I turned the gas-sucking mini-van around, cursing my stupidity for having such a fuel-inefficient vehicle--but not yet cursing myself for not getting gas in Chicago; and at the same time suggesting to C. Peevie that he start to pray.

We headed back onto the highway, and almost immediately saw a sign for gas in two miles. Again, with more confidence than Danny Ocean, I figured, no sweat, we've still got three miles on the DTE gauge.

Two miles later, we reach the turn-off for 94, and I take the exit to head toward South Haven. "Um, Mom?" C. Peevie asks. "Isn't that the gas station down there? Why are we driving away from it?"

"Uh oh," I said. "I guess the sign for two miles to gas was for people staying on the tollroad."

DTE: 2 miles.

"Mom, what happens if we run out of gas?" said C. Peevie nervously.

"Well, honey, we'll just make a phone call and wait, or we'll walk to a gas station," I said, still optimistic. "But don't worry about that yet. We're still golden. But you might want to say another little prayer."

DTE: 1 mile.

"Mom, we're down to one mile left," C. Peevie said.

"I know, honey, but look--there's a sign for gas coming up!" I told him. The sign said that Portage was a mere four miles away, and--again with the confidence--I knew that the DTE gauge typically registered a conservative estimate of the number of miles, and gave no credit for fumes.

DTE: Zero.

"Mom," C. P. said, making it two syllables. "Zero, Mom."

"We're still moving, C. Peevie," I reassured him. "As long as we're still moving, there's a chance we might make it." My confident tone belied the pounding of my heart and the knot in my gut. Hey--it felt just like being at a breath-takingly close championship little league game!

Do cars use less gas at slower rates of speed? I wondered. I thought I remembered hearing during the "55 Saves Lives" campaign back in the Dark Ages that better gas mileage was a fringe benefit of slower speed limits, so I started conserving gas by slowing down.

"We're slowing down," C. Peevie observed. "I think we're out of gas."

But we kept going, and finally, three miles later, we coasted into the Marathon station in Portage. Gas was a scant $3.89 per gallon--fully 45 cents less than we would have paid in Chicago. I showed those Cook County politicians who were always raising my taxes.

And all it cost me was about four years of my life, foreshortened by anxiety-induced tachycardia.

"Well, C., that was an adventure, wasn't it?" I said happily.

"No, it was not," C. Peevie said, all grumpy-like. "I was scared to death."

Some people have no sense of adventure.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

We Are The Champions

I know you've all been following the big debate about whether or not I should drive C. Peevie back to Chicago for his final championship game. I discussed it with my family: everyone was supportive, even enthusiastic. None were enthusiastic enough, however, to offer to come with us.

C. Peevie was all for it, of course, and in the end, it came down to whether I was willing to spend a significant chunk of one vacation day in the car. Since championships are rare and uplifting events--even if you lose; and as a former player myself--I was. So C. Peevie and I made the three-hour-plus sweaty drive, arriving in time to eat a sandwich and chill out for a half an hour before heading over for batting practice.

(For those of you interested in the travel details, or for future reference: It took us exactly two hours to get from Sleepy Hollow to the exit for 22nd Street south of the Loop. From 22nd Street to Jimmy John's on Irving Park, we sweated through another one hour and ten minutes of traffic.)

Everyone was surprised to see us. "I thought you were on vacation!" ChefKat exclaimed. "I am," I replied. "We're heading back up after the game." This plan was met with nods of approval mixed with a tiny bit of I-can't-believe-you're-willing-to-do-that-are-you-nuts?

But folks were glad to us--glad to see C. Peevie, I should say. More than one person told us, "We really missed him at the game on Monday." They lost, 12-8, making the series 1-1 and making a third game necessary.

"He's a key player," ChefKat's brother, Uncle D told me. "We really missed him."

I leaned toward him. "Is he really?" I fished. "He's been struggling a little at the plate."

"Yeah, he's been struggling at the plate," Uncle D said, "But he's solid in the field. We lost that game on defense, and we could have used his skills." Sigh. I didn't feel bad for going on vacation--but it validated my decision to drive in for this final game.

You can read about the dramatic conclusion of C. Peevie's little league season, and his critical part in it, on the Little League Coach. I'll post the link as soon as it's up.

UPDATE: It's up. You can read the play-by-play here.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

80 Steps: A Poem About Being Out of Shape

80 steps.
Four landings
with benches. Thank God.

Down is bad enough.
But up?
Bring oxygen tank.

Mr. Peevie grins
and runs past me
up the stairs.

The show-off.
I hate him.
Maybe he'll trip.

At the bottom
we kick off crocs and
cross a soft, sandy beach.

At the top,
if I make it,
the pool, the playground, the cottage.

Maybe I'll just stay on the beach a little longer,
and postpone the inevitable climb
up 80 steps.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Vacation Effect

This vacation thing is really great, on so many levels, and in multitudinous ways. I know I wrote about the Vacation Effect last year (since we were at a water park I referred to it as Zero-Depth Stress), but I can't help myself. It bears repeating.

I feel like I enjoy my kids more on vacation than I do in real life. I have so much more physical and emotional energy for them, and so much more patience than I normally do, because I'm not expending it on work and household crap and homework.

Yesterday Mr. Peevie and C. Peevie went for a long bike ride, about 25 miles. I asked C.P. about it later, and he said it was really great. I could tell he was thrilled to have his dad all to himself for four-plus hours.

Later, he asked me to sit on the couch with him, while we both read--just to get in some together time with mom. It made my heart melt. While we were sitting there, each immersed in our own worlds of fiction, he looked over at me and said, "I have the best family in the world."

I put my arm around his shoulder and squeezed. "I'm glad you think so, buddy," I said. "Ow, ow!" he said, pulling away and wincing. He had badly bruised his arm and shoulder while driving very aggressively on the go-cart track earlier that day, and causing a collision with another too-aggressive driver. Me.

Best Mom Ever.

We're less stressed about bedtimes than usual, because we don't have to be anywhere in the morning. When A. Peevie asks me to take him to play hoops, I don't tell him I've got too much laundry or too many dishes to do. When M. Peevie desires one more dip in the pool on the way home from the beach, I'm all hey! what the heck! we're on vacation! We can do what we want.

This place, Sleepy Hollow, is really a fabulous place to experience the Vacation Effect. Cute cottages; grassy, spacious landscaping; beach access; pool; organized activities for kids. Tonight, after all 11 of us played baseball on the lawn between our cottages, we all headed down for our own personal campfire on the beach.

Aaaaaahhhhhhhh. Vacation. It makes me think I might never yell at my kids again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dateline: Sleepy Hollow

Dateline: Sleepy Hollow.

Because we postponed our departure until after C. Peevie's first championship game, we didn't arrive in South Haven until after 7 p.m. After unpacking the car and visiting with the cousins, we all finally crashed sometime after 11 p.m.

And then began the first perfect day of vacation:

Sleeping in until 10 a.m. while Aunt Jenny flipped pancakes for the kids.

Playing on the playground: Pushing kids on the rickety merry-go-round that groaned loud, metallic groans when the weight was not evenly distributed. Dun-dunning the Indiana Jones theme music while kids hung on the sliding bar and swung themselves across the pit of snapping alligators waiting hungrily below. Scorching our bottoms on the sizzling hot metal slide.

Playing on the beach and exploring the tiny creek that empties into the lake. "Mom," M. Peevie exclaimed, looking out at Lake Michigan, "it looks like the ocean!" And she was not wrong--the lake stretched out infinitely, it seemed; and the waves valiantly imitated ocean waves, surging and crashing with enough force to make moms worry when little blonde heads dipped down for more than a second.

Swimming in the warm-but-not-too-warm pool for hours. Teaching M. Peevie to dive. Teaching A. Peevie to tread water.

Nap. Ahhhh, nap.

Grocery shopping. Because, you know, after all that playing, people got to eat.

Dinner with the whole family. Cooked by someone else. Cleaned up by someone else.

(Slight guilt trip over not helping to clean up the dinner dishes.)

More playing: Baseball on the lawn, complete with white rubber bases set 15 feet apart; Spongebob video games, and movie trivia.

Kids to bed by 10. Blogging time for me.

Could there be a more perfect vacation day? What's a perfect vacation day for you?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Suiting Up for Championship Play

Check out my latest post on The Little League Coach. Especially check out the Coach's comment on my post about missing championship playoffs. "Team comes first," he says, and Little League families should plan their vacays around the season and post-season schedule.

Coach, Coach, Coach. You are a silly, silly man. You must live on the planet I Tell My Family (Including Extended Family) What's What and That's That--which is in a far-off galaxy from my home planet.

There are ten million reasons why The Little League Coach is wrong on this one, not the least of which is gas being nine bajillion dollars a gallon. Round trip from my house to Sleepy Hollow is about 135 miles. With a not-very-fuel-efficient vehicle, and the highest gas prices in the nation, that's $70 in gas alone.

Granted, seventy bucks is not a huge amount of money--but when you look at it as the cost of playing a single, seven-inning baseball game, it seems a little crazy.

The South Haven-to-Chicago traffic jam is another consideration. Mapquest says the trip is about two to two-and-a-half hours, which is fairly accurate for those of us headed away from the city. But Mr. Peevie and I are considering buying a hot air balloon to carry us and our vehicle across the lake in order to avoid the bumper-to-bumper ride home on Sunday. It looked that bad from the outbound lanes.

Oh, and I almost forgot: The AC is broken in our van. (Remember, it was one of the Season of Repair items a few posts back. Turns out it's not just a Freon problem; it's a catastrophic failure problem that would cost $800 to fix. Not gonna happen.) Anyway, imagine THAT two-and-a-half-hour car ride. Then imagine it again--and remember--the prize at the end is not a week's vacation, but a two-hour baseball game. Are you really that committed to your Little League team?

But that's just me. What do you think? Should commitment to your team take priority? What's the cut-off cost, in dollars and opportunities? Let the Coach and me know what you think.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sometimes a Child, Sometimes an Adult

It's hard parenting a teenager because they are not the same person from day to day, or even from hour to hour.

My son C. Peevie, as I have pointed out on more than one occasion, recently entered the mysterious, shadowy, unstable realm of teen-dom. Sometimes, like yesterday, he's mature and empathetic. I was crying when I was explaining to him some heart-breaking news about a friend's betrayal. C. Peevie put his arms around me and said the only thing that you can say under the circumstances: "I'm sorry, Mom."

Most adults don't even know how to express empathy in such a simple, effective way. Many people, when someone tells them something sad, try to fix the problem, or try to make the sadness go away with the right words. (I hate this fix-it tendency.) But not C. Peevie. He understands how to be with me in sadness, without trying to fix it. I adore that about him.

But then sometimes, he's not so mature. The other day I was working my office, and from C. Peevie's room I could hear his atonal voice repeating with a strange accent, "Hullaaaoooww? Hullaaaoooww?" over and over again.

I pushed open his door, and there he was, propped up on his bean bag denim lounger. He was holding up his cell phone to one ear, the home phone to his other ear--and he was talking to himself on the phone. "Hullaaaoooww? Hullaaaoooww?"

He looked over at me as his last "Hullaaaoooww" faded, and grinned a sheepish grin. "Hi," he said.


When he's within 15 feet of his younger siblings, his maturity level decreases by approximately 3.4 years--like water seeking its lowest level. Somehow, when C. Peevie is around, M. Peevie ends up crying and A. Peevie ends up screaming. They charge through the house screeching, "Maaaaaaahhhhhhhh-meeeeeeee! C. Peevie took my toy!" or "C. Peevie pushed me!"--but somehow, it's never C.P.'s fault. "Mom, I didn't do anything!" he insists. "I was just sitting there!"


How do you reconcile this maturity and immaturity under the same head of too-long, sticking-out-at-the-cowlick hair? Let me know if you have any secrets for parenting teens, because most of the time? I'm working without a script, here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I'm Not Ready for Back to School

The Little Peevies have barely been out of school for three weeks, and already the stores are stocked with back-to-school supplies. We haven't even had our family vacation yet! We have barely begun to enjoy sleeping in, making designs with chalk on the sidewalk, splashing in the pool, and soaking up sunshine.

I'm not ready for back-to-school. You can just put your spiral notebooks and colored pocket folders and 50-count #2 pencils right back in the warehouse, because I refuse to even think about school supplies when I'm still thinking about pool supplies.

I'm not ready for assignment notebooks, gluesticks, and Crayola washable markers in classic colors, and I'm definitely not ready for homework. (I hate homework, even more than I did when I was a kid.)

Please, please let me just have summer, before you drag my thoughts back to early morning alarms, school routines, and bus routes. Let me first put up a lemonade stand with my kids, and invite the neighbors to spend a quarter on a Dixie Cup of sweet sunshine. Let me first find some garage sale bargains, and regret my first inadvertent sunburn.

I want more summer! I'm not ready for back-to-school yet.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

It's Great Having a Teenager in the House

It's great having a teenager in the house.

(Has that sentence ever before been uttered in the history of the world?)

It's true. Here's why:

1. My sleepyhead daughter can sleep in at home, with the Teenager left in charge, while I take A. Peevie to camp.

2. Instead of dragging three kids to the grocery store to pick up milk, bread and eggs, I can leave them all at home, under strict instructions to get along (all), not be bossy (the Teenager), and cooperate (the two Youngers). It feels like a mini-vacation to go to the store by myself!

3. I can sit in my office "working" while the Teenager cooks eggs and makes toast for everybody's breakfast.

4. Theoretically, Mr. Peevie and I can slip off for an hour and have a beer after the Youngers are in bed, leaving the Teenager armed with our cell phone numbers. I say theoretically, because we haven't actually done this yet: by the time the Youngers are actually in bed, we are usually too tired and crabby to even think about going out. But one of these days, we are just going to force ourselves to GO OUT AND HAVE A BEER just because we can.

5. We can get all this babysitting FOR FREE. As a family with no nearby relatives, we have paid for virtually every minute of babysitting we have gotten over the past 13 years, with the exception of a few times when friends and relatives have taken pity on us. Our motto has always been "Leave them early and often!"--and as a result, I estimate that we have paid out enough money in babysitting to pay for a lovely vacation home in Door County.

It's great having a teenager in the house.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

It's a Boy Thing. No, Wait. It's a Girl Thing, Too.

M. Peevie and I walked around the neighborhood on July 3, looking for the best places to see local (illegal) fireworks displays. As we were walking toward an alley that seemed to be the source of promising booms and flashes, we caught up with another mom and kid, seeking the same thrills.

We found a safe spot to watch the rockets' red glare, and M. Peevie immediately started talking to the little boy, who appeared to be nine or ten years old. "Do you like Pokemon cards?" she asked him. "My brother likes Pokemon cards, and he gives me some of his cards."

Neighbor-mom--let's call her Rhonda--said, "Oh, yes, Matthew loves Pokemon cards. It's a boy thing."

M. Peevie continued, without taking a breath or waiting for an answer from Matthew. "Do you like baseball cards? A. Peevie like baseball cards, too. He collects them. He has about a thousand. He even has a Babe Ruth card."

The boy may have tried to get a word in edgewise, but between M. Peevie's chatter and the frequent explosions, he really didn't stand a chance.

"She's a chatterbox," I told the mom. "She'll talk his ear off."

"Oh, that's what girls do," the mom said. "Boys don't talk as much."

Mmmmmkay, I thought. She's never met C. Peevie, obviously. Then, a few minutes later, the boy/girl comparison came up again. The boy was getting too close to the action for the mom's comfort level. "Matthew, come back here," she cautioned him, and then she turned to me. "Boys!" she said, noticing that M. Peevie had stayed back in the safe zone. "They're just so careless."

While we watched the backyard pyrotechs ignite Roman candles and aerial repeaters, Rhonda and I talked about schools, neighborhoods and parenting. Four or five more times she made references to boy/girl differences: "Oh, that's because he's a boy," she'd say; or "It's a girl thing."

It's strange to me that Rhonda assumed that so much of what happens around her, so much of what other people do, is directly tied to their gender. I wondered if she felt that way about adults, too, or if it was just children's actions that could be boxed up and labeled so neatly. It made me feel a little sad on behalf of her children, who are probably being short-changed by their mom's unconscious labeling.

It also bothered me in a sociological kind of way. If it's not just Rhonda, but it's a pervasive way of looking at the world, then I think this kind of thinking is not just inaccurate, but also disturbing and dangerous. If we assume that boys behave a certain way because they're boys, we're saying that they're not really responsible for their behaviors and choices. Same with girls.

If we say boys are good at certain things, and girls are not--or vice versa--we're unnecessarily limiting our expectations for them, and also probably limiting the opportunities and experiences that we expose them to. We won't urge our daughters to excel at math and science, for example; or we will nudge our boys away from nurturing career paths like social work and teaching--when these might actually be where their gifts lie. What an unnecessary waste!

It even bugs me when I purchase a kid meal at a fast-food joint, and the drive-through cashier asks me if I want a toy for a boy or for a girl. I have tried to keep that kind of toy sexism out of our family lexicon--but alas! it has crept in. My boys have very definite opinions about what is acceptable for a boy to play with--and the only way they'd be seen playing with a Barbie is if they were playing a game that involved throwing, mutilating, or dismembering it.

(Toy sexism doesn't go the other way in our household, though. M. Peevie is perfectly happy to play with anything that her brothers enjoy: Pokemon cards, action figures (the male-acceptable version of dolls), Hot Wheels, and tiny green army guys.)

But back to my point: I wonder if there is actual data that supports Rhonda's assumption that boys and girls are so inherently different (or possibly, that they are typically socialized so differently) that you can associate certain behaviors with their gender. Anyone?

I've read a couple of good books about parenting boys that, if I remember correctly, dispute those narrow, gender-based notions. Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Dan Kindlon, and Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from they Myths of Boyhood by William Pollack. Maybe I'll try to post a review of these books in the next week or so for those of you who are parenting boys and who would like some sociological perspective.

I'm sure there's at least two of you out there.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


A. Peevie has more anxiety than Woody Allen. From the time he was very young, he has experienced the usual childhood fears (and some not-so-usual) only in disproportionate levels. Separation, storms, dark places, animals, death, germs--these things would cause him to erupt in a screaming, inconsolable fit of terror.

One time, at the Wisconsin State Fair, we were walking happily along the Midway when A. Peevie sighted a teeny tiny storm cloud on the horizon. The sky was otherwise as clear as the skin on a Clearasil spokesteen. AP started whining for us to leave.

As the teeny tiny cloud got a little bit bigger, and a little bit closer, the whining turned to crying. "We have to leave NOW!" A. Peevie sobbed. "It's going to rain! There's going to be lightning and thunder! WE! MUST! LEAVE! NOW!"

We kept trying to reassure him. We'll go inside if it rains, we told him. We'll keep you safe. We won't let you be outside if there's any lightning. It was no use. Gradually the cloud got bigger, and the sky started to get a bit darker as the storm moved into the county. The crying turned to panicked screaming: "A storm is coming! We're going to be struck by lightning! We're all going to DIIIIIIIEEEEEEE!"

This was all before one drop of rain fell. A. Peevie kept sobbing and screaming until we finally headed into the chicken barn. It did eventually rain, and there was brief thunder and lightning. Afterward, we tried to talk rationally to A. Peevie about his fears, but he came back with a rational retort: "Lightning can KILL you," he said. And that was that.

So anyway, my point is, the boy has fear and anxiety issues. But guess what his favorite movie is.

Hint #1: It's not Sound of Music.

Hint #2: It's not animated.

Hint #3: It was made by one of my favorite movie makers, who has a new movie that just came out in June that I totally want to see, even though it only rates a 19 percent on the TomatoMeter.

That's right. A. Peevie's favorite movie, that he watches over and over again, is Signs, by M. Night Shyamalan. He loves to pause it on the brief frames where you can see a leg, a hand, or the whole body of an alien. He replays the alien scenes, and some of the other scenes too, like the one where the awesome Joaquin Phoenix leaps back six feet after seeing a video clip of an alien on TV.

He has also watched all the extras on the DVD, which makes me think that someday maybe he'll be a filmmaker. "I'll make scary movies," he told me.

Go figure.

How is this the favorite movie of a kid who can't stay in his own bed at night because of nightmares and awakemares? Sometimes he comes into my room and tells me that his imagination is scaring him, and he can't help it. "My imagination is thinking of scary things," he says.

I know what you're thinking: then stop letting him watch scary things on TV, you dummy! But we do restrict his access to scary things. This movie came on cable one night when we were on vacation (because, as you know, we STILL don't have cable at home, do we, MR. PEEVIE?), and he accidentally started watching it. The other kids, including his older brother, ran screaming from the room as soon as the scary music started, but A. Peevie talked us into letting him watch it. He was intrigued by the aliens.

And by way of brief review, I love this movie as well. I can watch it over and over again, just like A. Peevie does, because the characters capture me, and the signs, when I recognize them, make me catch my breath every time.

I love Roger Ebert's review of this movie (of course); especially this paragraph that explains exactly why I will go see Shyamalan's new movie, even though it's getting the worst TomatoMeter rating of all his movies:

In a time when Hollywood mistakes volume for action, Shyamalan makes quiet films. In a time when incessant action is a style, he persuades us to play close attention to the smallest nuances. In "The Sixth Sense" (1999) he made a ghost story that until the very end seemed only to be a personal drama--although there was something there, some buried hint, that made us feel all was not as it seemed. In "Unbreakable" (2000) he created a psychological duel between two men, and it was convincing even though we later discovered its surprising underlying nature, and all was redefined.
It's kind of cool to me that my quietly brilliant 10-year-old appreciates the nuanced story-telling of Signs. It's counter-intuitive, but cool.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Little League Mom Strikes (Out) Again

Hey, hey, hey, baseball fans. (Oh, my. I always start missing Harry Caray around this time of year.) Check out my new post on The Little League Coach.

Out in the blogosphere, parents and coaches are reporting that their seasons are over, and they're well into play-offs and all-stars. Not us. Our Little Leaguer is still suiting up and swinging away. We still have two regular season games and 2.5 make-up games to go.

C. Peevie caught a stinging line-drive at first base the other day, and is generally playing well in the field. He's struggling at the plate, however, which I'm sure is bringing his confidence down.

I remember what that was like. I often struggled at the plate as well--but in this 1977 game (!) apparently I was a "tour de force":

"William Tennent gained its eighth win in nine outings behind the pitching of Kathy Strobel, who is now unbeaten in four starts.

But the real tour de force belonged to sophomore second baseman Eve Meyer [AKA E. Peevie]. Starting for the first time, Meyer was a little nervous. She fumbled a couple of balls which paved the way for an early Pennridge lead.

But with Tennent down, 7-5 in the fifth inning, it was Meyer who drove home the tying runs with a single. Then in the sixth she opened the game up with a double.

The key defensive play of the game came when Monique Cousin threw out a runner at the plate--Monique was on target all the way from her left field position."

The caption reads, "Tennent's Eve Meyer shags throw as Upper Merion's Francine Collins steals second"--except they spelled my last name wrong.

Ah, those were the days.

Don't forget to check out my post on The Little League Coach.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Thank You, Todd Stroger

I guess if we're dumb enough to let it happen, we deserve it. If we're dumb enough to elect a comatose county president, knowing that the Machine of Nepotism would plop his tax-happy son into the seat as soon as Captain Coma could blink out his resignation, then I guess we deserve what we got.

After all, Stroger's unapologetic slogan proclaims "Revenue is Reform."

Stroger and some of his not-so-civic-minded county commissioner colleagues enacted yet another tax hike which took effect today. With the Cook County rate at 9 percent, the sales tax in Chicago is now 10.25 percent, higher than the rate in any other city in the entire country.

I wonder: is this what President Stroger means when he says in his Cook County web site bio that his administration is "committed to reinventing Cook County government, by effecting real change in the government’s operations and finding creative solutions to its myriad challenges"?

Because if so? I call bullshit.

This tax hike is going to hurt everybody. Consumers and businesses alike. This article in the Southtown Star reports that a commercial developer in Tinley Park has already capitalized on the tax increase by urging businesses in south Cook County to consider relocating, citing the tax bite as an unnecessary business buster.

Mr. Stroger has shown himself to be plenty out of touch with reality: After spending Cook County money to upgrade his vehicle to a brand-new SUV that does not meet county vehicle environmental ordinances, he plans to spend Federal Homeland Security money to retro-fit it with computers and communications equipment. Because, Stroger says, "As the president, I'm the head of Emergency Management Homeland Security. So if anything happens...we need a vehicle that will get us [to headquarters]."


We only have one option, people, and that's to start making plans NOW to get this guy and his cronies out of Cook County government. This Tribune editorial has some ideas for how to make it happen. So does Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool.

Let's not make the same dumb mistake twice.