Sunday, September 30, 2012

Best Birthday Party Ever

At least, the best one I've been to that wasn't my own.  For Michael's 11th birthday, we agreed to his request that we take some of his friends to a Giants game.  We bought the tickets several weeks ahead of time, but since the Giants' last weekend home games were the same weekend we were going to select (and because they have sold out every game for the last year), tickets were not easy to come by.  Meaning, in this era of value pricing, the tickets for otherwise unremarkable bleacher seats were a bit more pricey that you would think seats 500 feet from home plate would be.  Any other event involving a bunch of kids for a party would be in the same price range, though, and I knew I would enjoy a ballgame more than a bowling alley or video game truck, so off to the park we went.

Michael made a special sign; we recorded the game on TV, but have not watched it yet all the way through to see if he made it to the broadcast:

I love the classic stylized team name; Michael worked freehand from an old logo 
Sitting in the bleachers at AT&T Park is perfect for 11 year old boys, since it is practically an amusement park at which there also happens to be a live baseball game.  There is a wide plaza with food and picnic tables, and a large slide complex (the boys are not too old yet to think those aren't cool), and downstairs is a batting cage and speed gun for pitching.

They can turn going down slides into a competition

Michael in the cage, ready to smack the ball off the back wall
It was a beautiful, relatively warm evening (i.e., you could get by with only one layer of heavy clothing).

The view out the back of the stadium of the Bay Bridge
Looking up at the back of the scoreboard from the picnic area

We missed most of the middle innings playing on the slides, having dinner, and hitting in the batting cage, but we could track the game on the TV sets that were everywhere within view.  We made it back to our seats for the last few innings, though.

The view from our seats, when we were not chasing the boys around the rest of the stadium
And it was, indeed, a special night:

By chance, the night of Michael's party was the first night the Giants could clinch as champions of the National League West and punch their ticket to the playoffs.  They played exceptionally well over the last six weeks, and clinched their postseason spot at the first opportunity.  I have never been to a professional sporting event that had such meaning attached to it, and it was a blast.  The team played great, a home run was hit into the first rows of our section, and the party lasted for the better part of an hour.  We left the park half an hour after the game ended, and we were among the first to leave.  The cheering went on unabated as we all reveled in the joy and relief of the players as they circulated the stadium to high-five fans and soak up the adulation.  Clubhouse interviews were broadcast on the scoreboard screen, and the mere appearance of any player on the screen brought renewed cheers from the crowd.

The players making their victory lap
It was a historic night to be in the park, and a great occasion for a party.  All of the boys got into the general frenzy of the evening, even though none of them are as rabid Giants fans as Michael.  We could not have scheduled it any better if we had actually planned it that way.

Lots of celebrating in the park, even almost an hour after the game ended
I'm not sure how we will top this

Nose To The Grindstone

We are a month into what we anticipated would be a school year full of work.  We have not been disappointed.  Fifth grade is well-known to be a demanding precursor to middle school, and sophomore year with honors and AP classes is just as challenging as it sounds.

First day of school, August 2012
Michael is doing far more work than he has in prior years, but he is doing very well.  Thanks to our studying sessions, I now also know the capitals of all 50 states.

Kelly is grinding away with several hours of homework every night, but she is doing very well with a heavy load of difficult classes.  She continues to love Spanish and choir, and she is doing great work in her AP European History class that is every bit as involved as a college course.  That class is well-known to be one of the best courses at the school, and one that teaches these kids how to write a college-level essay.  Alegbra II/Trig Honors presents the largest challenge, but with a math tutor already in the house, her prospects for success as the semester goes on are good.  We all may lose a lot of sleep in the interim, but we are going to know a lot more about the quadratic equation and the Defenestration of Prague that we did in August.

We see this for hours every day

Monday, September 24, 2012

It's September; Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

As a society, we trust order, but are not above manipulating our world to match our expectations of what the world ought to be.  We proved that time was not immutable by inventing "daylight savings time.”  By the written order of Congress, the laws of heaven and earth were overcome.  It should require no more than a voice vote and the twitch of a scrivener’s pen, then, to realign the entire calendar to conform with the well-established pattern of our lives.  That this has not yet happened must be a matter of mere oversight.  After all, is there any month of the year more deserving of "New Year" status than September?

Anyone who has children, who has had children, who knows children, or was a child knows instinctively that the new year, in all its many aspects, does not commence in January, but rather in September.  School, sports, marketing of holiday displays at Costco – they all begin in September.  The only beginning January heralds is the long, dull stretch of winter that does not include any festive holidays.  

Even calendar makers recognize the folly of arbitrarily granting January the "new beginning" status it does not deserve.  An increasingly large proportion of calendars found at those ever-popular kiosks in the mall are of the 16-month variety, tacitly acknowledging September's status as the true beginning of the new year.

We live our lives according to this adjustment to the actuarial orthodoxy.  This month, like every September of the past decade, has devolved into a flurry of activity, full schedules, neglected lawns and exhaustion.  We have seen the beginning of the sophomore year in high school and fifth grade, with increased workloads for both, the beginning of the soccer and fall baseball seasons, dust on the trumpet transferred to the videogame machines, and the Giants making another run at the playoffs.
There have been many notable events and pictures to share over the last several weeks.  I've simply been too busy or too lazy tired to share them.  

Yet.  Stay tuned.