Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tryptophan, Chardonnay Turkey and a Soapbox

I was shoveling with my middle one this morning and reflecting a little bit on what I was grateful for.  There were the usual things, my family, my friends and the like, but I also found myself being grateful that we were in a warm home with the prospect of a Thanksgiving feast and not cold, not homeless.  My mind turned to less pleasant things.  The situation in France, the plight of the Syrian migrants and their children, about how many dads out there are watching their kids struggle with far more than navigating a driveway with a shovel.  My normal format for these postings is to look back on a story about my kids and hopefully offer them a little nugget to grab onto later.  Today, as I was thinking about all of the things to be happy about something dawned on me, far too often I am thankful for things that don't happen to me or thankful that I am not walking in someone else's shoes. 

So girls, I'll put this right up front, being thankful for the things that don't happen rather than the things that do isn't the best way to go about it.  Of course you're thankful that you haven't been visited by illness or that you don't live in a place that leaving your home and praying for the good will of others is your last, best option.   To me there are plenty of problems with that thinking, first of all, it creates distance between "you" and "them".  Feeling sorry for someone else makes them an "other".  It's easy to sympathize with someone, but it's much tougher to empathize.  Walking a mile on someone else's shoes puts you in a place where feeling bad for them isn't nearly good enough.  I find that it's also short trip from being glad that you aren't in someone else's shoes to wishing that you were in a different set as well.   What you have compares to some people seems grand, but that same comparison can take you from a "have" to a "have not" in a hurry depending on whose fence you're looking over. 

That all said girls, I'm as guilty as the next guy.  There are things I want for, there are places I wish I was and at the same time, I see people on T.V. and in my life that leave me ecstatic that I am where I am.  It's a hard lesson, and one I imagine I will spend the rest of my life learning. 

Now, if you will afford me a moment to step off my soapbox, We will return soon with booger jokes and funny stories.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Hug the ones closest to you and give a thought to those who no longer are.  Now if you will excuse me, I'm going to sit down with my family, check out Adrienne's Chardonnay turkey and see if the tryptophan myth has legs. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

To Be or Not To Be...It's Not Your Decision

The acting bug runs deep in the Jacobson family.  I myself once portrayed the illustrious Grasshopper #2 in "Once Upon a Clothesline" and theatre goes would have seen an impactful delivery boy in "Come Back Little Sheba", so to say I know a little about acting would be accurate.   I do in fact know very little about acting.  I can't speak for my wife, but I can say honestly, the idea of standing in front of people, projecting lines and emoting, sounds like about as much fun as intestinal flu.    So when Avery came home and said she would be trying out for the school play, my emotions were mixed, part of me thought "wow, what a brave little girl".  I was proud of my shy princess willing to put herself out there.  I was overjoyed to know that the crippling shyness I grew up with has at minimum skipped a generation.  The other half of me thought "ugh, why?". 

When I was growing up, my dad directed plays for local theatre and made sure that there was always a place for his kids in his productions, hence my less-than-starring roles in "Clothesline" and "Sheba".  I was on   I could understand the desire to write a play, but not any instinct to star in one. 
stage just long enough to know that I didn't like it and that I came off about as natural as John Boehner's Tan.

Avery, however, seems to enjoy public speaking and was really excited when the play was announced.  She memorized her little monologue and went off to school ready to perform.  She was trying out for "Twinkle" in the school production "Reach for the Stars".  It hasn't made the silver screen yet, so many readers may not yet know about this highbrow gem. 

Long story short, she didn't get the part.  In an unfortunate turn of events, the part went to one of her best friends.  What she failed to disclose to us as she was sobbing into her pillow, is that she did get one of the better parts, she just didn't get the one she wanted.  We consoled her with a family night of a movie and popcorn but I was left with mixed emotions. 

So the take away, girls, as indefinite is it sounds is this: it's great to try to achieve everything you want, but sometimes you need to revel in what you achieve.   There is victory in the effort.  This past summer I ran my first marathon.  I trained, I pushed myself, I endured and in the end I came in substantially behind time I had set as a goal.  During the last few miles I was very down and was beating myself up pretty good.  My sister was kind enough to run the last mile with me and was very supportive but truth be told, I was fairly upset.  "Six months of training in the shitter" I thought to myself as I continually looked down at my GPS watch.  I finished, sat on a curb, beat up physically and pretty worn emotionally.  My family was there, full of smiles and congratulations.  I sat there for a few minutes, more because my legs didn't work than any introspection, and finally gave myself the proverbial pat on the back.  A few years prior, I was far more likely to be found in a donut shop than a marathon, and I had worked hard.  The "try" meant a lot, not everything, but a lot.  Same to you, Avery.  You practiced, you rehearsed, and you won in some way.  If the next play rolls around and you think you didn't try hard enough last time, than try harder, but give yourself the credit for the effort.  Break a leg, sweetheart, turns out I felt like I did during the marathon. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Not one, not two, but three girls sick in the house.  That wouldn't be that weird, but it's three girls down with three different illnesses.   Avery is in the grips of RSV.  I don't know exactly what it stands for but in loose medical terms, it's Really Shitty Virus.  Macy has come across a viral chest infection which may have been on its way to RSV had it not been nabbed early and Darby has a UTI.  I will not make up an acronym for that due to location of its onset. 

The wife and I have been up since 1:30 in the morning and the prospect of sleep seems an ever moving horizon.  Adrienne has already taken a barf bath more than once today and I have done something I rarely do...consider myself fortunate to leave the family and go off to work this morning. 

There are a couple of silver linings, specifically two of them as a matter of fact.   My girls sat and watched both Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back today while couch ridden.   Luke and Leia and Han and Chewie were the chicken soup that I was unable to provide today.  It's a deviation from the point of this post but it is very gratifying to see the girls grab onto something I loved as a kid.  I would love to bask in the warm glow of my kids and light sabers but this post is more about their illnesses than the Force. 

There is Ibuprofen and antibiotics and something called a 'nebulizer' (which incidentally sounds right out of Star Wars to me) and noodle soup and blankets and barf buckets and Kleenex.  There's coughing and crying and mucus and stink.  There is not a surface in this house that will not require sanitizing and perhaps a de-boogering (sp).  On top of all of that there is the complete inability to hold a tangent thought as sleep deprivation has rendered me a typing chimp. 

So in that my poor sick girls, here is the food for thought, keep it down if you can.  There has never been a time in your life where your puke, your boogers, your poop, your whatever is something that mommy and daddy will walk away from.  There is no sleep you can cost us and no germs you can be covered with that will keep mommy and daddy from holding you.  You can have mommy's lap or my side of the bed, whatever it takes to make you feel better.  That is saying something coming from us.  Mommy loves her sleep and daddy, well, he gets grossed out really easily.  So feel better girlies, but feel free to crawl into our bed if you need to.  Mommy doesn't need any beauty sleep anyhow.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Coach C or not Coach C...That is the Question - Part 2, The Tigers Edition

Earlier in the year I wrote about whether or not I would coach Darby's soccer team.  I talked about my heart maybe not being in it and the need to work a few more hours a week to help ends meet.  Truth be told, I had a season a few months prior that, because of a variety of reasons, had me questioning whether I could get myself engaged and not just go through the motions.  I decided, or more specifically Darby decided for me, that I would be coaching her team this year so I put on my whistle and hoped for the best. 

Enter the Tigers.  Saturday marked the end of the season for Darby's team and it wound up being one of the most rewarding coaching experiences I've had in any sport.  The Tigers were a great team.  But that statement comes with a caveat.  A "great" team in U5 soccer is not one that scores a phenomenal amount of goals or plays tenacious d. A great U5 team is one that listens a good portion of the time and seems to absorb a small percentage of what is being thrown their way.  A great U5 soccer team become friends as the season goes on and has a group of kids who want to play together on and off the field. 

Every season you have at least one "problem child".  A kid who won't listen,  or a kid who solves their disputes with their hands rather than their words or who cry over almost spilled milk.  Every season there are at least a parent or two that see U5 soccer as a springboard to the Olympics or to a college scholarship and treat it with that amount of seriousness.    Every season, that is, until this season.  Sure there were a couple of kids who didn't keep their eye on the prize while on the field.  Honestly, Darby was one of those kids this season.  She was as likely to be looking for flowers on the field as she was to be looking for the ball.  I recognize something in that kid.  Maybe it's the 8 year old version of myself who picked innumerable dandelions in right field.  The goal of U5 soccer isn't to create great soccer players, it is to show kids what a team environment looks like and hopefully create an experience that has them wanting to try again next season.  The goal of coach, as silly as it may sound, is to help kids who are quiet come out of their little shells a bit and the kids that appear to lack a shell at all, help them learn to reel it in a little when the situation dictates.  If that is the goal, I think this year's team achieved it. 

The point of the story, girls, is this: don't miss out on things you may love because of your own preconceived notions.  I was ready to hang up my whistle for good because of a group of parents a few seasons ago.  Had Darby not talked me out of it, my last experience with coaching would be a season where I wasn't fully committed and where I was ready for the season to be over.  Instead, I wound up coaching a great group of kids and dealt with a great group of parents.  It was a revitalizing experience that I would have missed out on had I listened to the voices in my head instead of the voices at my dining room table.  So thanks Darby, thanks to the 2015 Tigers, thanks to a great group of parents and as always...Gooooo Tigers!