Month: April 2008 (Page 1 of 2)

Sippy Cup Problems

If someone could invent a sippy cup that didn’t stink all the time, they would be a kazillionaire, because I would pay any price and buy at least four. Even the cups that we just put water in are already stank-stank-stanky just four days after they were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected for several hours.

 

Language

Keeping with the kids theme, rather than busting out a long, disjointed accounting of all the cute/funny/infuriating things about the girls I’ve jotted down in recent weeks, <span style=”text-decoration:line-through;”>I’ll offer up a few at a time</span>.

Today: B. Girls Say The Darndest Things.

(OK, it ended up being semi-long and disjointed anyway.)

When we got home from preschool today, M. refused to tell me what she had done. That’s not unusual; she’s usually tired and a little off when she gets home. But today she had an explanation. “I’m just a little frustrated, dad.” Frustrated? How does a three-year-old know what frustrated means?

C. has a unique method of counting. She can count from 1-3 in Chinese, thanks to Ni Hao Kai-lan, then from 4-6 in Spanish thanks to Dora, and finally 7-11 in English thanks to her home environment I guess. I supposed I need to get her to do 12-20 in Italian now to finish the job.

C.’s response to just about any question is “Ok Daddy.” I ask her if she wants milk, “OK Daddy.” Tell her to stop pulling her sister’s hair, “OK Daddy.” Inform her if she gets out of bed one more time, she’s going in the baby crib, “OK Daddy.” It’s kind of funny, sometimes.

One day M. told me that she had told warned C. not to do something. Then, she said, “I’m the big, brave sister, dad.” I’m not sure what’s brave about telling your sister not to do something.

I’ve promised to share one of their funny conversations for awhile, but first I lost it and now I can’t recreate it totally accurately. But, it went something like this.
C. to M., who is walking down the stairs: “What doing, sisher?”
M: I did a great job on the potty, C.!”
C: “Great job, sisher!”
M: C., you wanna see my boots?”
C: “OOOOOOH! Cute!”
M: “C., you wanna play?”
C: “YEEEEEAAAAAH!”

If you press on C.’s belly button and say “Ding Dong,” she will respond by saying, “Izzybody home?!?!”

M. was taking some medication briefly last week. After fighting it for a couple days (they were eyedrops) we resorted to bribing her to get her to relax and cooperate. Her reward for doing well was getting a treat when she went to the grocery store with me the next day. The treat turned out to be chocolate milk and pumpkin bread at Starbucks, which she calls the Pumpkin Bread Store. While we were enjoying our snack, she said, “I like it when we spend time together and eat pumpkin bread, Dad.” They get you right here sometimes.

C. is right on schedule, learning about the Beatles. The other day the Beatles Music for Kids CD came up in the van, beginning with “All You Need Is Love.” From the middle car seat I heard, “Dad! Wub Wub Wub! It duh bee-duls, dad!”

Good Grief

I’m working on some new content, don’t worry. Last week was a busy one in and around the house. I power washed and then re-stained/sealed the deck. Worked in the yard. We reorganized the garage, including adding some new storage devices. Had some car repairs taken care of. And did some reorganization inside as well.

This week, it’s me and the girls. So hopefully the five or six drafts I started last week will be completed.

To get you started though, this gem from the 3.5 year old. She’s reached the point in her life where her crotch is interesting to her. Or, I should say “crouch,” which is what she calls it. Nothing too disturbing yet, mostly just keeping her hand in the vicinity a little more than you would like. As my wife has counseled friends over-and-over again, it’s normal and, as we all know, it can feel kind of good. So we try to keep her activities confined to the house and keep her hands outside her pants.

This morning we were sitting on the couch together. I was checking e-mail and whatnot and she was watching the Wiggles. I looked over and she had a toy that is shaped like a bee down in the region. She caught my eye and said, “Dad, the bee is getting some nectar,” and smiled at me. I didn’t know whether to instruct her to remove the bee from her “crouch,” to laugh, or to explain that bees get nectar from flowers outside, not from little girls’ “crouches.” I think I choked out something like, “Please don’t put that there,” then got back to my e-mail before I busted out laughing. At least she didn’t do it at the mall (jinx)!

Still Giddy

I promised one more KU post, so here goes it. Feel free to move along to other/better things if you’re sick of it all.

Well, the hangover remains, although this is an extremely pleasant hangover. I’m down to a relatively normal number of e-mails related to KU again. I was getting about 1000 a day, or so it seemed, most of last week. It’s a little sad, I think, that they don’t constantly replay the game on some easily viewed network. I think America wants to see it over-and-over again.

I said after the championship game that for fans, winning a title was really about having bragging rights and buying t-shirts. I’ve learned over the past two weeks that it is about a lot more. It brings fans together. I’ve reconnected with some friends I haven’t talked to in awhile because of KU’s win. Friends I still talk to quite a bit, I’ve been talking to more. Each time one of us forwards another YouTube video of the scene inside Allen Fieldhouse during the title game, or from some bar in Brooklyn where New York KU fans congregated, or just slide shows of photos from the season, we share and enhance each other’s happiness. I’m sure most of the contact I’ve had would have happened had KU lost, it’s just we would have been mourning together. It is a nice byproduct of the win, though, to share it with so many friends who are scattered across the country. Each message brings a tone of “I still can’t believe this happened,” which makes me relive the closing moments of the game over-and-over again. I think my blood pressure is 20 points better than it was this time two weeks ago!

My step-dad sent me last Sunday’s KC Star section on the KU season. I thought Blair Kerhoff’s story about what KU team is the greatest ever was very interesting. I can’t argue with his methodology or results. In fact, his story saved me a lot of time and mental effort, as I was going to crunch those same numbers. I like his idea of throwing out comparing teams across eras on a position-by-position basis. Too hard, too dependent on memory and emotion, and in many cases, subject to different rules of the game. Had I done it on my own, I may have found different results, but I’m having a hard time coming up with something different now.

But, for those of you who missed it, here’s what I have with quick thoughts:
1) 2008. Champs in best Final Four field ever, great on both ends of the court, deep. Oh, and greatest shot ever.
2) 1952. Outstanding all season, most dominant player in the country manning the low post.
3) 1988. Got hot when it mattered. And a Manning in the low post.
4) 1986. So freaking close and so scarily talented.
5) 1997. Fell apart when it mattered, but brilliant the rest of the season.
6) 1957. Wilt.
7) 2002. 16-0 in the Big 12, national semifinalists.
8) 2003. Undone by horrific coaching in the first 20 minutes and awful free throws in the last 20 minutes vs. Syracuse.
9) 1991. Beat Indiana, Arkansas, and North Carolina before losing to Duke in the title game.
10) 1993. National semifinalists.

My favorite part about the list is thinking about the ’86 team for awhile. For my non-KU readers, you have to understand that to any KU fan who’s been following the team for over 25 years, the ’86 team is the de-facto standard. They were an awesome team that had NBA talent at every position (although only two players spent any significant time in the league). They beat eventual champs Louisville twice during the season. They lost four games by a total of 12 points, one of which came in overtime. As strange as this gap seems now, it was KU’s first conference championship in eight years. They crushed some really good teams along the way. In the Final Four, despite the worst game of Danny Manning’s career, they were ahead late when Archie Marshall went up for an open layup. His knee blew out, he missed the shot, the team lost its most effective player on the day, the rest of the players were crushed, and couldn’t hold off Duke, losing by four. After beating Louisville in New York and Lawrence, surely they would have done it again in Dallas, right?

But I also think about all else that would have changed if KU won it all in ’86. Larry Brown leaves sooner than he ultimately did. Danny Manning probably only stays for three years. 1988 never happens. Larry Brown also probably never gets involved with Vincent Askew and KU doesn’t go on probation. Roy Williams probably never coaches at KU. Of course you can get silly from there, but it is interesting how a seemingly awful moment could have been the catalyst for all that’s happened at KU since.

Looking ahead, Brandon Rush is now gone. Darrell Arthur is being very wise in how he handles his draft declaration, not signing with an agent right away and leaving an open door to return to KU if he doesn’t get good feedback from NBA teams. Given how deep this draft is and the fact he has yet to prove he’s a consistent force down low, I think there’s still a legitimate chance he returns. I’d keep it in the 20-25% range now, dependent on how many more people declare for the draft. Small, but not an insignificant chance.

We’re still waiting to hear what Mario Chalmers does. I would not be surprised if he does the declare/not sign thing. His name is popping up in the late first round on some mock drafts, but I’m not sure he’ll stick there. We’ll see. I still think he’s 50-50, or maybe 51-49 he stays for the purpose of this post.

So a lineup that starts Sherron Collins, Mario Chalmers, a Juco transfer at the other perimeter spot, then Cole Aldrich and one of the Morris twins down low is what we’re probably looking at next fall. The better of the Morris twins (I’ll figure out which is which in October) is supposed to be more of a perimeter player, so KU could suddenly be rather small, with four guys outside and only one inside. If Darrell returns, that’s a solid team. KU’s incoming class has been rated the best in the country by the only major recruiting “expert” who includes Juco transfers and prep school players in his rankings. It’s certainly deep, with six guys coming in. Bill Self says he will continue to look at players, so a seventh could join the team.

In many ways, I’m really looking forward to next season. Bill Self adjusts his offense to match his talent, so it will be interesting to see what he puts together to maximize the players he will have. I also remember how ugly the team played back when Mario, Brandon, etc. were freshmen trying to learn a system. Even if Mario and Darrell return, there are going to be some ugly nights. There will be nights when the opposing team’s fans take extra special pride in beating KU, since they’ll be the defending national champs and all. But what remains is certainly an NCAA team, and depending on how quickly the incoming players figure out the system and how to play at this level, it could be a team no one wants to play in March.

Whatever happens, I will truly be a zen fan next year. There is no complaining the year after your team won a title, especially the way KU won. Throw in the football team and it’s been the greatest year ever. The football team could go 1-11 next year, the basketball team 12-18 and miss all postseason play, and I’ll just smile and point to my 2008 National Champions shirt. Wait, I take that all back, lest I tempt the sports gods too much!

That’s all for now. Don’t hold me to my promise to stop talking about KU, though.

Auspicious Start

It’s bad enough when the two-year-old gets out of bed, opens her door, goes down the stairs, and starts running around the living room at 5:30 AM. Then the house started shaking.

Apparently we had a nice 5.4 earthquake this morning. I don’t remember anything from my days in southeast Missouri, right on top of the New Madrid fault (early reports say our shaker this morning was on the New Madrid fault), but I never felt one this big in my one year in California. Of course, it woke up the three-year-old and the entire family has been awake ever since.

Fear of Unfortunate Comments

As I try to come up with all the funny things the girls are saying these days, here’s a quick teaser.

M. refers to anything that is brown as chocolate. She wants to wear her “chocolate” shoes or shirt or likes the chocolate dog or whatever. Her sister is following that example, although C. says “chock-u-late.”

As you can imagine, there are horrifying possibilities for this. Some day when we’re out in public one of the girls is going to say something about a “chocolate” (or chock-u-late) person. And I’m going to be flooded with liberal white guilt and shame.

This <a href=”http://www.jumpingmonkeys.com/jumpingmonkeys/2008/04/elegy-for-the-c.html”>blog post</a> got me thinking about that. I think just about all parents fear their kids saying something that embarrasses them or worse makes someone else feel self-conscious or bad about themselves. Throwing the race card in just makes things worse. You hope when it does happen to you (and it will), that whoever they’re talking about has good humor and understanding about the whole thing (or better yet just doesn’t hear).

More More More

More Jayhawk talk. And lots of it. I promise, only one or two more of these for my non-Jayhawk readers.

It’s been an odd couple of days. I still don’t feel great. Much better than I felt Monday, but my stomach is still giving me fits. So I’ve continued to kind of lay around the past couple days. Of course, I read every article about the game I can find, watch every YouTube video of the celebration in Lawrence, and just sit around staring at pictures of the game. I’ve watched bits and pieces of the game, as well. It’s like being stuck in a happy dream. I know this giddiness will pass, but I’m enjoying every moment of it. Each time I look at my phone or computer desktop and see Mario taking his shot, I smile and laugh.

Speaking of odd, how about some odds. Who will be in Lawrence next fall? These are the odds that each person will be a member of the KU basketball program when school begins in August.

Brandon Rush. 0%. Not happening. His delay in announcing is just so he doesn’t piss Bill Self off like he did last year. He’s like 29 anyway. Go make some money, young man. You were better and more valuable than any of us ever hoped you would be.

Darrell Arthur. 20%. The rumor has been his handlers have been pushing him all year for this to be it in Lawrence. He said over the weekend that his family was telling him to stay. I think he showed enough in San Antonio to justify someone spending a mid first round pick on him. The light really seemed to come on for awhile in February. You could tell Danny Manning had been teaching him some tricks. And it made me sad, because traditionally, he would return for one more year and blossom in ’08-09. Then, he flat out sucked for about four weeks, and I thought, “Who’s going to draft this stiff?” But he put it all together when it mattered against UNC and Memphis. It would be great to have him back, but I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it happens.

Mario Chalmers. 50%. I’ve heard he really wants to declare but not hire an agent and see how things go. Some people say he should capitalize on his MOP performance. Others say he still needs to prove he can be an effective ball handler before someone is going to spend a first round pick on him. Even with Sherron Collins back next year, I think Mario will have a chance to prove that, since you have to assume Sherron is going to be dinged up at least part of the season. If Mario blows up in workouts, he’s gone. Keith Smart’s senior year wasn’t so great, you know.

Sherron Collins. 70%. He’s been injury-prone and at 5’11” he’s not going to get drafted as a sophomore. He may not even get a shot in summer leagues or with lower level leagues. He’s got a family to provide for, though, which means he could be receptive to heading overseas rather than spend another year at KU.

Bill Self. 80% Ahh, saving the big tuna for last. I disagree with those who flat-out dismiss the OSU option. I think it is a legitimate opportunity, especially for a guy who just won a national title. Why not go home for boatloads of money and prove that you can build a consistent national power at OSU? The only way I think it happens, though, is if KU somehow screws up the negotiation process. He’s clearly giving KU every opportunity to step up. I think he wants to stay. As attractive as building a winner at home is, I think Bill knows that his work effort would be increased immensely trying to get the same results in Stillwater. I think he’s happy at KU, appreciative of his place in the school’s history, and eager to build on that. He has a chance to build a dynasty at KU, where he would be starting over at OSU.

Now I know some people may be saying, “Wait, you were pissed at Roy Williams for not making a call to delay things by a week five years ago, why aren’t you pissed at Bill Self for not doing the same thing?” I think the situations are completely different. Biggest of all, Self has handled everything so far in the open and honestly. He hasn’t lied about past statements. He hasn’t refused to talk about things. He’s been pretty public with what he will tell OSU if/when they call. In other words, he’s been very mature and professional about this whole process.

If he did decide to go, I would be disappointed but not as upset as I was five years ago. He won a frickin’ title, for crying out loud! I think Mark Turgeon has proven he’s ready and worthy of taking over the KU job. Danny Manning would stick around to continue to teach the big men. I’m sure, as with the Williams-Self transition, there would be some bumps in the road, but in time things would work out ok.

But there’s only a 20% chance of it happening, so enough of that talk!

OK, more assorted thoughts from the past few days.

One of the most fun things about the weekend was the chirping of my iPhone as text messages came in during each game. During the UNC game, I heard from lots of non-KU fans, impressed at the ass-kicking that was taking place. After Mario’s shot Monday, I received texts from three different people that all said the same thing, “OMG!” And then lots of fun ones after the final seconds of overtime ran off the clock. I’ll be saving a few of those for awhile. Thanks to all who thought of me.

It’s part of being a fan of a Midwestern team to complain about east coast media bias. Whether you’re a Rams, Tigers, Royals, Jayhawks, Wildcats, or Cyclones fan, when your team is good, you’re going to spend some time complaining about how they don’t get any respect from the east coast media elites. So I was amused if not surprised by the media shock at how KU manhandled UNC. It’s as if people hadn’t seen KU play all year and didn’t understand that their guards were actually faster than UNC’s, and that their big men were bigger, stronger, and could jump higher than Tyler Hansbrough. Make no mistake, the way KU laid the wood in the first 15 and final five minutes should have been a surprise. But it should not have been a surprise to anyone who watches enough basketball that KU was just as talented, if not more so, than UNC. But people who sit around and watch nothing but the ACC, or worse didn’t watch any basketball until March, and thus didn’t realize the ACC kind of sucked this year, are surprised when some team from the Midwest comes in and messes with their expectations.

So far all the east coast experts, when Tyler Hansbrough’s only struggles all season came when he faced bigger frontlines, it’s not a huge upset when four bigger guys than him contain him.

Oh, and as for Psycho-T sweeping the POY awards, KU shut him down (Yeah, yeah, 17 &amp; 9. He looked scared and confused after they sat him on his ass for the second time). Michael Beasley scored 25 and 39 against KU.

My favorite question of the weekend was from an unnamed reporter who asked Cole Aldrich what it was like to play against a guy who had “the biggest will in the history of the game.” It’s always nice to get some sarcasm in the interview room. I’m guessing that writer was from the Midwest or west coast.

And how about Cole Aldrich? I’ll admit, when I heard a 6’11” high school junior from Minnesota committed to KU two years ago, I wasn’t terribly excited. Forgive me for doubting Bill Self, but the words “gigantic stiff,” and “Eric Chenowith” certainly entered my mind. But I remember thinking there was hope last fall when I read an article about Aldrich playing against Greg Oden a year earlier and being the only guy who could block Oden’s shot. He said something like, “I figured I’m big too, why not. He dunked on me a few times but I blocked a few of his shots and made him work.” I liked his attitude. Kid has been a pleasant surprise and played crazy good Saturday. He has a bright future.

And Roy’s tie. WTF?!?! Seriously. I was expecting his ugly ass Carolina blue blazer.

I was surprised I never heard the names Dana Kirk or Vincent Askew between Saturday and Monday. KU and Memphis (State) have a little off-the-court history. Look it up if you don’t know.

Jesse Jackson was Memphis’ spiritual advisor? Again, WTF? I remember when he used to do meaningful things like try to broker peace in foreign lands or break down the final walls of racism in this country. But one of the most important civil rights leaders in this country’s history has been reduced to hanging out with college basketball teams? Calipari tries every motivational angle, doesn’t he?

My second favorite part of the Sports Illustrated cover? Julian Wright, sitting under the basket, leaning in to get a good look at Mario’s shot.

Seriously, man, Mario Fucking Chalmers! Bill Simmons has the five year rule after your team wins a title. That shot might satisfy my for 20 years.

There’s a part in <i>Fever Pitch</i> where Nick Hornby is discussing what the best soccer win is. I believe he says it’s a 3-2 win when your team was down both 1-0 and 2-1 and scored the winner late. So I’ve been thinking what the best basketball win is. Is it when you kill someone and even your scrubs are lighting it up, as KU did against Texas Tech? Is it a great game in which your team is just a little bit better in crunch time, like the Big 12 championship game? Is it like the ’88 championship game, where your team is the underdog but they hang in the entire game, fall behind, take a lead, and then close it out? Or is it like Monday’s game, where the game seems lost until two miraculous plays occur, a little more luck comes your way, and the final minute passes with no doubt of the outcome? I’m partial to Monday’s result right now.

I think that element of nearly losing then coming back dramatically makes a huge difference. If we hadn’t blown our lead when it looked like we were taking control, and held it for a 10 point lead, I think we would all have been thrilled and happy. But even today I’m getting e-mails from friends who can’t believe what happened. That little extra bit of drama makes the experience, and the memories, all the more sweet.

I’ve got lots more thoughts, but I’ll spare you from them for now. Coming later this week, one more post about this year’s team. It will be clearly labeled so you can move on if you wish.

Champs

The day after. Feeling about 80% better, although it was a rather restless night of sleep.

I thought a lot about what winning a national championship would mean to me, as a fan and alum, over the weekend. The reality, of course, is that it really only gives me a chance to buy a bunch of new t-shirts and ultimate bragging rights on anyone else until the next championship is won.

But there really is more to it, isn’t there? It’s an indescribable feeling. Part satisfaction, part joy, part relief, part giddiness that takes you back to your childhood, before you became cynical and every game your team won was a little miracle.

Here’s kind of a funny story. Growing up, I loved baseball. Loved, loved, loved it. I seriously thought I would be a professional baseball player when I grew up. I was an ok player, I generally made the All-Star team when I was in the older half of each age bracket, but it’s not like I was bursting with talent. I tolerate basketball. I played it each winter but wasn’t very good at it and got little joy from it. Almost every year, my basketball team would win the championship. I was happy but not overjoyed when we won. I was always on horrible baseball teams, and it killed me. Then, finally, in the seventh grade, I was on a really good baseball team. We made it to the championship series, won the first game, lost the second, and had the lead late in the final game of the series. I hadn’t done shit at the plate that game, 0-2 with a walk, but I had made two pretty good catches in centerfield, one of which saved two runs. In the sixth inning, we were up one, were into the other team’s bullpen, and I knew if we got through that inning, we would add a couple more runs and win for sure. So, when we got the third out, I put my head down and ran towards the dugout, knowing I was due up second and had four hits against the other team’s pitcher that season. Then, out of nowhere, the leftfielder tackled me. WTF? It wasn’t the sixth inning, it was the seventh. The game was over. I had totally missed the moment I had been waiting five years for: winning a baseball championship.

Why does that matter? That’s kind of how I felt last night. Not that I lost track of time or anything like that, but I just laid on the couch all night, never getting too up or down during the game, covering my head with a pillow and hot water bottle during time outs. When Mario Chalmers hit his shot (which is already my desktop wallpaper) I hopped up and let out a grunt, half pleasure, half pain. Like Darnell Jackson, I had thought the game was over with about 2:00 to play and had been busy reflecting on the season, and accepting I got what I had always begged for this time of year: KU playing good in a season-ending loss. But, the moment that shot went through, I knew KU was going to win. I mean, there was no way they couldn’t. They controlled the first half, let it slip away in the second, and then with some help from Memphis, snatched it away. That was a punch to the gut no team could recover from. And like Mario’s three against Texas a year ago, you could see it energize KU. They knew they were going to win. A dunk, a lay-up, a defensive stop, and the rest of overtime was just a matter of running out the clock. And now, what KU fans had been waiting for for 20 years had finally come.

I finally stood up in front of the tv, raised my arms, and watched the final seconds tick away. And then I sat down again. Too much standing. It began to hit me, how much I had hoped for this and here it was. I tried to hold on to the moment, because that’s all that really matters, is the moment. After that, it’s all reflection and perspective and ultimately it becomes history. I made sure not to think that I had suffered for this or that I deserved it somehow. As I’ve said over-and-over recently, I’ve been very luck as a KU fan over the years. All the shitty tournament losses made this win all the more sweeter, but in no way were we KU fans owed something because we survived those moments. Sports will always break your heart. There is always another game, another tournament, another season to bring you down to earth after the wins. But I am very fortunate that I’ve now watched my favorite team win the ultimate championship twice.

There’s much more to catch-up on from the weekend, and obviously a lot going on in Lawrence that could make Kansas basketball look very different next October. We’ll get to that eventually. For now, I’m going to bask. And go order some shirts.

Unbelievable

Sick on the couch all day, laid on my back for the game, but managed to get upright after Mario C saved the day. Not afraid to admit I’m shedding some tears of joy right now. What a team what a season what a shot what a game. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

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