Sunday, March 28, 2010

Washington D.C.

Last week Aunt Annie took her son, Killian, and 25 percent of my kids (Taylor, Evie & MerriGrace) for a day trip to our nation's capital. That's a benefit to living here -- it's a 2 1/2-hour jaunt up to D.C. The kids and my kid sister had a great time up there. It was a gorgeous spring day in the upper 60s, the cherry blossoms had poked out and they were able to meet a real-live U.S. senator. In this case it was Oregon Republican Greg Walden. Annie has a former volleyball player who is a page for Sen. Walden and Cassidy hooked up my crew, getting them a tour of the Capitol, letting them hang out on the Senate floor to hear some debating and even some personal time with Sen. Walden. My kids sure enjoyed meeting Sen. Walden -- "He's a nice dude," Taylor says. "Real genuine and friendly." -- allowing them to see the words 'politicans' and `snakes' (Or worse!) can be mutually exclusive. I hope Mr. Walden appreciates being known as the "nice senator dude." As you can see, they also toured a bit of D.C., hitting the Vietnam, Korean and World War II war memorials. The ever-present Washington Monument was in the background and they hit the Lincoln Memorial. After Cassidy got off work they treated her to Mexican grub at a restaurant near the Capitol. All in all, good times. Thanks Aunt Annie!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Attack Of The Killer Mantis

I know what you're thinking. You're looking at this photo and saying to yourself, `Dude, how is that rototiller driving itself?' It's pretty amazing, isn't it. Well, the truth is that someone is steering that little two-stroke bad boy, aka a Mantis rototiller. If you look closely, maybe you can see Taylor there manning the Mantis. See? The blond hair ... right there between the big pine tree and fence ... Yeah, you can? Now I know what you're thinking: `Why is Taylor wearing camo jammies?' Well, the truth is that they aren't camo jammies. They're camo, for sure. That's obviously quite obvious. It's a camo getup Taylor wears when he becomes "The Taylorator" during Airsoft battles with his camo upped homeboys out in the Gloucester woods. (For the uninformed, Airsoft is a war-style game using realistic "toy" guns that spit out plastic BB-kind of things. Don the safety glasses, the camo, some tick repellant and you're good to go.) Which has nothing to do with rototilling our little raised bed garden. This photo was taken on Saturday after a long day in the woods battling his buddies in Airsoft. He couldn't wait to get home in the garden. That's my boy.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Signs Of Spring

Timing is everything. Whether you've got a line of kids at the beach all jumping in the air together on the count of 3 (Editor's note: What's the deal with Eli? Author's reply: Obviously he lost count.) or you're swinging for the fences, timing is critical. It's time for spring, we know that. It's been a long, hard winter here in Gloucester and we are more than ready to be outside in shorts, t-shirts and soccer and baseball gear. Well, almost all of us. It's been so cold for soccer practices at the start of the season the kids have been wearing sweatpants. It finally turned warm enough on Thursday that they could wear shorts. Except for Gabe. He came downstairs in sweatpants again right before we had to leave for practice. Someone asked him, "Gabe, where's your shorts?" He grimaced. "They make me look fat," he said. The good news is the diet worked because today he was able to wear his shorts. Just kidding. He did wear shorts today, though. More good news: Gabe and Madeline play on the same team and today their team won on a goal set up by a beautiful assist from Madeline.

Eli and his team played their first game and he scored the winning goal in the final seconds. He's got a big future in soccer. On one play he got an itty bitty shove from one of the players and immediately went to his Jedi warrior playbook because he "fell" with a twisting, flying, hit-the-ground-rolling, the-ref-can't-help-but-blow-the-whistle dive ... it was a very impressive and effective soccer play. Abram's team also won and he scored the first goal of his soccer career. It was pretty exciting stuff. That brings us to Ethan, who wrapped up the Sabo Sporting Day by helping the Gloucester Dukes JV team win 12-3. He had a single and double, scored two runs and stole three bases. All with a black, purple and green left eye. The photo of him up there is when he ripped a double into left center. Let's say his timing was on.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


It's been a tough pre-season of baseball for Ethan. While lifting weights in his strength and conditioning class a few weeks ago something popped in his elbow and he's been fighting soreness. He says it's finally feeling better. Last week he got the flu the day before a pre-season game and although he made it back to school the next day and onto the field -- despite feeling woozy -- he had to sit out the first three innings of the game due to a rule about missing school. And then yesterday happened. During drills while jogging over to pick up a ball a teammate chucked a ball and smacked Ethan above the left eye. It was an accident, but he suffered a mild concussion, though he never blacked out. He was still fairly out of it when I picked him up from practice yesterday. Last night we had to wake him up every two hours to make sure he was coherent. That was crazy. I was barely coherent and somehow I was supposed to discern if he was coherent? Ethan's first official baseball game of his high school career is supposed to be tomorrow. Maybe he'll play if he can see out of his left eye. In the first practice game he was the starting third baseman and batted leadoff. Today he looks like Rocky. Tomorrow hopefully he'll look like a baseball player.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It's Okay To Say `Thunder'

When we moved back to Gloucester last June and were welcomed home by rounds of thunderstorms, Ezra was a very troubled lad. You could not open the door during a thunderstorm, for fear of letting the thunder in the house. He even forbid me from saying the word, "Thunder." As if not saying it meant it didn't exist. We're happy to report Ezra seems to be on the rebound. Or maybe he's maturing. The other day we had our first official thunderstorm. You could hear the rumblings in the sky very clearly. Several times we paused when we heard a roll of thunder. One time I went over to open the door to make sure I was hearing correctly. Ezra was standing right there. Someone mentioned that we shouldn't open the door or else the thunder would come in. I asked Ezra if it was okay to open the door. He just shrugged, as if to say, "Why you askin' me? Thunder doesn't bother me."

He's at a funny stage. He has no problem taking a bath with his brothers and even Olivia and being buck naked, but ask him to change into his pajamas at night or change his clothes and he demands you leave his bedroom so he can have some privacy. In no way, shape or form is it he down with people seeing him in his underwear. He even gets really upset if his brothers walk in on him. I don't quite know how to explain that. On the other hand, he loves to snuggle with Evie and Claire and the other night I understand he got scared and walked into the girls' room in the middle of the night, sat down on the floor and started whimpering. He ended up in Evie's bed. Kids are funny and say and do the darndest things. This morning Olivia was scooting up the stairs and Madeline walked by and gave her a drive-by peck on the cheek. Olivia didn't care for that. "Madwin," she growled, "you say sowwy to me!" Madeline heard that and couldn't help but laugh. Later in the morning Eli asked someone to make him chocolate milk. "And make it really, really good," he said. As if someone makes him really, really bad chocolate milk. Is there even such a thing as really, really bad chocolate milk?

Monday, March 15, 2010

March Madness

It's that time of year again. The sun sits a little higher in the sky, the daffodils are abloom and we've planted the peas. Yes, it's time to fill out the NCAA tournament bracket. It's a family affair and an awful lot of us in the Team Sabo department fill out brackets to see who's the best prognosticator. Or sheer guesser, however you look at it. Last year, for example, Evie almost won our tournament challenge and she admittedly has no clue who's any good in college basketball. A lot of it is a feeling, or a hunch, or whichever team you hit on the dartboard. One year Brenton prepared for March Madness by watching as much basketball as he could for an entire week before the tournament. The dude did not sleep for like a week scouting every team and it paid off because he was killing us for the first two weeks of the tournament. Unfortunately things went downhill for him and, um, I won that year. He still refuses to talk about it.

Taylor is taking a different approach. No dartboards for him. No scouting on ESPN or anything like that. Nope. Taylor has faith. This year he decided to retire to his room to pray over his bracket. He was up there for like an hour. Then he started reading the Bible. He came out and announced that he had just read in Ecclesiastes 9:4: "...a living dog is better than a dead lion." So he went through the bracket and picked all the teams with "Dogs" as mascots. Like Butler and Gonzaga. Any team with a Lion as a mascot ... sorry. You're going down. Then he came across Ecclesiastes 9:11: "The race is not to the swift." So he looked for all of the "swift" teams such as Texas and Villanova. If you're fans of these teams, Taylor has some bad news for you. They're toast. As in burnt toast. He also picked St. Mary's because Mary ministered to the Lord in the gospel of Luke. That's got to count for something, right? Especially come NCAA tournament time. Then he came across Luke 8:30: "But the Pharisees and Lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by Him." You may be wondering what on earth that passage has to do with March Madness. Well, Taylor came up to me and asked which teams have a good law school. "Georgetown," I said. "Why?" Taylor just said, "They're going down." Don't you see the correlation? The lawyers rejected the will of God ... so obviously Georgetown, as a good law school, is going down in the tournament! So Taylor has them losing to Ohio. Talk about an upset. But it's in the Bible!

Ethan just came downstairs and was talking to Taylor about his picks and then Taylor was explaining to him about his picking method this year. How it's Biblically based and all. Ethan stared at him for a really long time. "What percentage are you joking Taylor?" he said. "Do you really think God gave you those picks?" Taylor responded yes. Then Taylor laughed really hard. Ethan looked flustered. "I personally think we should outlaw this type of thing," Ethan said. "Because if he wins, he didn't really win."

I don't know if any of you all who read this blog are familiar with the term "hermeneutics." Essentially good hermeneutics in the context of the Bible is rightly interpreting and handling Scripture. For example, bad hermeneutics would be taking passages of the Bible and twisting them for self-serving purposes. Or foolish purposes. Like when Julie got wind of this newfound method. "You're using the Bible to pick your bracket?" she said to Taylor. "I don't want people to think we're weirdos using the Bible for stupid purposes." A discussion ensued and Taylor explained that he was honest with the Lord and told Him that you probably don't really care about this, but he was going to pray about it and whoever the Lord puts on his heart, that's who he's picking. "All glory to God if I pick right," Taylor said. And what if his picks don't pan out? Taylor laughed. "Well, we'll know who's a false prophet," he said. It's an interesting, entertaining family discussion. At one point Julie looked over at Taylor. "I like that you do everything unto the Lord," she said. "You're sitting down filling out this bracket and bringing the Lord into it. Saying, `OK Lord, here I am sitting down and filling out this bracket. If you want to contribute, go ahead.'" Julie giggled. "Maybe God really does care about your bracket."