Fun Club!

IMG_0167 On Saturday, Holly bundled up the boys for a swim team training session entitled Fun Club down at the pool.  When she got there, they found out that the class was entirely full! They had to leave.  Sarah Chapel was there with Dylan and she was not happy at all, but Holly didn’t mind to much.  She invited Dylan over to our house to read and then to go to Luke Club!  A newly organized swim time with us and Dylan.

IMG_0171 The boys had a great time at our house and Dylan, who is a 1st grader, showed us how he can read!  Wow.  He is a GREAT reader.  Back when I was a kid, many of the kids I went to school with could not read as well as Dylan even when they were in HS.  It was a real eye-opener to see someone so young be able to read.  I think it was really inspiring for Mark to see one of his friends read so well.  He’s a very hard worker in class and always does his best to listen and do what the teacher wants.

IMG_0178 After playing and reading, it was time for grilled cheese sandwiches, and then off to the pool.  Since Holly had four boys to deal with, I thought I better help her out, so I brought my camera and helped in the way that fathers often help.  I took the older three boys to the men’s room and chased them around the room snapping them with a towel.  Boy, do they squeal with their high little voices..

I’m kidding.

IMG_0174v Of course I would never do that as a father, but that is the type of stuff that often went on in the locker-room when I was a boy in Barrow, Alaska. You had to get good with a towel or you were in trouble. HINT: roll it up along the diagonal, wrap it around your wrist for a handle (so it doesn’t get taken from you when you’re smaller than the older age kids in the locker room), and then wet the very tip so it gives a very intimidating CRACK! when you snap it.  Looking back, I can remember all sorts of “fun” we had in the locker room.  it also helps to have two towels at all times, one rolled up and  ready to go in the locker, and the other one to use for drying.  Also, it helps if you use the longer lighter-weight towel for the “fun” towel and use the thicker towel for drying.

IMG_0192 No, I didn’t do any of that. I was a good example and mainly just helped Luke with his change of clothes in the locker then started the showers for the boys when it was time to get wet.

Near the end.  John Caleb started to shiver a bunch so the life-guard took pity on him and brought out the garden hose with the nice warm water!  Boy was that ever an attraction.  The rest of the kids had to get in there and get warm too, by then and it got a bit crowded around the hose. They were all civil though, and I saw no horseplay and no tears.

We had a good time and took our inaugural trip in the 1990 Mazda MPV that I got recently from Rainbow Glacier Camp.  It now has a driver window and new spark plugs; a new valve cover gasket is on the way, as are new rear struts for the hatchback door at the rear.

For some reason, I like to alternate the photos, one on the right, the next on the left, etc.  Do you think that’s a good way to go?  I know a lot of people don’t really bother to look at the photos anyway, and just read the text, so I think I’ll just stop putting in the text, and make the photos really big.  That’ way, people will be forced to look at the photos.

That’s a joke.

First day after Spring Break: Huge Pep Rally!

This is a four day week at school with early dismissal each day.  a very busy week.  The sun is shining down on us here in Haines, both literally and figuratively. 

(Stay tuned for some YouTube video documentary footage shot by Jeremy Strong.)

At 1IMG_15451 AM we had a HUGE pep rally.  We got out the pep band, called in anyone from town that wanted to come, and really did it up right.  We’re proud of our boys.

A ton of people were there from around town plus all the students in the k-12 school.  We heard from the former Superintendents via email: Woody Wilson and Charlie Jones.  Ray Chapin spoke, as did Cheryl Stickler, and Doug Olerud read a proclamation by the Mayor, who gave the boys team the keys to the city.

IMG_1343 cropIn essence, we were celebrating the success our basketball team has had by sticking  with their basic philosophy: no matter what the score is, never, never, never give up.  IMG_1439 This has been their approach to all their games and it has served them well. 

It’s a great philosophy to have in life and will serve you well, providing you’ve done the ground work and prepared yourself for trial at hand and it’s one of the essential ingredients to success

But it’s not the only thing that needs to happen: talent, vision, practice, hard work, proper personnel, being in the right place at the right time, and attitude all play a huge role and all contribute to mental and physical readiness.

IMG_1429 cropIMG_1371 cropI really can’t say enough about the basketball team’s performance at state.  They did what it took to get the job done. 

First, we were glad that they even made it to state, because they were not expected, by many, to beat Wrangell, as they had had a terrible time beating Wrangell’s full court press when they were played their games there away from home. 

IMG_1547 crop Then the question was, if they got to state, how would they beat Petersburg.  I’m thinking that all the hard work the boys put in on beating that press paid dividends when it came to beating the presses the other teams showed us when we got to state.  I think many of the teams we played there were used to scoring a lot of points on steals after scoring, during the transition and then they were a bit suprised by their inability to more than score a few isolated points and wear both themselves and us down a bit.

Normally, I think of a team making it to state when the bulk of the team is sophomores and juniors then making it back to win IMG_1519state as seniors.  This team had a fair amount of seniors but we’d never been to the tournament before at all and were not really expecting to become the champions.  Of course, I think a big part of it was the coaching: there is the expectation with them that they are going to win a more games than the other guys and Steve is very good at adjusting to the looks the other teams give us.

IMG_1500 crop I still can’t really believe that Haines won the State Championship.  It sill is hard to believe. But it’s undeniable.  They played a very guts tough game against a very athletic Eilson team, coming from behind to beat them in overtime without Ame, they played Heritage’s slower tempo game, not forcing up shots near the end but being patient (although still not as patient as Heritage was).

Of course we can’t forget that the Haines Girls won state back in 1985 (If memory serves, this was a tough one for Barrow, as I recall: Helen Albert, Gretchen Charles, Kirstin Bagne, and others were a bit down at the time, as I recall).

IMG_1377 Of course we celebrated the success of the Cheer team, the dance team, and the individual success of Kelsi Gloyer in her solo performance. 

They did an excellent, first rate job, and came away with first places in their events.

And we also recognized, from the crowd, the excellent showing our JR High teams had at Juneau this past weekend, and also gave a nod to the Merchants how came in second at Gold Medal.

A Barrow memory: First fight….

Fights are things best forgotten…

A long time ago when I was in third grade and we lived in the school at Barrow we needed to go to the ten-plex for a potluck.  I think ,back then, the teachers had a monthly potluck that moved around from house to house and it was potluck night (perhaps one of my siblings will fill in some details here).  I always liked the monthly staff pot-lucks as it was a fun time to get together with the other kids and play games like tag or eskimo baseball.

Barrow We lived in the end of the school that was the second to last house from the primary (which has since burned down) and the ten-plex was at the opposite end of the school, which meant we had to walk through the section of the school that was open to the public for open gym.  This was not a problem as we had the keys we needed to get through the doors.  Keys were a big deal up there because they were necessary to get into the heated sections of the world.  I was in the lead that day by a few paces, as mom and dad were probably carrying Betty, as she was  just a youngster, I have no idea how or why I was ahead of the two older bothers.

HS I went through the doors that led to the gym and ran around the corner trying to get  to the safe haven of the adult monitored section down where the locked doors were near the HS.  As I ran around one corner, Leo Kaleak punched me in stomach and knocked the wind out of me–he was a 6th grader and quite a bit bigger than I.  Oh that hurt.  I thought I was going to die and started to cry as soon as I could get some wind.  I’d never had the wind knocked out of me before, plus it was so unexpected. 

I went limping back through the doors where Jack and Andy were playing and told them what had happened.  Jack was not happy.  Leo was in his class.  We stuck together as we walked along looking for Leo so we could balaqtak him.  There’s safety in numbers.

When we saw him, Jack went right up to him and punched him right in the face.  He bent over to put his hands to his face and Jack kicked him right in the stomach.  Then he fell to his knees and vomitted right on the floor.  Then we all ran off to the HS doors so we wouldn’t get in trouble.

There were other fights I saw up in Barrow and other fights I was involved in, but this was the first real fight I saw that Jack was in that I can recall. 

At times, I wonder how life would have been had I stayed in Barrow or gone back there to raise my family there. 

Life would be different.  It would not be the same.

When I was a kid, we had family meals every night…

Monday, May 29, 2006

As we sat around the table with Luke at the head of the table and Mark Daniel sitting next to me facing the little window, and with Holly at the foot of the table, each eating our salads while the pasta boiled in the black and white flecked porcelain covered sauce pan that Margaret bought us, Holly asked me what it was like to eat meals when I was a kid.

Well, that brought back memories.  A lot of them.  The first thing you have to know about our family meals is that I’m the third of four siblings in our family of six, so it follows that the family meals were a lively time full of stories and boys eating in such a way as to maximize individual intake. The next thing you’d need to know was I grew up in Barrow, Alaska where it was really cold and dark for most of the year and almost all of our food arrived once a  year in August when the barge came at near the end of its run, before the ice pack closed in the arctic waters for the winter.

Mom would prepare our food each night from the canned goods in the cache (a room where Jack, the eldest sibling, slept for many years until the arrival of sister Betty.  There were of course a few items that were fresh from time to time, and much of the bread we ate came from the local store. 

As I remember the typical meal, Mom would call out to the various rooms in our 800 sq foot apartment from the doorway to the kitchen, “Time for Dinner!”  She’d always yell it out loud enough for all to hear, as she was raised on a farm and can yell quite loud, in what is amazingly a sweet and lady-like way, considering the volume.  You’d think we’d all come running at that announcement, but what it really often meant was it was time to come help set the table, as dinner was almost ready.  And so we’d often not come immediately.

Dad sat at the head of the table, I sat to his right, Andy to my right, and Mom sat at the foot of the table.  To mom’s right, continuing along counter-clockwise, sat Betty, then Jack.  Any company would sit along the long edges with the kids.  Mom often would place the side dishes–the corn, bread, beans or what-have-you near her plate at one end, while dad often would have the main dish down by his plate where all the plates would be stacked up and ready to serve.  He’d serve up the main dish (Dinty-Moore  Beef stew, Eggs ala goldenrod, toads in the whole, pancakes, speghetti, or grilled cheese and tomatoe soupa re the main meals I recall), working his way down the family by age most times it seemed.  Betty would always count the ‘meats’ to makes sure she was getting her fair share, “Hey, Jack got three ‘meats’ and I only got one!  That’s not fair,” she’d call out with a sparkle in her eye as Jack would struggle to wolf down a couple to prove she was wrong before anyone could check.

One way my family meals differed from Holly’s is that we weren’t particularly finicky.  One of the main goals was to get done with a plate-load quickly to qualify for additional helpings.  Those that were unwise and ate slowly often found there were no second helpings left at the end of the meal.  Holly’s still finds this hard to fathom, as she is quite particular about what she eats even to this day, and I will still eat just about anything, especially if it’s free.

The best part about dinner was the story time, where each person got a chance to tell the family how the day had gone for them.  It is this special time of story telling that I want to have in my family as the boys grow up.  And it is here I leave you with a thought.

I read once in a magazine at an airport when Holly and I were on our first cross-country trip, back before the boys were born, that they’d finally found a very good predictor for determining how long a marriage would last.  The details are a bit sketchy now, but having a background in statistics myself, and dating a young lady with a major in psychology, I pointed the article out to Holly and we both read the article and found it quite fascinating.  The gist of the article was that if a couple was interviewed in different rooms while separated, where they couldn’t hear each other, about how the couple had met, dated, and gotten married often some amazing things were discovered.  Sometimes the stories were strikingly similar, and other times the stories were bafflingly different.  The researches found in this longitudinal study (a study done over many years with the same subjects) that those couples with similar stories of their courting and early days had long lasting marriages, while those with different views of their early times often had short fiery marriages.

In my family, as we grew up, each day we had family time around the table in which we told each other how our days had gone, and we got to stay in touch that way.  To this day, we still talk frequently on the phone and are all good friends.  I’d be willing to bet that if someone were to interview each of us about what those early years were like as a family, they’d find startlingly similar viewpoints. And I think that is one reason why my family, though we live quite distant from each other today is still quite close, emotionally.  In my view, our society is built on the family unit.  I’m not sure exactly how to say how important I think this is, but to me the family is VERY important.

Tomorrow evening, be sure to sit down with your family at dinner and tell them how your day went, and then find out how each other person’s day went.  I think that’s one of the keys to having a family that stays together.