Flag Day

Flag Day

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Who's On First? A Guide to T-Ball

Ready at first base!
I got to watch the Mariners play ball on June 11. No, I wasn't in Seattle. These Mariners were stars of a t-ball game in Manhattan. No, not the Big Apple either. We were visiting the Little Apple.

But it was better than a pro game in my book. (However, the weather in Seattle might be more to my liking. The temperatures when the ball was first hit off the tee was still about 95 degrees at 7:30 at night and very humid!).
It was Kinley's second t-ball game. The first week, we'd received a photo of our rookie t-ball girl. By the second game, she and her teammates were practically pros. Well, practically.

Still, from what I remember from 25 years ago when we went through this t-ball stage with our own children, the Mariners are knocking it out of the park ... so to speak. Or maybe I'm just wearing rose-colored Grandma glasses.
Kinley played catcher one inning after some instruction from the coach. She did not get her ability to get down in that stance from Grandma!
Jill reports that the conversation among parents is that girls' teams are easier to coach at this age. In Stafford, the t-ball teams were co-ed.

In Manhattan, they have a girls' league and a boy's league. One experienced dad in the stands lamented that coaching a boy's t-ball team was the most frustrating coaching experience of his life.

For the most part, the Mariners paid close attention. Eric gave me a clue as to the coaching mastermind behind the scenes. At the first practice, one of the coaching moms told every girl to draw a picture in the dirt. Then she said, "That will be your last picture in the dirt on a t-ball field. We're here to play ball!"

It seems to have worked.
Stafford Recreation Yellow Team - 1992
I dug out a column I'd written for The Hutchinson News back in July 1992, Jill's first year in t-ball. She was the same age as Kinley is right now. I thought it would be fun to repeat it here for posterity:

I have been introduced this summer to the toughest spectator sport known to man or mom.

For you uninitiated, I'm talking about t-ball. Our 6-year-old Jill is on the Stafford Recreation Commission Yellow Team. She and her teammates are all still alive and well after four games, despite wildly tossed balls, thrown bats and a 0-4 record.

Confucius was known for his snappy sayings, but he didn't know a thing about t-ball or he wouldn't have neglected this vital bit of wisdom, "The kids with gloves on their hands don't run the bases."

Although I am no expert in the baseball knowledge department, I had to impart this bit of wisdom to my daughter during a practice session. She had dutifully tagged second, getting the runner out. But when the next person hit the ball, Jill took off for third base. I called her back with that bit of wisdom.

"That's t-ball," her coach said, laughing.
2018
My sister, Lisa, who has already lived through two t-ballers and has progressed to the "big leagues," said there were two brands of t-ballers - dirt diggers, who most often are little boys, and bird watchers, a more unisex label.

I know firsthand that she is right. On my night to serve as dugout Mom, my responsibility was to keep the children in correct batting order. But I spent more time saying, "Hey, get out of that water unless you want a drink. Coach didn't bring it so you could build roads. Watch the game!"
Rainbow at Jill's first t-ball game - 1992
Bird watchers don't actually have to be watching birds. They could be watching rainbows, which was actually an option at our first game. They could be watching a late arrival to the ball field. But they are usually looking everywhere but at the batter and ball - until it streaks by them to the far reaches of the outfield.
Even the first graders who usually have a little bit better understanding of the game play what I've dubbed the t-ball shuffle. That's when they fight over the ball and in the process, kick it between bases and gloves while the runner advances yet another base.
Parents bring their video cameras, but they are missing the best action. They should filming the stands where the parents are yelling. Usually, it's a word of encouragement, with an occasional moan thrown in under their breath. But as excited as we all get, you would think it was the World Series.
"Kill the ump!" a dad yelled, forgetting where he is until his wife shushes him and says that's not allowed in t-ball.

Those road trips are tough on us parents. The first game was about 30 miles away from our farm. The entire way home was filled with questions from our confused t-baller.

"Mom, who was that guy who stood behind me?" Jill asked.
"Who?" I thought for a second. "Oh, you mean the umpire."
"What's an umpire?"
"He's the guy who says whether you're out or safe."
"What's safe?"
"That's when you get to the base before someone tags you out."
"What's that?"
"That's when the other team touches you with the ball or tags the base before you get there," I said.
Kinley on first base.
I was beginning to think we were going to do this variation of the Abbott and Costello "Who's on first?" routine all night.

"Mom, mom, why did we hit each others' hands?"
"Huh?"
"You know. At the end," Jill persisted.
"Oh, that's to say, 'Good game!' to the other team and to be good sports."
"What a good sport?"

That's when a mother continues to answer question after question on the ride home from a t-ball game.

There have been some moments that have been worthy of replays - like the time our pitcher actually caught the batted ball. Parents were excited and so was the pitcher after she figured out the ball was in her mitt, not rolling around on the ground.

There were some spectacular slides. However, these were into wet grass and mud puddles, not bases.

They have actually improved. But we've got to remember they're rookies. I know how that feels.

It doesn't happen only to t-ballers. It also happens to farm wives on their first trip to the ASCS office. I got to sign up for a new CRP bid while Randy was back home on the combine.

It was like they were speaking a foreign language. I could related to Jill's questions about umpires and tagging, after hearing such foreign phrases as "highly erodible land conservation," "wetland conservation" 156EZ," "AD-1026" and on and on on on.

Even with my cheat sheet, I was out of my league. And, of course, Randy had forgotten to tell me something I just had to know.

It was like a trip to the parts store. They always forget to tell you something vital and you're invariably out of business-band radio range when you need to ask a question. (Now, there's a flash from the past: This was written before cell phones!)

"What basis does he want this off of?" Katie, the CRP expert, asked.
"What? I thought were were talking CRP, not t-ball," I muttered under my breath.

The people at the ASCS office were really nice. They can spot a rookie a mile away.

"I could explain it all to you if you'd like," one said.

I think I'll stick with t-ball. Thanks anyway.
After the 2nd game!
***
Note - I can NOT believe I found photos from Jill's first t-ball season. Even though they aren't great photos, I included a few here. After I found them, I just had to use them! Oh how I wish all the photos were organized! As I've told my kids, if you want the story of your life, you'll have to dig through plastic storage tubs. It would have been nice if blogging were a thing back then. But, if you read the At Home with Column from The Hutchinson News from 1992, cell phones weren't even part of regular life back then!
 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I Won't Worry 'Bout a Thing (And Other Harvest Lies)


Free like a bird in the big blue sky 
Not a cloud or a care for a million miles
I won't worry, worry 'bout a thing.

God loves me and He loved me first
He rescued me when I was in a lurch
And I won’t worry, worry about a thing.

To the left I’ll fly, fly, fly
To the right, I’ll glide, glide, glide.
No, and I won't worry, worry 'bout a thing!
Gonna scoop down low, low, low
Gonna soar up high, high, high.
And I won’t worry, worry about a thing.

 ***
I've chosen an unlikely theme song for harvest this year. Or maybe it chose me.

I have been singing snippets of the catchy, Calypso-style tune ever since I heard it at Kinley's VBS program June 10. This past weekend, two little harvest helpers sang with me and even added in the actions during a trip to the grocery store for more harvest supplies.
"No, Grandma! It's like this," Brooke insisted when I didn't comply and do the actions, too.

It's a great message. But, if I'm honest, I've had a little more trouble actually believing it.

I'm in good company.
 
On the Monday after a fun-filled week of VBS, when Kinley was hesitant about returning to day camp, I asked her, "Don't you remember that song? The one that talked about letting your worries fly, fly, fly away?" She just looked at me with sleepy eyes, but maybe she'll remember the next time she's anxious.
 
I'm great at giving advice about not worrying. But then we got home from Manhattan.

Randy went to the combine to do a test cut to see if we could get Wheat Harvest 2018 underway (way back on June 12). I thought I'd get a phone call from him, telling me it was a "go" or "no go." But I didn't expect the one I got.

"Well, we've had a disaster," he said.
My stomach clinched, and my heart went into my throat.

"A raccoon went through the radiator, the fan and the belts," he said, the frustration practically making the phone lines quiver.

"Can I do anything?" I asked
"No, I've been on the phone to Case, and I'm waiting for someone to call me back."

So what did I do? I worried. I asked God, "Why?" And I worried some more.

Maybe I should have had a week of VBS ... especially if the theme was Shipwrecked: Rescued by Jesus.

Though we're in landlocked Kansas, I needed my own sea rescue ... in a sea of amber waves of grain without a way to harvest it.



Thankfully, Case had all the parts. They spent all day on Wednesday, June 13, fixing the combine. It was a humid day, and we would have had to start late and quit early if we'd gotten to cut at all, making my farmer a little more relaxed than he'd have been otherwise.

We got a call about 7 o'clock that evening, saying that by the time we got to Hutchinson, the combine would be ready to go.

I would like to say I quit worrying then. I know the Bible says not to worry. However, knowing it and practicing it are two different things. There had already been two fatality accidents on Kansas highways that day. What if someone wasn't paying attention to the flashing lights on our slow-moving vehicle and crashed into Randy?
What if? What if? What if? My mind could come up with plenty of disaster scenarios.
After a few miles on busy U.S Highway 50 into the setting sun, Randy turned off onto country roads. Two hours later, he called me to pick him up at the field. He was home. None of the "shipwreck" imaginings actually happened. I said a "thank You" prayer and may have hummed that VBS song under my breath yet again.
We started cutting wheat on Flag Day June 14. Or so we thought.
It took awhile for Randy to get the combine adjusted. He was rolling ... and then, there was another breakdown ... and another call to Case.

Jill and Eric and the girls had planned to come out for a harvest weekend. We warned them that things were not in full swing, but they decided to come anyway. Though the rides had more stops and starts than a trip down a traffic-light-littered Main Street, they did a little riding.
And then we shared our bad luck with them. Randy has been excited to take the girls to a neighbor's enchanted forest he's constructed in a shelterbelt. Randy even started his own mini version across the road from our house (more on that later). However, the early Saturday morning walk had an unexpected encounter with all kinds of wildlife. A deer dashing and crashing through the shelterbelt sent Kinley running into her mom's arms.
And then, when we were almost to the end of the path, we made our acquaintance with a skunk. Brooke got the worst of it, but Kinley and I also had to take our turns ridding our bodies of the stink. Jill had a whiff of it, too, where she'd picked up Brooke to carry her after the "incident."

For the record, tomato juice is not the best skunk deodorizer. Hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and Dawn dishwashing soap are our recommendation. Thankfully, most of the odor was below the knees. After repeated scrubbings (and about an hour and a half later), we were deemed odor-free.
Since I did not get a photo of our wildlife adventures, Kinley drew a picture of our enchanted forest encounter. (Click on the photo to make it bigger and see the detail.) I hope we are not forever known as the smelly grandparents.

It literally took until the evening of June 16 to get the combine running correctly. Both Randy and I are dreading the bill from Case. The repair guy has practically become part of the family, he was out at our farm so often in the past week.
The other Randy, the Case repair guy, joined us for a harvest picnic Saturday evening. (He was offered meals at other times, too, but that was the first time he accepted the invitation.)
I think the girls enjoyed the picnic more than the guys, who were at peak frustration by that time.
Randy got the perfect Father's Day gift on Sunday, June 17. It was literally our first full day of cutting since our first attempt on Tuesday.
Bottom photos are by Kinley and Brooke
He had some good helpers before they left to drive back home. (And to stop on the way home for new tennis shoes for Brooke, whose shoes had a pungent reminder of her trip to the farm.)
The girls were the perfect antidote to a frustrated farmer.
Before the ill-fated walk in the "Enchanted" forest.
They love the kitties just as much as Grandpa does.
 
They got to encounter less smelly wildlife in our hired man's vegetable garden on Sunday before church. Bunnies are definitely better than skunks!
They soared on the backyard swing, where Brooke - our little daredevil - was delighted with "under doggies" and "touching the sky."
I really have that had the "don't worry" song as an "earworm" for a week now. And I think it was probably a good thing - even when I don't always successfully follow its message. Maybe I should get the CD. The theme song says:
Through every storm of life
I know You’re by my side.
So I am holding on to Your promises
You are the God who holds
My future, all my dreams
So I am holding on
You’ll never let go of me.
 We hope it's smoother sailing this week!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Kansas Staycation: Sternberg Museum of Natural History

A note of explanation: This is the final post (for now) in a Kansas Staycation series. We met Jill's family in Hays during spring break and went to the Blue Sky Miniature Horse Ranch (click here for that blog post) and the Sternberg Museum. We ate lunch at Gella's Diner and Lb. Brewing Company, Hays, which we would highly recommend.  Though I'm slow to post it, I thought it fit the Staycation theme. And I hope these stories in rhyme will be something that our granddaughters will treasure some day.

***
The Sternberg Museum is under a dome.
It gave us a place to explore and to roam.

This dino, it towers way up in the air.
Walking on by it can give you a scare!
It's just one amazing thing that you'll see.
If you go and you learn about natural hist'ry!
The Sternberg Museum is the dino's home. 
He and his friends really don't roam.
Neither do these creatures way up in the air.
The sights and the sounds ...  Oh my! I declare!
Once these big creatures did roam 'round the earth.
The museum shows us their height and their girth.
While we think Grandpa is really quite tall.
Up by this mammoth, he's not big at all!
 
One favorite place was a fossil dig pit.
Uncovering fossils: We just couldn't quit! 
Using our brushes, we took off the sand
Discovering treasures: It surely was grand!
There was only one problem that we could see.
All of that sand stuck to feet and to me!
 
Before we left this magical site
We covered them up so more kids could delight!
The Kids Discovery Center had us climbing a skull
None of this place could be called dull!
The skull was said to belong to a whale.
It sure was gigantic and of a big scale!
In discovery room, we discovered some snakes.
We were sure hoping the glass wouldn't break!
Onto a big spider, our Brooke she did climb.
Kinley ran out the door and didn't take time.
The museum is famed for a fish in a fish.
We wanted to see it: That was our wish.
The unusual fossil was found in our state. 
Getting swallowed by big fish was the little fish fate.
While those old fishes, they were not alive.
A turtle in another display: He did thrive!
He kind of moved slow. He sure wasn't fast. 
Our time at the Sternberg was surely a blast!

Dad wanted to read all of the displays.
But two little girls were ready to go on their ways.
 We will just have to go back there again.
We just don't know the time or the when.

 We just scratched the surface. There's more to be seen.
Going to Hays is really quite keen!
Before we took off and drove toward our homes
It was to a small park where our energy roamed.
An old slide was long and a whole lot of fun
We went several times before we were done.
Our time in the city that is known as Hays
Had come to an end at the end of the day.
It's a great spot for a Kansas Staycation.
Try for a low-cost family vacation!

***
Other posts in this Kansas Staycation series include:
Scott City - Part I and Part II
Monument Rocks
Cheyenne Bottoms and the Kansas Wetlands Education Center (On that link, there are posts from Quivira National Wildlife Refuge as well)
Blue Sky Ranch - the Biggest Little Horse Farm in Kansas