Friday, July 26, 2013

No Love for the Soccer Coach

Though he foughtand fought it, Curtis now loves tee ball. He’s already told me he’s going to play again in August…and September…and October…and on and on. (We had to break the bad news that you can’t actually play tee ball in December in Utah.)

I’ve been enjoying tee ball as well. After coaching Curtis’ last soccer team, it’s kind of nice to just sit on the sideline and watch.

I didn’t decide to coach the soccer team because of some burning desire to coach. I just figured it was my turn to help. Coaching 3-5 year olds is no easy task. Especially when 8 of the 11 kids are three-year-old girls who are playing soccer for the first time.

Most of my energy was spent just trying to keep the kids on the field. Here are some typical conversations:

“Teacher,” (a lot of the kids called me teacher) “Can I get a drink?”

“Sure, just remember to come back, okay?”

“Teacher, I want to tell my mom something.”

“Okay, but don’t forget to come back.”

They never came back.

I’d usually start each half with all 11 kids on the field (you’re only supposed to play six at a time) because within the first few minutes, half of them would disappear.

I’m sure I wasn’t the best coach in the world, but I tried hard and I think I did a pretty good job. Apparently, Curtis didn’t agree.

I made it to all of the games but one, which I had to miss for Paige’s first grade graduation. I asked my friend Bert to fill in for me.

He didn’t want to, but I told him I really needed him and all he had to do was show up. The other coach could take care of the rules and the stopwatch and all that stuff. He just needed to keep track of the kids and maybe blow the whistle when the ball went out of bounds.

Through all of the shuffling of getting Curtis to the game and Paige to the graduation, I forgot to give Bert the whistle. Oh, well. He’d be fine.

The graduation was shorter than I anticipated and I was able to make it to Curtis’ game by half-time.

“How’s everything going?” I asked Bert.

“Good. But the other coach is a substitute, too. Neither of us had a stopwatch or even a whistle.”

“Uh, sorry about that.”

After the game, I asked Curtis how Bert was as a coach.

“Good,” he replied.

“How’s dad as a coach?” I asked.


“Well, who’s a better coach, dad or Bert?”


"What?!” I said, louder than I meant to. “Why?”

“Bert didn’t even need a whistle.”

Why'd I forget that stupid whistle?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Old Job, New Job

From my last TV appearance as the SelectHealth media guy

Last week, after six-and-a-half years, I said goodbye to SelectHealth.

And it was really hard.

I didn't grow up having big dreams of working for an insurance company someday. It just happened. Back in 2006, I was happily working at Salt Lake Community College when Traci started job searching for me. (SLCC was a great gig, but it didn't pay very much and I had one of those as-long-as-there's-funding jobs.) To appease my wife, I filled out some applications. I was actually pretty surprised when SelectHealth called me for an interview.

I still remember what I wore for the first interview--a pair of slacks and a dress shirt that I bought at the H&M in London, that I didn't tuck in. Sitting in a room of shirts and ties, I realized I may be a bit under dressed (at the College, I got to wear shorts and flip flops--I thought I was dressed up!). But somehow I got hired anyway.

On my first day, I was introduced to the world of corporate cubicles. I sat at my little desk, surrounded by my three little walls and immediately felt completely alone. In the early afternoon, Traci called me. I hunched over the phone and quietly whispered, "Hello?"

"How's your first day going?"

"Uh, it's okay."

"What? I can't hear you. Why are you whispering."

"I'm in a really tiny cubicle and everyone can hear me."

I was surrounded by strangers who I didn't really want to talk to and who certainly didn't care to talk to me. And it sucked. I wanted to walk right out the door and back to the Community College, where I was happy.

But it got better. And I made friends. And then I made more friends. And more. And I had fun and then LOTS of fun.

Over the years at SelectHealth, in spite of it being a stuffy insurance company, I had the chance to do lots of cool stuff. Like bringing a cartoon tooth to life, and writing and performing a song for a video game (oh, how my coworkers loathed the sounds coming out of my cubicle), and going to galas and sporting events and pretending to be a cook on TV.

Most of all, I made so many great friends. The kind of friends that install your ceiling fan during their lunch break, or fix your car in the freezing cold, or play with your kids at the park, or go see the Twilight movies with you at the dollar theater, or let you sleep in their New York City studio apartment, or who become such an important part of your life.

Saying goodbye to those friends sucks.

When I first told my team that I had accepted a job at CHG, I could barely get the words out of my mouth, I was so choked up. Then, for the three weeks leading up to my last day, I worried about how I'd say goodbye without completely breaking down.

And then the last day came. There happened to be a department-wide training and the office was pretty empty. All of the sudden, I was thinking that I could just sneak out quietly (and tear-free) without anyone even noticing.

But that didn't happen. In the afternoon, I took some boxes out to my car (there's nothing worse than having to make your final exit whilst juggling all of your crap). When I came back, all of my homies were gathered around my desk. They gave me a slow-clap and sang me a somber rendition of the SelectHealth farewell tune "Happy, Happy Last Day" (which is pretty similar to "Happy, Happy Birthday").

And then there were hugs. Lots of wonderful hugs. And well wishes. And goodbyes.

And then it was time to go. Time to move on from the place that was there when we bought our first house, and when we welcomed Curtis into the world, and brought Tate home from the hospital, and experienced all the first years of this parenthood stuff.

Leaving is hard.


I'm now almost a week into my new job. The people have all been nice--when I showed up to my desk the first day, they'd already turned my desk into a makeshift music shrine (complete with pictures of Justin Bieber, Daft Punk, and the Ramones). They took me out to lunch and made me the star of the show. But it's still pretty lonely. It's hard to start over.

Luckily, I know it will get better.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Little Rain Can't Hold Us Down

Remember when I had that wacky idea to explore the wonders of Utah? Yeah, we're still working on that. Yesterday, along with our friends the Bawdens, we headed to Bear Lake for our first Utah adventure of the season (and yes, I know that Bear Lake is mostly in Idaho).

I haven't been to Bear Lake since I went to scout camp at Camp Hunt when I was 12. To earn our cycling merit badge, our troop went on a 50-mile ride around the lake. The only problem? It rained. The. Entire. Eight. Hours.

There must be something with me and Bear Lake and the rain. When we left Salt Lake it was drizzling. By the time we hit Odgen, it was a torrential downpour. When we finally made it to the North Beach, it was still raining.

But after three hours of driving, we couldn't just turn around and go back home. So we put on our swimsuits, put up our canopy,  and prayed for sunshine.

And it came.

Despite some sporadic showers throughout the afternoon, we had beautiful weather for a day on the beach (and enough fun to feed an army).

Here's the proof:

Not only did the kids LOVE it (and get completely worn out--hooray!), but the drive from Logan to Bear Lake was absolutely gorgeous. 

We couldn't have hoped for a better day trip. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Trouble with Kids and Passwords

Got this text from Traci:

"Currently having drama because Curtis made up a password and it's 'Paige stinks.'"

I couldn't help but laugh.

When I talked to Traci a while later I asked her what this password was for anyway (I was thinking it was for the computer or the iPod or something).

"Curtis was putting his leg up to block Paige's way," Traci explained. "He wouldn't let her pass unless she used the password."

That's when I laughed even harder.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Baseball Blues

Curtis hates pretty much everything. Except that he doesn't.

He loves football, for example, but if you say to him, "Hey Curt, do you want to go to the Blaze game?" he'll not only say that he doesn't want to go but rather "I never want to go to the Blaze game. Ever." After being rather stoic about it and then even aggressive (one of his favorite things is to crumple stuff up, like football tickets, right in front of your face in dramatic fashion), he'll usual give in and go. And then have a great time. (Though he'll never let you see him smile.)

He also loves playing baseball. But after hinting around about him playing in the summer tee ball league, we knew that he was not going to participate of his own free will. So we pulled out one of our favorite parenting tools: trickery.

We decided we simply wouldn't tell him that he was playing tee ball until we showed up for his first game. We were about a day away from a winning strategy when our plan was foiled by his cousin and teammate saying, "I'll see you at tee ball tomorrow, Curtis."

We thought he would go into his usual rage. But it was way worse. He started crying. Real tears. Real enormous, heart wrenching tears. He told us he was too scared to play tee ball. And despite our best efforts, he was unconsable.

We finally had him calmed down by bedtime. But then around 10:30 p.m. he came wandering back downstairs. "Dad, I'm scared about tee ball."

"What are you scared about?"

"I'm scared about the pitching."

"Well, it's your lucky day. In tee ball there is no pitching. You just hit it off the tee."

His eyes lit up.

"Well, maybe I'll play tee ball."

By this morning he was 100% onboard. And when we showed up at the field and he saw that his uniform was a Salt Lake Bees hat and t-shirt, he was nearly ecstatic (in a Curtis sort of way).

He played and had a great time. Then the first thing he wanted to do when he got home was to play baseball in the backyard. I happily obliged.

When we were in the backyard he said to me, "Which do you think is my favorite sport, Dad? Soccer or tee ball?"

"Is it tee ball?"

"Yes! But my favorite sports are soccer and tee ball!"

It was a good day to be a sports dad.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

I Still Hate Parades

Even as a kid, I never liked kid stuff. I blame this mostly on the fact that I'm the baby in the family and my closest sister is four years older than me. When other kids my age were watching Disney movies, my teenage sisters were watching Thrashin' and The Lost Boys

I've never liked parades. I think the first time that I went to a parade on purpose was the summer I got married--because Traci loves parades and she made me go. Now I go because my kids love parades and Traci still makes me go. 

The last couple of years Paige has asked me how one gets in the parade. Since my work is in Murray I thought, hey, maybe my work should be in the Murray parade. Then I could take Paige along with me and I'd end up looking like the best dad ever. 

So I proceeded to get everything arranged--including transporting a bunch of GREENbikes across town in a little van on a very sweaty afternoon. There was just one little problem. No one else wanted to be in the parade. (Shockingly), none of my coworkers wanted to come to work at 7:30 in the morning on a holiday.  So there was begging and pleading and promising interns double hours and the like. 

Despite the difficulty, I was sure, it would be worth it when Paige got to be in the parade. 

And then there was another problem. Paige said she didn't want to be in the parade. 

Between the time that I signed up and the day of the event, Paige came to a very important realization. If she was in the parade, she wouldn't be able to catch candy at the parade. In other words, her entire reason for being at the parade would be ruined. Nope. She was not going to go with me. I was on my own. 

I also had a realization. The only thing worse than being at the parade is being in the parade. Our crew consisted of my buddy John Snell driving the van (make note of that name, he's going to become an important part of future posts), Toothy the inflatable tooth, his handler, and three of us on bikes.  

We'd filled our bike basket with tiny basketballs that we could throw out to the crowd. The only problem with that plan was that bratty kids--and their even brattier parents or grandparents--would run all the way out into the middle of the street and say, with outstretched hands, "Can I have a basketball?" 
Um, no. Get out of the street. Even better was when they would reach their hands directly into the basket and try to get the balls themselves. Free stuff always brings out the best of people.

Folks loved Toothy. (And how could they not?) Unfortunately, it's pretty tough for a giant walking tooth to keep up with the procession--especially when kids wanted high fives or parents wanted pictures. At one point, we were quite a ways back from the group ahead of us. An old man parade volunteer on the side of parade shouted at me, "Hurry up. YOU'RE RUINING THE ENTIRE PARADE." Wow. I guess we better hurry up. Except Toothy can't really walk any faster. So we had to shove in the back of the van. We put the pedal to the metal and caught up, thus saving the parade from ruin. Phew. 

My favorite part of the parade was when it was over. My second favorite part was during the last leg of the route when a (possibly drunk) 30-something dude walked right up to me and begged for a basketball. I obliged. He then walked about four feet away from me before drilling me right in the side of the head with the basketball. Nice.

Despite a rough morning, the 4th ended strong. I had a great time a barbecue at my sister's house, watching my kids enjoy being kids.

And for the first time in the history of our little family, we watched the fireworks without anyone crying. God bless America.

Monday, July 01, 2013

"Dad," Tate Says, "I Need My Purse"

We've been trying to teach our kids about money lately. They have little chores assigned to them and we pay them a small allowance. 

But when you're two years old, where do you store all that cash? If you're Tate, your piggy bank isn't good enough. You want a purse, just like your sister Paige. Luckily, helpful Paige had one to share--this  fabulous pink My Little Pony bag. 

Tate loved it. 

The first thing he said was, "Show Grandpa my purse?"

"Of course, buddy. Of course Grandpa will love to see your new purse."

Grandpa did love it. 


On a related note, Curtis finally had the experience of buying something with his own money. He'd been asking me for weeks to download the full version of NBA 2K13 for the iPad. 

"Curtis, it costs $7. Do you want to use $7 of your money to buy it?" 

He thought about it and decided that he'd be willing to open up his piggy bank. He dutifully counted out the $7 and put it in my hand. I set the money on the counter and we downloaded the game (Curtis had quite a few questions about how we would get the money into the iPad).

The next morning, I noticed that the $7 was no longer on the kitchen counter.

"Curtis," I asked. "Do you know what happened to that money?"

"Yes," he replied, matter-of-factly. "I put it back in my bank."

"Why? That money was for your game."

"Yeah, but I decided I wanted to keep my money, too."

He will make a shrewd businessman.