Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Aww Shucks

About 5 years ago I was finishing up the general education credits for my Turf Management degree.

Physical education was part of those GE requirements. I would need to take 2 PE classes. Each class was only 8 weeks, half a semester.

The first class I took was tennis. This would be easy for me. I was the team captain on my tennis team in high school and I played in many competitive events when I was in my twenties.

The class instructor’s name was Wendy. Wendy was more of a personal trainer than a tennis instructor, but it was a beginner class and she had done this enough times that she was able pull it off. After a couple of days she could tell this class would not be very challenging for me. I ended up helping her teach the class. She would often pick my brain for new things to do in class and then we would try them out.

One day we were talking before class,” Hey Tom, do you need to take another PE class?”
“Yeah I was thinking about golf.”
“That’s probably some other sport you already know how to play. Why don’t you be a man and take my yoga class?”
“I don’t know....”
“It is the same time as this tennis class, starting right after these 8 weeks are over. It is always full but I’ll add you anyways.”
“Come on, come to a class that I really know something about.”
“Do very many guys...”
“Hardly any guys take this class. Just good-looking women. You should love it.”
“Don’t be a WUSS. Are you afraid you can’t keep up with a bunch of girls?”
She finally pushed the right button.
“OK, I’m in.”
“You won’t be sorry.”

The 8 weeks following the tennis class were “challenging”. Wendy was a genuine yoga instructor. I think she was teaching a power style of yoga. You had to be flexible, but most of the poses required a lot of balance and strength. She pretty much kicked my butt for 8 weeks, and I showed up everyday for it. And I wasn’t about to complain.

About 2 weeks into the class Wendy made an announcement. She was pregnant.
This would be her third child. She said that she would still be able to teach the class, but that she might have to tone it down a bit. I’m thinking this was my lucky day. Two poses later she was standing on one leg and had the other leg behind her head.

Yoga turned out to be one of my favorite classes, and not just because Wendy didn’t lie about the good-looking women.

The last class I took in college was a nutrition class taught by Wendy. She was well into her pregnancy. I didn’t she would be there at the end of the class. She almost made it. She missed the last day, finals, to have her baby.

I never got the chance to see her again after I graduated. Until...

... Last weekend when the Pink Puppies played the Blue Angels! Wendy’s oldest was playing for the other team. I was sure that was Wendy on the other sideline. She came over after the game with her family to say hello. She laughed and told me she knew I was a coach the moment she met me, and that she had a great time just watching me with the Pink Puppies.

I noticed that her youngest was a little boy and asked, “ Is that the guy who made you miss my last day of school?”
“Why yes it is!” she smiled.
“And what’s his name?”
“What can I say, I’ve always liked guys named Tom.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Raise That Bar

Before the start of my soon to be legendary girls soccer coaching career, the league made all the coaches take a class on coaching soccer to eight year olds.

The instructor was some guy from England who took his soccer very serious. He was about my age but in much better shape. It looked like he still played.

He shared with us about how he has been to
Wembley Stadium to see many great football matches. The San Diego Chargers and the New Orleans Saints will be playing a “real” football game there on the 26th.

I thought he did a great job. I took a lot away from his class.

One thing bothered me though, his expectations for this age group. I thought they were very low. He didn’t think kids this age should bother with the goalkeeper and that if the kids could just dribble the ball and change direction every once in a while the season was a success.

This year the kids are using a goalie. The field they use is much bigger and most penalties will be called except for offsides. They are playing a game with a referee, but nobody is supposed to keep score. Yeah right! Those girls know exactly what the score is.

Last year Alissa played flag football with the boys. I just realized that I never posted anything about that, what a lousy daddy/evil mutant blogger I am. Her coach (coach Weed, that cracks me up) had high expectations for his team. Coach Weed had "high" expectations, I'm killin myself here. He had a playbook that he expected the kids to know, by the end of the season, they did. He didn’t coddle the kids either, he wasn’t psycho football coach, but he was firm and the kids listened when he spoke. And they were a year younger than my Pink Puppies.

So I have taken that into my first season of coaching these little girls too.

I think the Pups are the best-prepared team out there. They know what to do when it is a goal kick, corner kick, or throw in. Our goalkeepers are aggressive and do a good job kicking or throwing the ball back down the field.

Their skills are improving too. They can already dribble and change direction. I’m working on getting them to pass the ball and use their left foot.

The main thing is that the girls have fun, and I think part of having fun is being successful. The Pink Puppies are having fun, and so am I.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lets Be Honest

Someone I consider a good friend revealed to her readers that she was a birth mom. Being an adoptive parent, I can not begin to express the kind of heart I think she has for doing one of the toughest things a woman can do, give a child up for adoption. The reason she shared this information was because the child she gave up for adoption has found her. If you click on the link you will read that mother and child are doing great.

The conditions of my adoption were different. The birth mother of my children did not voluntarily give her kids up. They were taken from her. Despite that lousy situation, I’m pretty sure my kids will be looking up their birth parents.

I’ll be honest, that bothers me. And I’ll be even more honest, it bothers me for a very selfish reason, I don’t want to share. I understand an adoptive child’s curiosity about their birth parents, but it will still hurt when Sarah, Austin or Alissa decide to look them up.

But I shouldn’t be so insecure. The birth parents of my kids are not very appealing. Both dads are in jail and mom is a drug addict.

Hopefully ALL the family involved in the above reunion are better equipped to handle the situation than I will be. I wish them all the very best.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why I Sometimes Feel Old

It has been a very long week. I have just worked an 11-hour day and I have to rush in grab Alissa and go to soccer practice.

Austin is eager to talk to me about something, “Dad, can I tell you about my homework!” “Dude, tell me in 90 minutes,” I said as I walked out the door.

90 minutes later, to the second, I walk through the front door, prepared for excited greetings from dogs and son. The poor dogs had to wait their turn as Austin leapt from the couch with a report in his hand.

It is times like this that I have to take a deep breath and compose myself. My first thought is, “Take a chill pill Austin! I’ve had a long day and just want to veg-out for the rest of the night.” But I know he is just happy dad is home and he wants to share his day with me. He is not much different than the dogs, and I think that’s a good thing. I really love my dogs.

“Dad we did a report on Iraq today!”
“Oh yeah, did you talk about the war?”
“You knew about the war?”
“I heard about it.”
“It started March 20th, 2003”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Did you know that Iraq used to be a place called Mesopotamia?”
“Yes, I did.” Really, I did.
“Oh, is that because it was Mesopotamia when you were a kid?”
Cracks open a beer.

“Yes, Iraq was Mesopotamia when I was a kid.”

Monday, October 13, 2008

Malathionman's Horror Holiday Picks

I don’t know why I never did this before, post Malathionman’s Halloween Movie picks! Who better to know about horror than the evil mutant Malathionman?

When I sat down to think about my recommendations it occurred to me that I could categorize this list in many ways. Vampires (Bram Stoker’s Dracula), werewolves (
Dog Soldiers), and chick flicks (Steel Magnolias) are types of horror movies.

I tried to be less specific.

You may have noticed that I have recommended some foreign movies on the sidebar. I like foreign movies. If I can watch an entire movie in subtitles and enjoy it, it has to be a darn good movie. I do not watch the dubbed versions. Here three of my selections.

Ringu (Japan). Ringu was remade in the U.S. as The Ring, which wasn’t a bad movie. Ringu was a little darker, a little creepier, and no blood, just a good scary movie. It is a little dated with that whole videotape thing. Subtitles.

The Orphanage (Spain). This is probably still a new release in most of your video stores. 30 years later, a woman comes back to the orphanage that she once lived at as a young girl. With her husband and adopted son, she wants to run her own orphanage for special needs children. Like Ringu, this movie has no blood; it’s just a really good ghost story. Subtitles.

Dead Alive (New Zealand). Before there was Lord of the Rings, there was Dead Alive. I think this was Peter Jackson’s second feature film. The blood and guts that are missing in the above movies are in this one, 10 fold. This zombie comedy is one of my favorites. One of my favorite scenes is when the zombies come knocking at the church’s door. The local priest answers and decides to take the Lord’s work into his own hands and feet. He then proceeds to kung fu on hordes of zombies exclaiming, “ I kick-ass for the Lord!”
No subtitles, English.

This is my preferred “Halloween” type movie. Dead Alive definitely falls into this category, but it fit nicely into that foreign film slot. I think horror is better if there is some comedy mixed in to take the edge off; it also makes the comedy funnier, even it isn’t that funny.

Evil Dead 2. This is actually a remake of Evil Dead. Evil Dead wasn’t a bad movie, it was just more of a traditional horror movie. Director Sam Raimi remade Evil Dead with laughs in mind. It has lots of blood and gore, and that famous flying eyeball scene. It also has Bruce Campbell; he appears in many of Rami’s films, very funny guy. Check it out; it makes many must see lists for this genre.

Re-Animator. This is not a movie for everyone, but if you like Dead Alive or Evil Dead 2, you’ll probably like this too. It’s just your typical mad scientist movie. Geeky guy discovers a way to bring dead things back to life. Decapitated and reanimated evil doctor’s body walks around carrying his own head so he can kiss the girl he likes. Great

American Werewolf in London. This movie has genuine scares and laughs. The hospital dream sequence scared the you know what out of me. This movie won an Oscar for make up effects. Still one of the best werewolf transformation scenes and baddest looking werewolves to date.

I tried most of those movies above on my kids and I can safely say yours won’t like them. Here are some movies that most elementary age kids won’t get too freaked out by watching.

Ghostbusters. Classic 80’s movie period.

The Monster Squad. A boys club team up with Frankenstein to battle Dracula, Wolfman, the Mummy, and Gill-Man.

Gremlins. More 80’s more fun. I think monster movies were friendlier in the 80’s. Everything today seems to be pretty shocking.

Bleak Future doesn’t make my list recommendations, but you can rent it! I am a member of Blockbuster Online. While looking for something to rent I was shocked to come across Bleak Future. I am even listed in the cast. So if you are feeling brave, check it out and see the Malathionman in action.

Feel free to throw any of your Halloween favorites my way. Chances are I've seen it and have an opinion on it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pink Puppy Training

Coaching my daughter’s soccer team has been ... different. Any coaching I have done in the past has not been for little girls. I would have used the term “little girl” to motivate teams that I have coached in the past.

Coaching girls is different, but my toughest problem has nothing to do with gender. Amanda and Dorian, the identical twin sisters are my biggest challenge. It is bad enough telling them apart, but these girls are wild animals. Any lapse in action during practice results in hair pulling, cartwheels, or somersaults.

I played soccer in elementary school and all the through high school. I know how to play the game. I also know talent, and these girls are pretty good.

I enjoy coaching, and I really enjoy coaching players.

Besides Alissa, my favorite player is a little girl named Malia. She is the smallest player on the team, but she has big game. It’s not that she has the most talent; she just plays harder than anyone else. Its like she is playing with a chip on her shoulder, trying to make up for her size.

This may sound bad but I do have a least favorite player. I won’t say her name but this sweetheart really pushes my buttons. This pink puppy likes to correct me. I don’t know many adults that like to be corrected by an eight year old.

“Amanda, I want you to take the corner kick.”
“Excuse me coach but that’s Dorian.”
“Is that right Amanda? Are you Dorian?”
Giggle, giggle, giggle, “Yes.”
“Told you.”
“You sure did. Why don’t you go take a lap.”

Monday, October 6, 2008

Longest Month of the Year

The longest month of the year for me is October.

It is the month my golf course closes for over seeding.

What we basically do is dry up all the warm season grass and scalp it to the ground. It is a very dusty job. A lot residents leave town because the grass in the air is too much to handle. I just stock up on allergy medicine and try to stay awake while I’m operating heavy equipment.

We will hopefully have the scalping done in one week. We work dawn till dusk until it is.

Next we reseed the course with about 110,000 lbs. of cool season grass. Another 3 days, dawn til dusk.

That leaves 20 days of worrying about if that seed is going to grow. Waiting for that first sign of life can seem like an eternity. Like waiting for water to boil.

Like waiting for me to post