Saturday, September 26, 2009

I'm A ... Democrat?

The other night I was attending a meeting for a local political candidate who is seeking re-election. I'm not real popular with her crowd due to articles I've written about some actions she and others on the county Board of Supervisors took over the past two years. I counted about 70 people who were there and when she was done with her hour long talk she got a standing ovation from most of her supporters. One older gentleman went up to her and told her how brave she was to get up there and talk. Then the fun began.

Within a few moments about a half-dozen or so of my "fans" were looking for the Daily Press guy. "That would be me," I said. "I'm the Daily Press guy." One fellow got uncomfortably close to me and asked me point-blank if I was going to get up there and apologize. "I've got nothing to apologize for," I said. He asked me again and I gave him the same answer. I stand by the articles I've written. (As a disclaimer, Gloucester has many, many people who are highly appreciative of the articles I've written for the newspaper; just on this particular night there weren't a whole lot of those folks in attendance.)

"You must be a Democrat!" the old codger said. I couldn't help myself and laughed. Apparently all newspaper reporters are Democrats. And I guess that's a bad thing. I just told him I'm no Democrat, but I am a registered Republican. He got this real puzzled look on his face; he was totally stumped. That didn't cool my other critics, though. I took some heat for a while and stood my ground, but that's expected in this line of work. It's funny how people form opinions about me and my character without knowing a thing about me other than what I write. A couple of weeks ago Julie was working on getting Ethan registered for school and was talking to one of the employees of the high school. In the interest of protecting the person's identity, that's as close of a description of the person you'll get. But this person asked Julie if she was related to Matt Sabo from the Daily Press. Julie paused. I know what was going through her head: "Should I answer this?" She said yes and the person said, "You tell Matt we love him." So you see, not everyone thinks I'm a Democrat.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Life And Times

It's officially Fall, in case you haven't noticed. Today it was hard to notice Fall, or Autumn as the hoity-toities might say, has arrived here for a couple of reasons. First of all, upper 80s with killer humidity doth not a fall day make. Secondly, we only had one child involved in a practice, game or other sort of extracurricular activity. This fall we have 3 kids in soccer and one playing baseball. There's Team Sabo kids being run all over this county. Last Saturday we had 3 soccer games spread 2 1/2 hours apart all at the same field 10 miles away. Not to mention a baseball practice for Ethan. It was crazy, in a good sort of way. Abram and Madeline are in their first year of soccer and having a blast and Evie is back on the pitch, cast and all. There are few things I enjoy in life as much as watching the kids play sports. It's just one of those special pleasures, even topping a bowl of ice cream at night after everyone is in the sack.

Last year at this time we had just arrived in Corvallis and none of the kids were in any sports. Shoot, we were still trying to recover from a 3,200-mile cross country trip, moving into a house with another family, a climate change, a culture change and I was adjusting to being jobless and in school. But a few weeks after we arrived we managed to get Ethan and Taylor on the cross country team for Philomath High School and it was my distinct pleasure to be able to help on a few occasions shuttle the team to practices at parks and trails many miles from the school. (The coach saw my 15-passenger van one time and a smile broke out on his face. And boy he tried to convince us many times it was in our best interest to stay another year and let the boys run for him.) Taylor is a talented runner and ended up making varsity after a week or two of running. He was the 4th man on the team and helped the Warriors to a 5th-place finish at state. He has a long stride, endurance and a toughness that runners need to truly be competitive. Ethan never considered himself a runner -- it didn't involve a ball -- but by the time the season ended he was rounding into pretty decent shape. He loved the competition of cross country. One of the beauties of the sport is that no matter where you are in the race, there's always competition -- unless you're way out in front. Someone is chasing you, so you have to keep the pedal down. Someone is ahead of you, so you have to go get him. Ethan liked that competition. He would probably be running cross country for Gloucester High School right now if he didn't love baseball so much and it wasn't offered in the fall as more or less a club sport. But he's learning a new position -- catcher -- and catching on quick. So to speak.

You know what's so cool? I'll be going to games and practices for years. And it will be a seamless transition from my kids to grandkids. I reckon I'll have to take an early retirement just to watch the kids and grandkids.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Where Did She Come From?

Julie and I have 12 children. That still comes as a shock to some people. The other day I was in the doctor's office for treatment of a persistent, irritating, awful, nasty skin rash type leprosy on my hands. I'm fortunate I don't live in Old Testament days, or they would have me holed up underneath a big ol' gum tree down in the woods near Fox Mill swamp rasslin squirrels for acorns and pine seeds and trying to choke one of 'em to make some varmint stew. As it stands, the ol' doc got me on some drugs and the issue seems to be getting resolved. He said I had an allergic reaction to latex. As I was signing forms the lady behind the desk started chatting and subject of "children" came up as she noticed a lad or lass or three or four of mine in the computer system. One thing leads to another and she finds out I have 12 and she just stands there and shakes her head and says, "No you don't." Over and over she kept saying she can't imagine what it must be like in my house.

Well, let me help her out. Let's just take one of our children. Namely Olivia. Just 17 months old, but a terror in the Team Sabo house. We start out at around 7 o'clock in the morning when I find her on the kitchen table eating someone's raisin bran. It's more on her clothes, face and hair than in her belly. I get her cleaned up and a short time later I find her back on the table with someone else's raisin bran. She's just getting warmed up. Over the course of the day I might find her with an ink pen tattooing various of her appendages and cheeks -- with a permanent marker. This morning Julie was relieved that Olivia was doing this with an ink pen that wasn't a permanent marker. Does that make it right?

This afternoon I looked over to find her standing on the piano bench playing the piano -- buck naked from the waist down. She had removed her shorts and her diaper, for reasons that remain unknown to me; perhaps it had something to do with the freedom it presented her to really "feel" the music. Either that or she was grooving so hard to her tune her britches just dropped off. This evening she discovered "Chapstik" and decided it went in her hair. Two nights ago she found one of those soft candle type things and decided to lube up her do. Let's just say the candle wax doesn't exactly come out of hair easily. But then, have you ever tried to get candle wax and Chapstik out of your hair? Didn't think so.

We don't know what to do with this child. Where did we go wrong? Are we bad parents? After 11 kids do we suddenly not know what we're doing anymore? It seems with each child there's something new and unforeseen that we've never experienced before. Eli can throw some raging fits. I mean raging. Ezra has some quirks to his personality that leave me shaking my head. Now Olivia. And that's just for starters. Don't get me started on some of the older ones. Maybe it's just God keeping us sharp. On top of our parenting game, so to speak. Yeah, maybe that's it. Because how else are we going to be prepared for 60 grandchildren -- or more?

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Year Ago

On this date a year ago we woke up in Brentwood, Tenn., where we stayed the night on our trek to Oregon. After we had the Team Sabo Executive Board meeting and some of the kids seemed reluctant to go, the Lord changed their hearts over the course of the following week. Each of them came and told Julie and me that in the course of their Bible reading they had felt the Lord giving them a peace about going. I remember trying to see if there was a way I could keep my job with the Daily Press on a part-time basis -- with a phone and a computer that's about all you need these days -- but that wasn't possible. When we decided to go, it was about three weeks before we had to leave. We had all sorts of little details to wrap up here before we left, but some of the details out in Oregon were a little fuzzy.

It wasn't until we were on the road in southwest Virginia, battling crazed Hokies fans who were trying to get to a football game in Blacksburg, when I understood that our living accommodations had been taken care of. I was talking on the cell phone with a friend in Corvallis with a big house who wanted us to stay with his family and he was talking about all these bunk beds he was tracking down people in the church were giving them. I remember getting off the phone with him and telling Julie, "I think they want us to stay with them the whole time." It turned out to be a huge blessing. I remember a buddy of mine in Oregon asking me before we left what we were going to do about a place to live. I told him I didn't know, but that the Lord would have to take care of that. Then he asked about beds; he seemed to think we would need lots of beds. I didn't have an answer for that, either. The Lord would take care of that, I said. Then he said, what about furniture and pots and pans ... These were all pretty good questions. I didn't have an answer for him. I told him we were going out in faith and that the Lord made it clear that's what He had for us. And God took care of all those details. I think faith is one of those things that God wants us to exercise. How else does our faith grow unless we stretch it?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Birthday Announcements

A typical morning for me involves waking up and asking myself, "Does one of my kids have a birthday today?" It's a good way for me to stretch my brain first thing in the day and try to remember 12 dates that occur throughout the year. Throw in my birthday, Julie's birthday, our anniversary, birthdays for my kin ... not to mention first names and middle names of all the kids, plus other essential facts such as pin numbers, the last time the Angels won the World Series (2002), how many times UCLA has won NCAA hoops championships (11, by far a record) and where in the Bible some young punks were eaten by a bear after they insulted the prophet Elisha by calling him "baldhead" (that would be II Kings 2:23-24; there's a lesson there!)...whew! You can see why I used to tell my fellow students in Cornerstone School of Ministry why it was so much more challenging for me to remember verses and other memorization tasks. I just have so much information in that computer between my ears that there's hardly any more memory space available. I'm going to have to clear some space out, probably by getting rid of some useless information. Julie says I can start by erasing sports-related information...she just doesn't understand.

We've had a run of birthdays this summer that have been neglected to be properly memorialized on the Team Sabo blog. MerriGrace turned 11, Eli turned 5 and Abram turned 10. Claire made and decorated the cakes for MerriGrace and Eli, which you can see turned out to be amazing and very edible creations. Thanks to grandmas and grandpas and Aunt Judy for sending along some dough for them to pick out presents. If I'm not mistaken, we have a break in birthday type events until December. I'd say December 27th to be exact, when Gabe turns 7. Yesterday he asked me how many days until his birthday. He's ready already.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First Day

We are pleased to report that Ethan survived his first day of public school on Tuesday, making it home safely and heading straight for the kitchen. As a teenage boy, he exists in a constant state of hunger. Being at home for school has always meant he could continually graze on the ample supplies in the pantry and fridge without need of a "hall pass" or "teacher permission" or any other such unpractical detriments. Ethan decided to try public school for a couple of reasons. He wanted to play high school sports, but Virginia discriminates against home schoolers by not allowing them to participate in public school activities. This makes absolutely no sense on so many levels. But that's the rule. So in order to play baseball for the high school, Ethan had to actually go to high school. Also, Ethan really sees the school as his mission field. He's a budding evangelist, so look out high schoolers.

We started the day by personally driving him to Gloucester High School. What a zoo. For starters, it was pouring down rain -- we had more than 2 inches fall yesterday -- so I couldn't see making him stand at the bus stop. But as I got fairly close to the high school, there were cars and buses everywhere, traffic was backed up for about a half-mile in front of the school ... craziness. He made it to classes alright but understands now what it's like in a New York subway terminal when gazillions of people are trying to get to work. Gloucester High School has more than 1,600 students, I believe, all crowded together in a jumble of pimply humanity. He was shoulder to shoulder with kids in the halls, sometimes seemingly a salmon trying to fight his upstream. He only got lost once, he said, but miraculously was able to find the classroom without getting late. He saw quite a few of his baseball buddies and said at lunchtime he was sitting alone until three "rednecks" and another dude showed up to keep him company. He said it was an interesting conversation. One of his teachers is a graduate of the University of Miami, which scored a thrilling victory over Florida State in football on Monday night. Ethan scored some points with his teacher when, as he was leaving class, he turned to her and held his hands together to form a `U.' She really liked that. I've always known he's a smart kid.

The best part of the whole day was that he had no homework. The worst part of the day? I imagine it was that he had to get up before breakfast. This is a kid whose school day usually starts no earlier than after the 9 a.m. Sportscenter edition. We suspect the `no homework' days are about to come to a screeching halt. And it will be interesting to see what life is like for him when he can no longer stay up late for Monday Night Football, the MLB playoffs, the World Series and other entertainment options he's been able to enjoy all these years. Today also holds the first day of fall baseball tryouts. At 5:30 this afternoon, he officially becomes a high school athlete.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sunday Morning

Here's something you'll probably get a kick out of. We launched a Sunday morning Bible study in the comfort of the Team Sabo living room. After praying about it for months and seeking the Lord, I felt His leading to start the Bible study. I have no plan, no strategy, no agenda. I don't exactly know what we'll do if people start showing up -- though that's certainly our intention to reach out to the community and invite people to study God's word with us -- so that' is definitely something we're praying about. Since moving to Gloucester 5 1/2 years ago, we've been fellowshipping in churches outside our community. We really felt it was time to fellowship in Gloucester, among our friends our neighbors and the people we meet at the ball fields, in the stores and elsewhere. What really spoke to me recently in my daily Bible reading was a verse from Joshua 18:3: "Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: `How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers has given you?'" There were other verses that really spoke to me but that was just the last confirmation that it was time to step out in faith, to make myself available to be used by Him for His glory.
We will study through the Bible verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book. Taylor led worship and it was sweet and then a couple of our kids helped out with the little kids upstairs, reading a Bible study and doing some crafts. We realized we need a "baby gate" upstairs because at one point as I was teaching the sweet sounds of the piano wafted through the house. It turns out that Olivia had gotten loose and decided it was time for a musical interlude. So you can see that's one of the kinks we have to work out in this "work in progress." I apprecitate your prayers and look forward to seeing what the Lord does with our humble beginnings. I will say attendance was very strong that first morning, with 22 people showing up. Of course, it doesn't hurt that 14 of those live in the "church."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Some Husband

Yesterday was the 19th anniversary of wedded bliss for that delightful couple known as Matt & Julie Sabo. Yes, 19 years ago at a church around the corner from Julie's house in Canby, Ore., we got hitched. I had been in class for about five days of my senior year of college when we got married. We picked that weekend because with Labor Day we had a three-day honeymoon. If I remember correctly we got married at 11 a.m. to give us even more of a head start on the nuptials. We honeymooned at a bed & breakfast in Mt. Vernon, Wash., and spent some time in the San Juan Islands.

Yesterday? Well, I spent most of the morning trying to get Ethan into classes at Gloucester High School. It's not so easy. We had some "issues" transferring his home school credits and the way it ended up, he will open the year on paper as a freshman. A 16-year-old freshman. That means he would graduate a month shy of his 20th birthday. I got married at 21. Just thought I'd point that out. But the high school seems willing to work with us -- he did get credit for a few classes -- and they're going to allow him to accelerate through some courses. But we're such amateurs at this whole public school thing. We went to the open house yesterday and didn't realize we were supposed to bring the checkbook to pay for his gym uniform ($18) and this day planner thing everyone is supposed to have ($5). We got lost in the high school about 20 times but did manage to make it out of there in two hours. Which meant no anniversary dinner for us because I had to go cover a meeting for the newspaper that started at 7 p.m.

Maybe we'll get some sort of date in this weekend. Eli asked me this afternoon if there was somewhere I wanted to take mama for the night. Apparently he wants to spend the night at some friends of ours so he's trying to subtly hint around that we should make ourselves scarce. I'll see what I can do Eli. I have a hankering to go visit Annapolis, Md. Maybe we can make that happen this weekend.