Diary of a SAHD: Dancing with squirrels.

So yeah, the kid is playing soccer.

Let me start by saying that is a generous description of what is actually happening.

Frank has really spent his time playing golf and not much else in the way of sports.  That’s fine with me, and probably him too.  Tracy rightly thought he should get a broader experience.  You know before he settles into golf for good.  AYSO Soccer was the next thing on the calendar so we signed him up. That tale of woe can be read here: And So It Begins

We had kicked the ball around in the backyard a little but never really got into the nuts and bolts of the original game of futbol. It’s a great game, don’t get me wrong.  Two of my best friends were stars in high school, but golf is a greater game and Frank is a natural.  So we do that.

Of course once we signed him up, we’d have to do more than just kick it around.  Frank wasn’t aware of all this.  He really had no idea what we were doing.  When we got to the place to register, there was a huge play-set next door.  He thought we would be taking him to that every Saturday and he was all for it. Poor kid. Had no idea we would be dressing him like a miniature clown and making him run around a field for an hour just for our own amusement.

Like I said we had kicked the futbol around the back yard a bit but now that he had a uniform, and tiny shin guards, and tiny futbol cleats, and gigantic freaking socks that would have gone all the way up to his ears if he didn’t have hip bones blocking the way, we had to get serious about learning the game.

So I wrap him in these ridiculously huge socks, tie his tiny little cleats on him and out we go for some work on the pitch.  That’s euro talk for soccer field.  Here’s a shot of his first efforts.  Lot’s of promise.

The next Pele?  Well...

The next Pele? Well…

I mean, it looked like he was getting it and might even enjoy playing.

Then we go to his first game.  Half hour of practice followed by half hour of game.  Frank won’t get out of the car.  He was afraid the other kids would laugh at him.  I said, “No Frank, the kids won’t laugh. Parents will.  But not the kids.  It’s ok though.  Parents get to laugh at the kids as a trade off for getting up so early on a Saturday to take you to soccer.”

Surprisingly he accepted that answer and I learned an invaluable truth. Tell the kid straight.  If he realizes you’re not giving him the old windsong (read: lying) he can process it and move on.

We get to the field we’re playing on.  It’s 8:30 am and a little chilly.  The grass is wet from dew and being freshly mowed the day before. His cleats have grass on them.  He comes over to me and asks me to clean them.  I didn’t realize it then, but that should have been a warning flag.

The coach asks the kids to gather in a circle and take a knee.  Frank is the only kid standing up.  I asked him why.  His response: “I didn’t want to get grass on my knee.”  We are four games into the season, the kid has yet to take a knee in the huddle before or during any of the four games.

The second game is picture day.  You get a card made of your little soccer player, akin to a baseball card. The picture is with him holding the ball.  Very cute.  Except Frank won’t touch the ball. The picture lady helper girl is very patient.  She asks why he won’t hold the ball.  “There is grass on it.”

She gets a towel and cleans it.  He’s holding the ball.

Game four, Frank falls down for the very first time.  He’s 2.5 feet off the ground falling on a pillow of grass thicker than he is tall.  Read Copernicus, it’s possible. He gets up and stands still staring at the ground. The coach runs over to see if Frank is hurt.  Frank holds his hands out, they exchange some words and Frank then proceeds to wipe his hands on the coaches pants.  The coach looks over to me with a smile/pity grimace that says, sorry bud you’re on your own.

The soccer moms I’m sitting with love it. They think Frank’s future girl friends will like that he’s so focused on being neat and clean.  Really? I grasp that theory like the last life preserver from the Titanic. It’s the only thing that lets me sleep at night.

As far as actually playing the game, well this shot says it all.

Making his shadow hand touch his shadow forehead

Making his shadow hand touch his shadow forehead

Once Frank found his shadow during one game, he was not a very effective teammate. He dances around making his shadow do different things. Sometimes he’ll just stand there and move his hands to make different shaped shadows on the ground.

It’s really great fun to watch him.  We, as in the other soccer moms from our team, have a great time watching all the kids do everything but play soccer.  And there is the other invaluable truth.

The kids, save a few who are really good, don’t care about how much they score or kick it.  They are just running, and jumping, some doing cart wheels during the game and having fun because they are with friends.  As much as I might try to explain it to him, and I won’t, at this age Frank will never understand the nuance of getting the ball from the kids in the opposite colors, kicking to the other end of the pitch, and kicking it in the net.  He just wants to be running with the group who does all that.  If that group runs off to chase a squirrel that ran onto the field, Frank will be running right with them not caring for second if they catch the squirrel.

Besides, I don’t give a flyin squirrels behind about soccer.  Frank has never made one shadow puppet on the golf course.  But we have stopped to watch a bald eagle fly over, help a very large turtle get across the #5 fairway, and laugh at a rabbit running so fast across the green on # 12 to get out of my way, it almost hit Frank. Golf allows him to take in what he’s seeing. Can’t really do that on the pitch.  But he loves running around with his teammates, as he calls them.

Took me four games to understand how much fun he’s having.

He absolutely could care less if he ever kicks the ball once. So long as he’s running after it with the other five kids on the field, he’ll gladly let one of them kick it.

There’s something admirable in that I think.

So happy he's shaking his own teammates hands too.

So happy he’s shaking his own teammates hands too.

Diary of a SAHD: Power of the Cone

Editors note: This is the fifth and final installment of a multi-part series on our summer road trip to NJ. They are not in sequential order.  Some of this will be akin to eye wateringly boring home movies.  Anyway, you’ve been warned.

As I said in an earlier post, we were riding free all the way back to Knoxville, Tennessee.  Usually on a trip that long you’re gonna run into some type of traffic jam from an accident, toll booth pile ups, normally on I95 in Maryland, or a bunch of jerk-weed 18 wheelers running in the passing lane, something.

The consternation usually starts around the toll booths.  There are no toll roads from Virginia into Knoxville.  So once we navigate through the myriad of tolls in Jersey and through to Maryland it’s clear sailing. And on this particular trip we shot through toll booth alley with ease. So much so it worried us a little.

I mean, we would have to pay for that somewhere right?  No way we scoot through there unscathed without hitting a major road block somewhere, a stop dead and get out of your car to stretch your legs in the middle of a six lane highway, type jam.

So now we are worried and paranoid.  Every time the jack-leg in front of us, no matter who it was, hits the breaks I think, oh crap here it comes.  We’ll be sitting here till doomsday.  Whenever we saw the opposite lanes of traffic look suspiciously empty I thought, bet some chooch flipped his BMW and is blocking all lanes, probably going to stop dead any minute now.

Folks it’s a long 13 hour trip.  The mind does what it does.  Especially mine.

After about 7 hours down the highway, my mind was finally right, we are coming to a dead stop. Relief and anger.  I can stop being paranoid.  By the way, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean a 5 hour traffic jam isn’t about to happen.

Anyway, we are only stopped dead for about 10 minutes.  Then we start the 2 mph creep.  That lasts for about 2 miles. The tail gunner (Grammy), thinks she sees a merger ahead that might be causing the problem. She was right, sort of.

There was a merge going on but that was not causing the problem.  This was:

Yeah - it's a cone and it's all alone.

Yeah – it’s a cone and it’s all alone.

A single solitary cone was sitting about 1 foot inside the white line on the side of the road.  It was not blocking traffic, it was not causing anyone to go around it, it was just sitting there, doing what cones do.  Which is to say, nothing.

Although, it was doing something, it was causing a lot of mouth-breathers to slow to a stop and stare at it.  A phenomenon that will go unanswered till that great and terrible day.

It was also causing us to lose valuable time in the rush to get home.

A cone without it’s flagman, a traffic gnome without it’s fairy godmother, a ship without it’s captain, … dare I go on.

It reminded me of a scene from the movie Patton, where Patton’s armored column gets stuck on a bridge in Italy because a local can’t get his mules to move off the road.  In the meantime two German fighter planes are strafing the armored column and men are dying.  Patton rushes to the front of the column where the mules are, almost has an aneurysm when he finds out what’s going on, draws his pearl handled pistols and blows the brains out of the two mules. Problem solved.

I mean we weren’t being shot at by Germans or anything, but we were making good time and all of a sudden we weren’t.  And if it’s one thing dudes hate, it’s not making good time when driving a long way.  I’m not sure you can quantify the pressure of getting home even ten minutes faster than you thought.  Somehow it makes the whole 15 hour trip seem not as bad.

Don’t even try to do the math, you might tear the space time continuum.

All I’m saying is, good thing for the cone my pearl handled pistols were packed in my golf bag.




Off Topic: An announcement and Swag Time!

Very excited, maybe too excited to make this announcement.  Frank’s Place just got it’s own FaceBook page.  You can find it here Frank’s Place or click the link on the right side of the page. From now on all posts from the blog will appear on that page.  Some other features will pop up as we get rolling.  Head on over there and give us a click on the old “Like” button.  To quote the world’s greatest pastor, “It’ll  change your life.”

In honor of this monumental achievement we are bringing back a fan favorite: the Frank’s Place T-shirt give away.

That’s right, we sold off a few of our Obama phones on eBay, cashed in some food stamps with a dude named Warren who hangs by the gas pumps at our Kroger, dropped our health care coverage, and we’re dirty with cash once more.  So we’re spreadin the wealth.

The hot Christmas item this year

The hot Christmas item this year

Here is the smart looking shirt and current logo of Frank’s Place.  Shirts come in men’s and women’s sizes.

We have used a few different formats to pick winners in the past.  This month we’re going with a tried and true method. Randomness.  I gave Frank a list of the legions of people who follow and comment here at Frank’s Place and he randomly selected 4 lucky winners.  He may have just been reaching for some M&Ms or as he calls them “nems”.  Who knows? Either way his sugar induced shakes caused his hand to land on 4 winners.

As I have said before this is not some dumb reality show that creates a stupid crescendo only to go to commercial right before announcing the big thing.  We get right to it.  The winners are as follows:

New follower, non-blogger division: John Harris, USA!

John is a total newbie to Frank’s Place, having just signed up by e-mail 8 short days ago.  In less than 2 weeks John has hit it big at Frank’s Place.

Congrats John.  Get me your T-shirt size and I’ll chuck one on your porch.

Full disclosure, Harris is my next door neighbor.  Gotta keep peace in the hood.

Longtime Friend of Frank’s Place, E-mail division: George Wessler, USA!

George has been following and commenting at Frank’s Place and at Unfiltered/Unfettered, my political blog/podcast for over a year now.  A retired US Air Force Master Sargent, and Aircraft Hydraulic Systems Specialist, Wessler is living the good life as he so richly deserves. Now he can do it in a fancy t-shirt. Size and shipping address to franknfran0967@gmail.com please George.

Longtime Follower, Blogger Division: Chef Mimi – parts unknown!  You can catch her righteous food/cooking blog here: http://chefmimiblog.com/ If you can’t cook, go read her blog. If you can cook, go read her blog.  Either way you’ll learn something.  T-shirt size and shipping address to franknfran0967@gmail.com please Chef.

Frequent Commenter, Non-suscriber Division: Lisa Edwards, USA!  Lisa normally links to us from Facebook. For a non-subscriber she is one of most loyal followers, and for that Lisa we thank you.  T-shirt size and shipping address to franknfran0967@gmail.com please.

If you haven’t guessed by now, the categories are made up by me after Frank picks the names.  So if you feel like your particular group is underrepresented, don’t, it’s not.

To be eleigible you must be either a member of Frank’s Place by submitting your e-mail in the space provided under Get It Fresh Off The Belt! or be a frequent commenter.  

Get your name on the list somehow.  

Don’t miss out!