Monday, April 13, 2015

Basketball Diaries

There are first times for everything, but what first is quite as exciting as the first game you catch with your kids? I'm a baseball guy, and a baseball game with my kids is the holy grail of firsts for me. However, when opportunity knocks, I'm more than happy to open the door.

And that was the case last night. After working so hard to raise money for Jump Rope for Heart, Godzilla was given a voucher for an Indiana Pacers game. He had a choice of a few different nights, and was really excited to get to go. Unfortunately, my work schedule got complicated, and we waited a little too long to find tickets and were unable to get to any of the games available with his voucher. He was so proud of his work and of earning the tickets that we weren't going to break his heart and not take him to a game, so instead of buying one ticket to go with his free one, we picked up two and made our plan to see the Pacers take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.

As the day approached, we talked about it more and more, until Sunday morning came and he was ready to go! Of course, if you're excited to go to a basketball game, you have to warm up for it, as he pointed out before lunch.

As game time approached, we made our way down to downtown Indianapolis and Banker's Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers. It's not a bad drive from our house, and we were quickly inside, tickets scanned and walking the concourse to take it all in. We found a shop and picked up a foam finger right away, but only after he sat down at a table with two Pace-Mates (The Pacer's cheerleaders) to design his own sign to hold up during the game featuring a "Pacers #1" hand. A short distance further down the tunnel was another table set up with "Pacers Plinko." We won a Pacers chip-clip, and Godzilla thought even that was pretty cool. Add in a couple pizzas, and a souvenir cup, and we were ready to find our seats.

As we found our section, I also found a Sun King Brewery stand. It's one of the perks of living in such a great craft beer town, and I didn't mind paying ballpark beer prices for a cup of Wee Mac. Just after grabbing that, an usher came up and offered Godzilla and I two seats on the suite level, a big upgrade from where we were going to sit, and we happily accepted, thanking him as we made our way with all our loot down to our new seats. We had a great view of the floor, and a few minutes to take in the jumbotron and lights and all the activity going on around the stadium before they dropped the lights for player introductions.

Eventually, we saw the cotton candy guy come down the aisle, and with eyes as big as the stadium itself, Godzilla looked up at me as if afraid to ask for more. I gave him a simple nod, and his eyes got even bigger still.

Not having been to a game before, and knowing how he can be if we put on a movie at home, I didn't have any expectations beyond halftime. He was so into cheering, and seeing all the action, and eating all the food that I couldn't have taken him from his seat before the final buzzer if I had wanted to. With everything going on, the halftime show ended up being one of his favorite parts of the night. We took a quick bathroom break as the first half ended, and quickly made it back to see a guy rolling around the court inside a large circular frame. He twisted and turned inside the frame, performing acrobatics in and around it as it rolled. Godzilla kept looking up at me saying "How is he DOING that?!"

When the action started back up, the Pacers had a five-point lead, and held onto it into the fourth quarter, but the score stayed close the whole game. While Russell Westbrook was shooting at every opportunity, he missed a lot. Still, he managed to put up 54 points by the end of the game, and even Pacers fans were cheering his efforts, as the stadium recognized what a stat line he was building. It didn't hurt that as the season is wrapping up, his name is being tossed around for MVP and scoring champion. Sure, he was wildly inefficient (54 points on 43 shots) and the Pacers starting five had 85 points on 47 shots, it was still something to see, and probably the most memorable part of the game.

When the clock finally ticked to zero, and the crowd began to file out of their seats, Godzilla got up and moved closer to the rail to get another view of the wonder laid out in front of him. He noticed the cameras on the court with the grips pulling cables behind them. He pointed out the mascot whenever he came out. He asked questions about the game throughout the night, inquired about the refs and the guys who came out to clean the floor whenever a player fell. He just took it all in, and talked my ear off as we too climbed our way up the steps back to the concourse, waving his finger and filling in the silence between with chants of "number one" and "Pacers, Pacers, Pacers" under his breath.

I hadn't planned on creating a Pacers fan when we committed to going to the game, but when the first words out of his mouth when I woke him up this morning were "Pacers number one", I knew the experience had given birth to one anyway.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Jumping Rope for Ducks

Godzilla just started at a new school, after we uprooted the family and moved to a new city. One of the first things he came home with from his new class, was a donation kit for Jump Rope for Heart. He walked in to the house so very excited about getting on with the fundraising. No small part of his excitement stemmed from the fact that he could earn amazing prizes at different levels for funds raised. The biggest draw were these little rubber ducks. The joy on his face as he told me all about which ducks he wanted shone like the sun. "Look at this one Dad! It's called splatter duck, because it looks like he's all splattered with paint!" and "I really want this one, because it looks like he's a super spy!" Words spilled out of his mouth at a rate I rarely hear, and this kid can talk!

He also told me about how he was working out in gym class to learn about heart health and how important it is to stay active through the Jump Rope for Heart campagn. This is where I began to get impressed with his excitement for Jump Rope for Heart.

Monday, January 12, 2015

It's a Dog's Life

When Kate and I started dating we often talked of what our future life might hold, as young kids in love often do. Our daydreams included kids, and cars, and a house, and a dog... many of the normal things you plan to have when you're older and mature and free to do as you please. As we made our life together, we've slowly worked on each of those goals, meeting them with varying degrees of success.

Our first child arrived in 2004 and our lives were instantly changed forever. Our eyes were opened. Nat was adorable. She was our pride and joy. She was our little drama queen. She was a nightmare to put to sleep.

We worked through those issues, and in 2008 moved on to our second child. Godzilla was my handsome mister. He was my heir. He was the reason the world turned upside down as far as his sister was concerned.

Two kids down and we went looking for a house. 2009 brought it to us, and while it is not the house of our teenage dreams, we have made it our home.

And once we had our home... we could finally get the dog we always wanted.

Enter Aurora.

Isn't she sweet?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Stuff My Kids Say XIV

"I have two hypothesiseses (that one kind of got away from him) about my sister:

1. She will turn into a really nice person who is not annoying and likes me.

- or -

2. She will be more annoying and ignore me even more than she already does."

     - Godzilla, age 6.

Somehow, even at the age of six, this kid summed up the relationship he'll have with his sister over next 20 years pretty expertly. Of course, option two will come well before option one, but eventually she'll get there. I think most of us do. Sometimes it amazes me, the clarity of youth.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wonder Woman Duct Tape Boots

My daughter has wanted to dress up as Wonder Woman for Halloween for years. Somehow though, we have never gotten her the costume to do it. She has had Supergirl outfits, every princess dress ever, capes, crowns, and magic wands, but every time we approach October, her focus drifts off of Wonder Woman, and she latches onto another costume. As a result, we've just never made her Amazonian dreams come true.

Until this year.

Halloween Costume

We nearly got sidetracked this fall too, as it has been the year of the dragon for her. Witches, Red Riding Hood, princess', and butterflies I could do, but constructing a dragon costume on a shoestring budget was not going to happen. Ultimately, we found this great Wonder Woman nightgown to use as the base of her costume, she had a crown already from a cereal box DC promotion earlier this year. All we were missing was the boots.

Do a quick search for red leather knee-high boots in women's size 9. I can wait (just don't lose this page!) My results came back with anywhere from $35 - $100! That kind of goes against the idea of costuming on a budget. So naturally, I turned to Pinterest. What? We might not be as well represented, but dads can use Pinterest too. One post turned up again and again on making duct tape boots, and that served as the foundation for Nat's footwear. However, the tutorial was for Musketeer boots, which had a little different styling than Wonder Woman, so I had to make some adjustments.

At their base, you'll need a pair of shoes, a pair of old tall socks, colored duct tape, and optional card stock to help form the leg/peak on your Wonder Woman boots.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Oh Captain, My Captain

I think it's confession time.

We have a bit of a superhero problem in this house.

It's not uncommon for us to be invaded by Superman, the Flash, random Avengers, Wonder Woman, etc. As a result, our closet has no shortage of costumes for the kids to dress up in (and me from time to time, if we're being honest). The kids have all the action figures, we've seen all the shows (Netflix has proven invaluable with all the cartoons the kids have had access to.) Free Comic Book Day is an annual outing, both the older kids have their favorites. Santa would in fact get hate mail from our address if he didn't provide a little superhero fix on December 25th.

I don't think there is anything wrong with our obsession, mind you. I love the idea of superheroes. They show us a better version of ourselves. They provide an example to aspire to, even if we will never be able to fly or shoot webs from our wrists, or compel the truth from someone by throwing a lasso around them. They vanquish evil, stand up for the weak, and affect change in those around them.

So, we play dress up. We imagine. We let the worlds of Marvel and the DC universe overtake our living room. And soon, the two boys and their heroes will be moving into the same bedroom. A room overrun with mutants and aliens and defenders of truth and justice is exactly what Godzilla wants, and exactly what he wants to share with his baby brother.

A superhero themed room though needs superheroes to fill the walls, so who should go up first, but the first of them all. Action Comics #1 staring Godzilla as the Man of Steel. Maybe you remember it, maybe you don't (go ahead, take a look, he makes a good Superman). The second thing will be the other iconic American hero, Captain America. And what more iconic image of Cap is there than the cover Jack Kirby and Stan Lee put together after JFK's assassination. While this cover may not be as recognizable as AC1, It is one of Marvel's most important.  It was a story of a man out of time who represented the strength of democracy and perseverance. It showed that we can overcome our trials based on our will power and conviction, and that is a message I want my kids to learn. Who wouldn't want to embody such a message? Combine Captain America with Iron Man, Thor, Ant Man, and Wasp, and you have the perfect template to base another anchor to the boy's room.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Stuff My Kids Say XIII

"In 10 or 12 seconds or minutes they'll be thawed."
     - Godzilla, age 5.

The poor kid is just waiting for a frozen sandwich to thaw, but he can't quite work out the math of how time works. We'll be starting kindergarten in a manner of weeks, and it looks like Kate and I have some work to do! Time can be a tricky thing though, especially when as parents we're quick to say "You have five minutes left" and then promptly forget to set a timer. Those five minutes might take 30 one day and two the next, as our only time-keeper is how badly we want the activity to either end or continue.

Perhaps he's just embracing his inner Doctor Who, and time, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint is more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.

Either way, it makes a difference if it's minutes or seconds, and it's about time we helped him work that out!