Adventures at the Hospital

There’s never a dull moment with our family. I’m back at the hospital. I’m not the patient this time. This time I’m with one of my children, who has been complaining of some aches and pains. The pains have become unbearable and gotten to the point they can barely move some joints.

We don’t know what’s wrong. We just know the child is in pain. We had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for the next day but it became clear they couldn’t wait that long. I packed up the child and drove to the hospital.

Loyal readers remember my day at the hospital with poison ivy. That was a fun day. Things here haven’t been as exciting or eventful. There was one belligerent person who was tired of waiting. Staff was able to calm him down.

My view

We’ve been here for over four hours. one person near us says they’ve been here for eight hours. I think someone else has been here for 10 hours. Maybe I should have packed a toothbrush.

It’s 1:30 in the morning. One of the children at home recently texted me. I asked what they were doing up. They didn’t have an answer, but they assured me they were going to bed.

Someone is arguing on their telephone. I’m not sure what’s going in but I thought I heard, “Get me out of here!”

Someone is sitting next to us. They’re offering their opinion on how things are being run here. The employee is listening and being very nice and attentive. I wonder if we’re going to see a suggestion box in the waiting area soon.

It’s 3:30 and my child has finally fallen asleep. I want them to sleep but I also want them to be seen. I guess they can wake up and then fall asleep in their bay.

I got myself a blanket at 6:00 and fell asleep. I woke up at 7:00. One hour of sleep. I should be ready to face the day with that. Who needs coffee when you have adrenaline?

Wife came by at 8:00 with breakfast and coffee. Forget what I said about who needs coffee.

We’ve now been waiting 10 hours. At least we have sustenance. Eating is nice, but it only takes up so much time. I leave the waiting area to find a gift shop. Maybe I can find a game for me and my child to play. I find someone who works at the hospital and ask where the gift shop is. There is no gift shop. I’m a little puzzled by this. A gift shop would provide gifts for patients, games for visitors and people looking to pass the time. This brings in money to the hospital and keeps prices in check. I just controlled the cost of healthcare? Is anyone from the hospital reading this? Are they hiring. Are they going to let this talent go to waste? Do you realize what you have here in front of you? 💡 💰

We gave up after waiting 14 hours. We decided to cut bait and try another hospital. We stopped at home to pack clean clothes, some video games, and see Wife. We tell her about the fun sleepover we had. After preparing for Hospital part 2, we stop for lunch. We drive around looking for parking. This place is busy. The last hospital was a 14-hour wait. This should be fun.

New hospital

The Boy was called up. They took his vitals and checked him in. A nurse looked at me and warned me there was already a line of people in front of us and they see people based in severity. Who knows what could come in while we’re here. We’re looking at a wait of one or two hours. He thought we should know what the wait could be. Did we think that was alright? If only he knew about our wild night.

The Boy got examined. They asked him some questions while they examined him. He asked them some questions. I asked some questions. They took some blood. They have him something for the pain. They wanted to wheel him to the X-ray wing. I asked if I could jump on the bed and ride with him. They said, “No.” I said please. They said, “No,” again. 👎

Souvenirs from the hospital visit.

He gets back from the X-ray. We wait for the results. His hospital gown has little tigers on it. I tell him it looks like Kitty. He disagrees. The Boy plays video games. I read. We continue to wait for the results. I thing about the hospital mini-tour we’ve done. The nurse returns. They can’t find anything wrong. I’m mildly disappointed.

“I’m the one they call Dr. Feelgood.”

I text wife and the kids to let them know what’s happened. There’s nothing else the hospital can do and nothing else we can do. We get ready to head home. Before we go, I take the hospital down and snap a picture for Kitty. I want to see if she gets déjà vu or thinks she’s looking in a mirror. We head home. Neighbors brought us Chinese food. I eat a couple of plates. The diet during this journey killed me and ruined the figure I’ve worked so hard on lately. I go to bead early. The next day, I’m calling The Boy‘s doctor to brief them and see what more needs to be done. After that, I’m going to see what needs to be done around the house. I was gone and Wife’s working. I can’t wait to see what crises are waiting for me.

On to the next crisis.

Local New England Beers 🍻

All of us have been busy. Every week seems to be another episode of dividing and conquering. This fall has us dealing with one cross-country schedule and two different football schedules. One for a flag-football player and another for a cheerleader.

I had The Oppressed one weekend for a football game near the Rhode Island state line. We needed to make the drive back home but I, being the wise parent, thought we should stop somewhere first to get something to eat. The Oppressed agreed and we decided to stop in a nearby place for breakfast. This place was in Rhode Island and, as a personal rule, if I am in a different state, I have to stop somewhere for some local beer. I feel this is the best way to familiarize myself with the ways and customs of the people in the state I am visiting.

My selection was the single-hopped pale ale (6% abv) from Derivative, a creation of the Proclamation Ale Company of Warwick, RI. I liked this beer. Usually I like IPA’s to be a little stronger, but this one did the trick. Derivative delivers a nice IPA that’s not too hoppy. If you like IPA’s but sometimes feel a little overpowered by it hoppiness, this is for you.

Derivative Pale Ale from Rhode Island.

There was another time the open road called me. This time it was to Maine to visit family. While in the Pine Tree State, I grabbed some of the locally brewed offerings. My selection was another IPA, not because it’s may favorite, but because this seemed to be all the store was offering that day. I walked out with a Pulp Truck IPA (6% abv) from Marsh Island Brewing.

This was a well-balanced beer. In other words, you’re not overpowered by the hops. It’s also not too strong. You can have a couple of these while sitting down with friends at lunch and still be able to drive home.

I was hoping to sample something beside IPAs, but this was what these nice people had to offer. Small brewers can only make so much, and I’m sure it’s difficult to brew many kinds simultaneously. Still, if you like beer, you should try a new brewer, especially a small one. These people live nearby, your helping the local economy and helping people in the area support their families. You’re drinking good beer and supporting the town. Good for you. 🍻

Adoption

Our children posing with the judge.

It was a very exciting week for us. It usually is, but this exciting week was a special one for Wife and me. Last week, we officially became parents of The Gaggle. It was a long process. It usually is when you’re dealing with the state, but in all honesty, the wait wasn’t as long as it could have been.

So, what changes? Not much, really. The children have been with us for a long time now. They’ve been with us for over a year and we’ve got our routines down. In addition to school, we also have sports practice, doctor’s appointments, and visits with friends.

We’re going to trip over dirty clothes and find dirty dishes in random places. We’re going to stare in disbelief at the answers we receive to what we thought were simple questions.

We’re still going to have our vacations and our day trips. There will still be our weekend trips to Cape Cod. We’re going to trip over dirty clothes and find dirty dishes in random places. We’re going to stare in disbelief at the answers we receive to what we thought were simple questions. We’re going to shake our heads and facepalm when we see things that happen in our house.

We will continue to team children up when it comes to the chores around the house. We will continue to walk from room to room and wonder why things don’t get done around the house. We’ll hear about school and practice being, “great.” We’ll continue to deal with the challenges faced by us and other parents around the globe.

Children banging the gavel to make the adoption official.

We arrived at court on the day of the festivities. We met with the judge before the proceedings officially began to get the rundown. We then went to the courtroom where things were officially declared. The judge officially named us parents to the Gaggle, now officially known as Slick, Slugger, and Lovie, and children were given a gavel to pound and declare our parenthood official.

One of the children, who had turned 18 before the adoption could become official, was not “adopted” in an official sense. The Oppressed realizing this, promptly drew up a decree of adoption and had Wife and I sign it. It hangs in our kitchen.

A homemade adoption certificate.

From there, we went to lunch to celebrate the day and our accomplishment. We then went home to rest from the excitement.

Friends came by over the weekend for dinner to celebrate and congratulated us on the good news. Our social media has been flooded with likes and comments congratulating us and wishing us the best as we continue our adventures in parenting. It’s always going to be exciting, maybe more exciting than we’d like. There’s going to be a problem, a practice to go to, a game to attend. There will be the hiccups that accompany the days in the life, but that’s okay. We love our children.

brave-daddy

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The Scarlet Letter Day (with apologies to Nathaniel Hawthorne)

It’s an old car with a lot of mileage. Some cars need more work than others and, as a previous owner of high-mileage cars, I know some inspections can be iffy at best.

As parents, we do a lot for our children. Loyal daddies and mommies are aware of the things Wife and I do for our miracles of Christ. Sometimes the things we do take a little longer than others.

One child needed their car fixed. It’s hard to do when they’re at school all day. I got the car after taking The Oppressed and The Boy to their school. After dropping them off, I stretch my legs for a nice morning walk to pick up the car. From there, it’s off to another garage for a sticker.

It’s an old car with a lot of mileage. Some cars need more work than others and, as a previous owner of high mileage cars, I know some inspections can be iffy at best.

This car fails inspection. Emissions. There’s a leak out of the exhaust. A neighbor who knows cars looks underneath and assures me the problem isn’t a big one and there’s a great place nearby that can get it fixed for us. My neighbors selling point? It’s a garage with a bunch of guys smoking and talking cars. Well, I quit smoking over 10 years ago, but if a car place is good enough for my car-savvy neighbor, by jump-start it’s good enough for me.

A rejection sticker on a car that failed inspection.
The Scarlet Letter

I take the car to get repaired. Job is done and I am on my way back to get the sticker… and it fails again.

No problem I tell myself. They offered me two options and I took the cheaper one. Maybe I should have taken the option that required more work and time. Shame on me. I go back to the garage that did the work and ask if I need a new part. They look at the car. People are visibly upset. There’s nothing wrong with the parts. They’re trying to get me to have work done at their garage so they can overcharge me. Stay there, they tell me. Have a seat. People are going to get to the bottom of this. One guy grabs the phone and asks for the phone number. He knows the place. Everyone knows the place. He just needs the phone number so he can talk to “them”. What’s he going to say? Should I follow him? Should I go live? Fight! Fight! Fight!

I don’t know what happened I just know I take a seat and wait for the saga to unfold. I also know they have donuts because the guy behind the desk takes me to the garage and presents a box of donuts. He offers me one. I accept because it’s been a long, harrowing morning and I’m worth it.

A white car sitting in the driveway in the morning of early autumn.
Off the bench and ready for action.

They look at the car. There’s some more work that needs to be done but they don’t see anything that would make the car fail inspection. Oh well. Hopefully, it’s something that we’re fixing now and won’t have to worry about for even longer now that we’re addressing it. And, did I mention they have donuts?

Nothing happened between the two garages. I thought there would be some drama. There was no drama. People just wanted to know where this place was that failed the car. I’m a little disappointed. I thought there would be a little something to spice up my morning.

I’m there for a little longer. Maybe an hour. The car comes back out. I pay for the work and return to the first garage for another attempt to pass muster. The car goes in. I hold my breath. Do I dare to peek inside? I do. I see the scarlet sticker removed and replaced with a sticker that passes inspection. Good boys and girls get stickers in school. This car was good and got a sticker. I feel like I’m standing on the podium as the National Anthem is playing while the medal – I mean sticker – goes on and the car is backed out. I thank the nice men for their time and drive home to tell Wife about my donut.

Playing Games and Waiting Turns

Keep in mind I said there are three people playing cards and there’s not a lot of time between turns, but my children (especially The Boy) are convinced they have the time to check their rooms, run downstairs, go somewhere and do something and be back in time for their next turn.

School is in. Classes have started. Assignments have commenced. All five children are in the routine of reading and writing.

It was a good summer. We got to get away a couple of times. We tried new things. Wife and I liked being able to try a new restaurant in the middle of our travels and the kids liked the donuts we got at Donut Dip. We had a good summer. It was nice to have a break from the excitement of the daily life of work, practice, and the daily crisis that befalls us.

Monopoly. A favorite of mine and one of the Gaggle’s.

We still get a little free time now and then. That usually happens at night when dinner is over and dishes are done by the child who has that task. They haven’t started them yet, but it’s just a matter of time. For a short time, before we send the children to bed to recharge the batteries for the upcoming day, people usually spend a few moments doing something. For me, that means playing a game with The Oppressed and The Boy. Sometimes one of The Gaggle will join us, especially if it’s a game of Monopoly (I love that child).

Lately, it’s been cards. We play a couple of games before sending the children to bed. The games are fun. The problem is that the children don’t understand they actually need to be there when they are playing. We play Uno at night. There are three of us, so theoretically, it’s a fast-paced game where you don’t need to wait very long for your turn.

With our house, there’s always something that steals our children’s attention. It doesn’t take much when it comes to our kids and it doesn’t matter what it is we’re doing at the time. My children think they can multi-task. I wish they felt this power when it came to picking up their rooms or whatever mess they left behind. It’s a strange power. It comes and goes like wi-fi signals.

Uno cards patiently waiting to be played.

We’ll start to play a game. It starts well. Everyone checks their hand, waits their turn, and throws a card. As the game progresses, though, the children feel a need to check on other things throughout the house. Keep in mind I said there are three people playing cards and there’s not a lot of time between turns, but my children (especially The Boy) are convinced they have the time to check their rooms, run downstairs, go somewhere and do something and be back in time for their next turn. They thrown down a card, jump up, and make a dash for it. Before they’ve left the room, I tell them it’s their turn and need to be back. They will be back, they tell me, right after they check out what needs to be checked out. They’ll be right back, and they do come back just in time to throw down another card before doing another lap around the house before coming back for their turn. Honestly, it’s almost like we’re back at Six Flags. Waiting a long time for something that’s a fraction of the time we spent waiting. Maybe that’ what The Boy is doing. Maybe he thinks we’re back at Six Flags and he’s pretending he’s still on Summer Vacation. Or maybe he just has that sudden burst of energy that evades him when we need to leave the house or pick up his room. I don’t know. I’ve mentioned before there are mysterious forces at my house; Forces that visit and leave messes in what were clean and tidy rooms and corners. Maybe these forces have found their way to my son. I wonder if they can get him to the car in time for football practice.

School Days, Here Again

It’s September. That means transitioning from vacation to school. Hopefully, it will also mean having a few more uninterrupted conversations with my wife now that the Miracles of Christ are back in school.

School has returned.

Everyone is adjusting to the new schedules. Some children are dealing with the harsh reality of not waking up at noon. Other children are adjusting to a morning of getting dressed and leaving the house instead of rolling out of bed and going on autopilot to the television, generating just enough energy to stay vertical until they reach the couch.

I’m adjusting, too. I need to make sure I’m up early enough to get the little cherubs out of bed and on their way to the car or bus. I’m helping children get their breakfast and find their things so they can be on time for school. The first day of school was tough. Kids had tons of supplies to see themselves through the school year. Usually, we can get to the school a day or two before the official first day and drop the things off so children can just walk to their classrooms on Day One and not worry about anything else but making it to the classroom and seeing who they were sitting next to.

It didn’t happen this time. Oh, well. I dropped off The Oppressed and The Boy with their gear. Luckily, things fit in their bags and they were able to remain upright on their way into the building. I went home and did my work, patiently waiting for the time I could return to the school and find out about their day.

That glorious time came and I eagerly waited at the school parking lot for the doors to open and release the children from the temporary adult oppressors to the permanent oppressors. The Oppressed was in relatively good spirits and gave about as much information as I could expect. The Boy, on the other hand, was none too happy. Apparently, his teacher took his things from him as soon as he got to his room and locked them up on him. The Boy didn’t understand why the teacher had to take his things away from him without any explanation. I decided to find out more about this and asked The Oppressed, who just happened to be an alumna of this teacher. It turns out this teacher allows the students to keep what they need in their desks and the excess stock is kept in a closet. When the student needs something, the teacher will fetch it from the closet, thereby making sure that everything is accounted for, nothing gets lost, and the student has everything they need for a successful school year. The Boy didn’t exactly see it that way and was upset with his teacher for days because she, “stole” the things he needs for school. The Oppressed and I tried to explain what happened. The Boy said she should have spoke to him about it and asked him if it was alright to take his things before she took it. After all, The Boy reminded us, it’s his stuff.

Despite my inexperience and lack of know-how when it comes to parenting (I just live here with my children), I have learned there are times when it is best to just let kids sulk and stew about the cruel lot cast upon them by fate. At this point, all I can do is patiently wait for The Boy to need something and, at that time, the teacher will go to the closet and retrieve what he needs from the supply closet. Maybe then he will understand the grand scheme of the teacher and her classroom.

Time will tell. As of now, there are other things to deal with. Another round of the Homework Wars will be descending upon us. There are flag-football, cheerleading, and cross-country practices to attend. Wife and I have our own jobs. I know I said something about having uninterrupted conversations with my wife while the children are away, but there may be other things lurking in the shadows and waiting to snatch whatever chance I have to talk to her without someone or something jumping in and fill what I thought was an opening.

Fundamentals of Basketball (Shooting Baskets)

The Boy has taken a liking to basketball. This is only natural as one of the Gaggle plays, watches, breathes, and lives basketball. The Boy tends to want to do things older children do, especially the older ones living with him.

I jump in a game sometimes. Sometimes, I will just wait under the hoop and get the rebound and pass it to someone. God forbid someone gets a rebound nowadays. The Gaggle will try a shot and sometimes I will call out “Miss!”. The ball hits the rim and falls to the ground. No basket. The Gaggle looks at me because my powers caused him to miss the shot. I never knew I had this power and now I think I have the perfect reason to get free tickets to Celtics games.

Basketball really isn’t my thing. Brave Daddies, Brave Mommies, and other loyal readers know this already. When I started writing for newspapers, I addressed the shortage of hockey writers in the department. It was cold in the ice rinks, but people wanted to know what was going on with the renegades of the rink. I gave up heated gymnasiums and climate-controlled fieldhouses in order to deliver the scores and the stories behind those scores in unheated hockey rinks. You’re welcome.

I’ve gotten into basketball ever since the Gaggle had taken a liking to it. I was at basketball game cheering for him and the rest of the team. I offered whatever advice I could after the game. I asked him about the game on the way home. We would talk a little and wait for the next game or practice.

A basketball laying on the ground.
A basketball on the ground because nobody wanted to get the rebound.

Back home, The Boy will join in on our games/shootarounds. The boy is still growing and the Boston Celtics aren’t scouting him yet. He likes to shoot from downtown. He can barely make the rim, but he insists he can do it. I offer some advice to him while he’s dribbling. Does he take any? Of course not. It reminds me of my basketball games with the boy named “Wilt”. “Wilt” would be double-or-triple-teamed. It didn’t matter. He was going to take it to the hole one way or another. I’d be wide open. Heck, he could even pass it to me, get some defenders off him, and he’d be open and under the hoop. Ready to lay one in. But, no. He knows what he’s doing. He can do it. Just like the children at my house. They won’t take advice. They won’t make a lot of baskets right now, but if you have a clause in your contract for rebounds, they just might make you wealthy.

I try to talk to The Boy about this. If he would move a little closer to the hoop, he could work on his dribbling, his footwork, his layups. I thought it would be a good chance for him to work on everything. As he gets older, his arms get stronger. He can move further away from the hoop as time goes on and work on those three-pointers he’s so obsessed with. But, no. He knows what he’s doing. I don’t know what I’m talking about, as usual. My advice is useless and I know nothing.

Another shot goes off the rim and down the street. More boys chase after it. Maybe next time, The Boy will move a little closer to the hoop. Then again, maybe not.

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The Challenge of High School Sports

I’m not a runner. I never have been. One day… I almost lost to an offensive lineman. Running isn’t my forte. Now I have a child who wants to spend his time after school running. This is someone who lacks hustle when getting ready to leave the house, but who am I to step on one’s dreams?

Seasons come and go, especially in sports. When I was a child, seasons were divided into sports, school, and summer vacation. The sports seasons and their beginnings and ending remained when I moved from being a high school student to a newspaper reporter. I didn’t mind it, of course. I’ve enjoyed playing and watching sports my entire life.

I’ve taken that experience in sports and used it to teach my own children and those who have played under my tutelage during the baseball and football seasons. As a coach, I have served as a teacher, a motivator, and sometimes a therapist for those who watched someone step on their base or didn’t get the ball thrown to them on a certain play regardless of how many people were covering them. These are challenging times for me. Sometimes I have to explain to someone why they got pushed out of bounds. It’s because they had the ball and were running near the sidelines. Sorry, Champ. That’s how the game is played.

It’s not always easy, but then again, I’ve been watching sports long enough to figure a solution to the problem. That’s what I do. I fix things: game situations, strategies, bruised arms and egos. I find a solution and help the promising athlete back on their feet in on the field.

A runner completing a race.
Sports can be challenging… for the kids, too. Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU on Pexels.com

And then one of the Gaggle tells me they want to run cross-country. This threw me for a loop, especially when they originally wanted to play football. At least with football, I could offer a little advice. Cross-country? I get excited when I break the eight-minute mile. I’m not a runner. I never had been. One day at football practice in high school, I almost lost to an offensive lineman in the 40-yard dash. I had a baseball coach who told me to get the refrigerator out of my back pocket when I ran. I wasn’t fast. I’m still not fast. Running isn’t my forte.

A child's messy bedroom.
My organized children

Now I have a child who wants to spend his time after school running. This is someone who lacks hustle when getting ready to leave the house, but who am I to step on one’s dreams? Lucky for me, a friend of mine happens to be a runner. He was captain of the high school cross-country team. He beat me in every race and game we had. I’m not going to say if I let him win. We’re friends. No need to get into the past like that. Anyway, I sought his advice for running since I had none to give. He gave me some pointers that I passed along to the Gaggle. It should be interesting. This child will be running about three miles every day. He’s been excited about it. I haven’t dealt with high school sports in a while. I’m still getting back into it and figuring out captains’ practices (if any) and what the child needs in order to practice with the team (doctor’s forms, permission slips, CYA paperwork). There’s also the issue of making sure the child knows their schedule, when practice starts and ends. When and where the meets are. What they need for said practice and meets. I’m not worried. I’m sure they’ll be fine. They’re a teenager. What could possibly go wrong?

Family Time and Road Trips

Ahhh, vacation. A time for leaving the hustle and bustle of work and everyday life. A time to replace work with fun. A time to check out someplace new and maybe try new things. Try new food, or maybe indulge in a little extra of your favorites.

Whether we’re on vacation or just trying to live our daily lives, nothing is normal or routine with our family. And even if we’re just trying to live a low-key life at home or away on vacation, action and excitement finds a way to find us.

Booking the trip

Wife and I were looking for a place to take our children on vacation this summer. Sadly, our options were limited as to where. (Check the state’s rules for foster parents if you want to know how.) After looking, consulting, and careful planning, we thought a few days at Six Flags would be just the thing. We found a nearby hotel that included passes to Six Flags. Breakfast was included with your stay. I showed this to my wife as the heavens opened up and a choir of angels began to sing. Brave Daddy had come through for his family!

I got the confirmation email shortly after booking. There was no mention of the included passes, so I called the hotel to find out if that would be in a separate email. Turns out they, “don’t do that anymore.” They stopped doing that during Coronapalooza. I tell the nice lady it would have been nice to know that when the website was saying passes were included. She was sorry.

I consult with my wife. We still want to go to Six Flags so we decide to keep the reservation since the hotel is so close to the park. Lucky for us we live in the 21st century and things can be done with the click of the mouse or tapping your phone. Loving parents that we are, we go online and look to secure tickets for our family. I find a package that fits our family and includes free soft drinks for the entire day of our visit. Brave Daddy has come through again! I check the terms and conditions to confirm this isn’t something too good to be true. I click “buy”. Rides. Food. Free drinks. Parking close to the park. I’d prepare my “Father of the Year” acceptance speech but I need to take care of things for work. I need to cook dinner and there’s a trip I need to pack for. The speech will need to wait.

The confirmation email from Six Flags arrives. The amount paid looks a little (a lot) different from what was listed at the checkout screen. Apparently I missed some things in the finer fine print. I explain to the nice person on the phone the price at checkout did not match the price charged to my card. The nice person explained the reason for the price. I asked for a refund. They don’t do that. They were sorry.

“If you actually get somebody on the phone, nobody can help but everybody understands… And they’re always sorry.”

Bill Burr

Getting There

The glorious day of leaving on vacation finally arrives. Doggie goes to the kennel. The car is packed. Everyone has their screens and headphones, ready for the ride through the fair commonwealth of Massachusetts. I love travelling and I love driving. Living in eastern Massachusetts, we don’t normally see western Massachusetts. I’m travelling to a different place. We’re going on vacation. We’re going to an amusement park. Life is good.

After our excursion (including a stop or two for food and bathroom breaks), we finally arrive at our lodging. A quaint place of business strategically located off the highway for travelers such as us. I go to the front desk to check in and get our keys. After getting the necessary information, I look over and see a “restaurant” with tables pushed to the side and chairs stacked on the tables. I ask the nice person behind the desk if that’s where the breakfast is served in the morning. The nice person gives me a look indicating they have no idea what I’m talking about. I don’t need them to say anything. I know this is going to be good. There’s no breakfast. They don’t serve breakfast. It would have been nice to know that when their website touted a free breakfast with your stay. They were sorry.

Donut Dip. Our source for breakfast.
Go there. You’re welcome.

There was a silver lining to this story. Not having breakfast at the hotel meant we needed to find a place to feed our starving children. Parents know what a tedious, thankless job this can be. I did a search of the area and found “Donut Dip”, a quaint shop near the hotel that would, could, and did solve our breakfast conundrum. The Boy and I left and returned with donuts, coffee, and juice for all of us to fill up and prepare for our excursion in western Massachusetts.

Fun at Six Flags

We arrived at Six Flags. The temperature was hot. Thankfully, we had access to the water park. After going on a couple of rides and trying to find cold drinks to cool off, we decided to splash around the water park. From the water park we were back on the rides. The Boy was the most adventurous. He went on every ride he could. He was ecstatic every time he found out he was tall enough. He and one of The Gaggle went on the SkyScreamer. It’s a ride that climbs 400 feet and goes in circles. He loved it. I think he’s still excited about going on. This was just one example of the joy he felt going on the rides.

Our daredevils on the Skyscreamer.

Like I said, it was hot when we went. Luckily, our membership allowed for free soft drinks all day, everyday. There was a small problem: Half of the concession stands were closed when we were there. The concession stands that were open didn’t have functioning fountain machines. We were looking for rides and looking for drinks. Sometimes the lines for the drinks (and the food) were longer than the rides. If you’ve been to Six Flags or any amusement park for that matter, you know how long the lines can be.

I was in line at one concession stand and thought I was going to get a little added entertainment when someone tried to jump the line and fill their cup ahead of the people who were patiently waiting in line. Despite multiple reminders that there was a line and you couldn’t cut, this person continued to attempt to fill their cups. People got louder. I thought there was going to be a brawl. I had my cell phone ready to record whatever was going to go down. Would I be YouTube famous? Who knows? It didn’t happen. The person left the line. No additional drama.

We went home with more gear that when we got to the park. Children loaded up on hats, toys and souvenirs. People won prizes for winning games. My children don’t have enough stuff in their bedrooms, so naturally they got more. We stopped at a diner for breakfast before the trek home. We unloaded the car, picked up Doggie, and crashed for the night. In the morning, we packed up again for a couple of nights down Cape Cod. There we regaled Wife’s parents with glorious tales of Six Flags, the hotel, food, and a near-brawl over soft drinks.

Cape Cod presented its own challenges but challenges go with the territory when it comes to my family. I had daily shopping excursions with one of Wife’s aunt. Every time we got back we found out something was needed. We added it to the list and set out the next day. There was lively conversation at mealtimes that focused on the vacation and the fun we had food shopping. The days on Cape Cod were a lot cooler than the sweltering days in Western Massachusetts. We went to the lake one day. The kids went swimming. I stayed on the sand with Wife until The Oppressed came to me and begged me to go into the water with her. I did and I’m still recovering from the shock of the cold water. My kids would swim in a blizzard if we’d let them. Cold doesn’t faze them at all, unless of course we’re walking to or from school, taking a hike, or playing a game outside.

Doggie tried to play with my in-law’s dog, who was totally disinterested in that. Both dogs spent their time competing for table scraps that might fall from the table. They played the percentages and hung out near the Boy, who was the smallest of the family and the least careful with his plate of food. Both dogs also hung out near the grill. Their dog suddenly decided he needed to mark his territory at the grill. That was never a problem before. Now it needed to be official.

The dogs co-existed. Our dog was excited to have a playmate. Their dog tolerated our dog and made it clear on many occasions that there would be minimal playing. There were campfires at night where we had drinks and made s’mores. Walks downtown resulted in ice cream and candy. None of the kids wanted to share despite numerous requests. I reminded them I would have shared with them. They told me that’s nice.

Now we’re back home. Wife and I are back to work. We share glorious tales of our trip and learning experiences with friends and family. Camp will be starting soon. Kitty was excited to see us. Doggie was excited to have someone to (sort of) play with. It was an exciting time. I spent three hours at the grocery store to restock the refrigerator and pantry. The Boy is back at his friend’s house. The Gaggle are still sleeping until noon or later. Everyone is adjusting to life back home.

My new book, “Down in the Farm” is now available on Apple Books.

Reflections of Another Baseball Season

“The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings…”

Seasons inevitably change. Things come and go. That’s life. That’s the way it is. The end of one thing and the beginning of another gives us the chance to reflect on what was and what may follow.

The weather continues to get warmer and the school year is winding down. Both are reasons to be happy excited if you are a young man (or young lady). Unfortunately, we recently observed an ending: The end of the baseball season.

Baseballs laying on the grass.

At the level I coached this year, the focus was more on fun and learning than scores, winners, and losers. Therefore, at the end of our 2021 season, I look at the improvements each player made. The Boys of Spring came to me in the cool, damp days of March and April. I did what I could to fix holes in their individual swings and flaws in their fielding and throwing. I kept it as simple and basic as I could. I reminded them to keep their glove down on the ground. I told them to relax at the plate and don’t swing for the fences. Improvements were made during the season and I’m glad to have played a small part during the journey.

Children and adults on the baseball field.
Another deep conversation before resuming the game.

There were also the deep, stimulating conversations we had during the game. These usually consisted of, “I’m tired.” “Can we go home?” “I need water.” “I have to go to the bathroom.” We had eight players on our squad this year. Five or six of them wanted to play first base at once. A simple bunt down the third base line would have meant a sure double. Luckily our opposition wasn’t so baseball-savvy.

One child spent the whole morning asking when we’d be done. I told him we had two more innings. He responded, “NO!” I apologized and quickly amended it to three. Apparently, this was not the answer he was looking for either. Another was excited to learn we share the same birthday month. We are now officially “Birthday Twins”.

The complaint department handled grievances regarding the lineup. I always tried to make sure the same person didn’t hit first or last every time. Occasionally, one or two of the players would try to change the lineup. By “change”, I mean write his name down and no one else’s. Other methods of altering the lineup included running to the dugout and being the first to get his helmet and bat thereby superseding the written lineup. I called Rob Manfred to make sure this was indeed a rule. I’m still waiting for confirmation.

There were displays of strength such as boys seeing if they could throw the ball over the fence instead of at the intended target. There were boys running away from the ball. This was when I reminded them they had a glove to protect them. There were two runners on a base. I reminded them it was one at a time. The boys told me about school and Pokémon. I told them about Mel Ott and George Brett. I traded stories of school with the children and bourbon and scotch tips with my assistant coaches.

It was a season of fun and learning. We taught baseball and smoothed over bruised egos. I hope the children enjoyed themselves. Thanks to my assistants D and R for their help. Thank you to C, D, J, J, L, M, R, and W for their (unending) feedback on my coaching and showing me the ways I can improve upon myself.

And I think I inadvertently hit two or three batters. Sorry about that.

Players lined up at home plate after a game.
Waving good-bye to another baseball season.