Church ball

»  mark    28 Jan 2009 @ 23:30    

Despite the bad press it gets, I enjoy playing basketball with my ward. Last year we had a really good team, tied for first in our stake and went on to regional play. And the funny thing about it is we never practice. Just show up and run around.

Unfortunately, it isn’t always so simple. Tonight, I stayed after ward basketball because they needed a referee for the game after ours, and I didn’t have as good an excuse as the others for not doing it. Oh, that was awful. The hardest part was I kept forgetting to call whose ball it was when it went out of bounds. Most the time I knew, I just forgot the referee has to tell the players. I guess I figured they knew whose ball it was just as much as I did.

Some of the guys were a little nicer when they realized it was my first time ever refereeing. But there was a huge peanut gallery on the stage that was just waiting for this game to end and kept heckling me for only calling fouls on the blue side. I admit I didn’t call all the fouls that took place, but I also didn’t call some that should have been called on the blue side, so I thought that evened it up.

I guess it was a good experience. I’m sure it will be funny to think back on it someday. Perhaps most importantly, I don’t think I’m going to give the volunteer refs at our game any more slack. Those that do it for a living bring that pressure on themselves. Self-inflicted. But the volunteer refs deserve a purple heart or something.

When each letter counts

»  mark    17 Jan 2009 @ 18:59    

I used to love those puzzles where they give you half of the word or clip the bottom half of the letters and you try to guess what is written based on the shapes of the words and the context in the sentence.

Recently, watching Maya read unfamiliar words, I realized how important every letter is in some words. Here are a few things Maya has read recently that have made Olya and me burst out laughing (for hints, follow the links).

Is my cooking that bad?
Maya, seeing the box of grain on the table I am about to cook, asks “Are you making barely soup tonight, Papa?”

One of our favorite authors of children’s books
Maya picks up the new book she got for Christmas and states calmly, “I think I’ll read some hateful Seuss tonight.”

Not quite as scary as fruitcake
Maya in the shopping cart at the store in December points to the shelf and says, “Mama, can we make a dangerbread man?”

The 8-armed orchestra
Maya, helping Grandma sort through our videos and match up cassettes with cases asks, “Have you seen Mr. Holland’s Octopus?”

Looking back on 2008

»  mark    4 Jan 2009 @ 17:50    

Perhaps it seems trite to pause and reflect on this past year, but I’m writing this for me as much as anyone. 2008 was one of those wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey distortions that felt like 12 weeks at times and 12 years others.

Of course the birth of a child always throws a wrench into any carefully made plans for life: for better and worse. I could really do with the expert’s recommendation of 7-8 hours of sleep a night. College may not have been too many years back, but I don’t adjust to sleep deprivation as well as I did then. And as much as we loathe the current schedule, we seem powerless to change it. Just when Anya was starting to get some good stretches in at night (4+ hours), she began teething. Now we’re back to anyone’s guess how she’ll do each night.

Anya makes up for the rude awakenings at night by using her hypnotic charm on Olya and me. Despite our promises that we will not be deceived in the morning, she erases the bad feelings with one of her ear-to-ear grins. It must be a survival tool that babies come with pre-installed.

Elijah and Maya have sure enjoyed getting a bunk bed this year. How ironic. During the day, we can’t get them to play together for 10 minutes without making each other angry or crying. At night, we can’t get them to stop playing. After a couple of experiments when they played 2-3 hours with no sign of tiring, we figured this was not going to correct itself. Things have improved some since we began putting them in separate beds to start the night and then bring them back together after they are both asleep.

Olya has taken up knitting in a big way. Like just about anything she sets her mind to, she has become quite proficient, learning new stitches and patterns from library books and Web sites. During the holidays, she churned out a couple hats, headbands, gloves, and pants for family and friends. I’m sure the kids don’t appreciate the sacrifice to have handmade clothes; I know I didn’t appreciate clothes my mother made for me growing up. But I have a new appreciation for the time and concentration such a skill requires.

Not much new for me this year, other than picking up a solar oven. Wish I had more chances to use it. But for now, I try to be content just “treading water,” a challenging enough task. My mother asked if I could find the photos Olya and I scanned for my grandmother back in 2002-2003. Miraculously, I located them and assembled a CD collection for my mother’s sisters and my immediate family. It felt terrific to tie up this project since it has been on the back-burner for the past 5 years.

Predictions for 2009?
More change. Not sure whether it is self-inflicted or just a result of having small children, but change seems to be all around.

Olya and I extend our love and appreciation to our ever supporting and faithful family and friends. Best wishes for 2009.

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