Let Me Tell You a Little Story About the Grossest Hotel Room Ever.


Actually, it’s not a story about a seedy hotel, but that doesn’t matter.Much Cleaner.  I Mean Much Cleaner.

You are here for the gross part and I’m not about to disappoint.

Let me start at the beginning.

The Evil Spawn was wrapping up her summer season of softball, so we had one final trip. 

I say summer season, because next year starts in about 8 minutes because June 2013 is just around the corner and we’ve got to get these girls practicing (sarcasm alert!).

Since we had this one last tournament and we were tired of living in No Tell Motels, we had the ingenious idea to rent a house.

It would be fun.

It would be close to Lake Michigan.

The whole family together.

It would be like a vacation, except for the fact that 14 hours a day we would be sitting in lawn chairs at some faceless softball field in 197 degree heat.

Actually, it’s fun.  Except for the part where your underwear starts sweating.  I hate that.

One would think a person’s underwear would dry out in extreme heat, but it’s just the opposite.

But, I digress.  We rent this house and it seems like a great idea.

I probably wouldn’t have done this 10 years ago, but now with the interweb it’s just so simple.

Pictures online.  Reviews by other God fearing kind-hearted folks.

What could possibly go wrong?

Turns out a lot.

The pictures didn’t exactly reflect the level of disgusting that wrapped itself around the house like a thick winter coat on a chubby 4-year old.

Turns out people who rent their homes for money don’t use the word "filthy" or the phrase "should be condemened" when they are trying to make a buck.

I should have realized we had a problem when cockroaches met us at the front door.  And they were on their way out.

The look on my wife’s face as she was sentenced… I mean walked in to this rental property was disturbing.  She looked like a teenage girl in a horror movie when the phone rings and the call is coming from inside the house.

She was scared.  And rightfully so.

The highlights were as follows:  old food in the refrigerator, a mysterious hair attached to the TV remote, enough trash hidden under the raised cabinets to start your own dump, and a cat in the corner of the bedroom.

Actually, it wasn’t a cat.

It was a dust bunny in the shape of a 47 pound cat.  I swear it growled at me when I reached down to pet it.

I was afraid to turn on the lights.  Not because I didn’t want to see more dirt, but because I was frightened to touch the light switch.  There was a layer of something on it that reminded me of a petri dish.

I could go on and on, but it gives me the willies and I feel like I need to save part of this story for my therapist.

And as a favor to all of my loyal readers, I’m not even going to tell you my theory on the mystery hair.

My wife tried in vain to find a hotel room for us to stay in, but they were all booked.  Turns out Priceline and William Shatner couldn’t save me on this night.

So I went with Plan B.

I slept in my clothes.

I did survive the night, but then I had to use the restroom and shower.

Honestly, in my 44 years on this Earth, I don’t recall feeling dirtier after a shower than before.  And I grew up in an era where you showered after high school PE.

Something positive did come out of this experience (besides the partial refund).

I have a whole new respect for my wife’s fear of portapotties (she can’t be the only one who would rather explode than take one step into these plastic boxes of infection).

Actually, now that I think about it, I would have been better off sleeping in a portapotty.

As an added bonus it was our wedding anniversary.

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The Biggest of All Parental Mistakes.


I’m about to do all parents a favor.Never Make a Wish.

I’m going to share a lesson most of us had to learn the hard way.

Please take notes (or just refer back to this blog … it’s good for traffic).

Never.

Ever.

Wish.

Against.

Your.

Kids.

The mere thought of wishing against your children will infuriate the God of your choice.

Karma will smack you upside the head like a tired angry mom with 7 year old triplets in Wal-mart (I’ve seen her slap them into next week… and I was scared).

Examples follow.

Your kid is playing in his or her 100th baseball/softball game of the summer.  Every one of them took place in tempatures of at least 1,000 degrees.

You just want an evening off.  You spot what looks like a raincloud in the distance.

You quietly, without bringing any attention to yourself, wish it would rain just enough to cancel the game so you can go home and read a book.

This may seem like a simple harmless wish, but you know what will happen?

No rain for 18 months.  A drought of epic proportions.  Your kid’s game not only won’t be rained out, but it will go extra innings.

Farmers will hate you.

And if you’re lucky, you might get home by 2:00 am.

Another example.  Wish your child’s graduation program will be over in less than an hour.

You’ve just guaranteed you will be in a hot gymnasium without air conditioning sitting between smelly people for the next four days.

Wish the coach will put your kid in the big game.

It happens.  Only to have the very same kid do something so horrific the team loses by 97 points and the other parents won’t speak to you in the grocery store ever again (this last part could be a good thing).

Wish your child’s teacher would announce your kid as a mortal lock for a full scholarhsip to an Ivy League college. 

Not going to happen.  There’s a better chance the teacher says in her 47 years of education she’s never been more sure a child is guaranteed to be convicted of a felony before their 14th birthday.

Wish your kids gets a college degree so they can support themselves.

They do.

And they move back home for the next four decades.  With their spouse.

And four kids.  And two dogs.  And massive debt.

Get it?

Never wish. 

It angers the God of I Just Want Some Peace and Quiet.

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Youth Sports Spelled Backward is Stressful.


Or maybe it’s stropshtuoy.Stress Makes Me Old.  Older.

No matter how it’s spelled, it’s way more stressful than I ever imagined.

I coached for a long time.

Some people would say way too long (by some… I mean all).

As a school administrator, I’ve had to throw my share of over-zealous parents out of games for griping at the referees and coaches.

Or both (and honestly, if you’re about to be tossed out of a gymnasium in front of your peers you might as well yell at everyone).

My assumption was these people were insane.

Who gets so caught up in a child’s game that they have to be removed by a mild-manner kind-hearted person like me?

I was wrong.  We are all insane.

At least when it comes to watching our kids.

It’s in our genes (in my first draft I spelled this "jeans" which is actually funnier).

It’s easy to lose perspective when your child loses.  Or fails.  Or doesn’t get to play.

I’ve known for a long time that The Evil Spawn’s childhood would not go smoothly.

I anticipated visits from the local police.  Long chats with the District Attorney.

Neck tattoos.  Numerous piercings.  Fake IDs.  Boyfriends 35 years older than her.

I knew there would be late night car chases.  Liquor store robberies.  And various other crimes that I hoped would always be misdemeanors.

After all, what kind of father would I be if my only daughter was committing felonies?

What I didn’t count on was the pain and suffering of watching her grow up and being effected by the decisions of other adults (not in law enforcement).

Coaches.  Umpires.

Evil, evil people.

No one told me at the hospital when she was hatched, how challenging this time of her life could be.

I had no idea the pain and suffering one has to go through while sitting in a lawn chair watching her attempt to hit a softball (by the way… there is NO WAY that first pitch was a strike!!!).

Life is bound to get simplier when she is 16.  Or 17.  Or 18.

It will won’t it?

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Medal of Participation.


Softball season is over.

It’s another milestone in my daughter’s life.

Even the Kids Who Can't Make the Final Game Get a Medal.

Each sport she plays seems to come and go so quickly (except soccer… which drags on… and then drags on some more).

I’ve said it before, time (and her childhood) are moving by at a breakneck pace.

And yet, I don’t seem to age.

Maybe it’s good genes.  Maybe it’s dementia.

When her last game ended, she was presented with the traditional Medal of Participation.

If you play… good or bad… you get a generic softball necklace (see picture).

This keepsake will undoubtedly get shoved into her bedroom drawer of abyss.  This means it will never be seen again (until we kick her out of the house and reclaim her room as our new office).

The medals are nice, but they seem so temporary (it’s possible many were lost on the trip home).

This isn’t how my generation was raised.

When I was a kid (the 80’s… or the golden years as I like to call them), winners were given trophies and everyone else got nothing (and they liked it).

Now we have to make sure everyone feels good about themselves.

Wins and losses take a backseat to feelings and self-esteem.

This has always seemed odd to me.  Life used to be simpler.  Twenty years ago you could easily identify who won the game.

Now everyone is treated the same.

Call me crazy, but there was something to be said for one team parading a gigantic trophy (usually plastic) around the field while the 2nd place team stood off to the side and cried their eyes out.

It was simple and straightforward.

If you wanted a trophy, you had to practice.  And work.

Then practice some more.

It was what made America great.

The people who worked the hardest got the biggest rewards.

But things are different now.

I’ve always felt it was wrong to reward kids simply for participating.

I don’t do this often, so pay attention.

I may be changing my mind.

Maybe.

Yesterday, I saw one of my daughter’s teammates at the grocery store (a full 48 hours after their last game and the awarding of the Medals of Participation).

Much to my surprise she was wearing her medal.

And she was very proud of herself.

Really proud.

Not because she was the best player or the team who won the championship (sadly, she wasn’t and they didn’t), but because she played.

She participated.

And she has the medal to prove it.

So maybe… just maybe… I’ve been wrong.  Maybe participating is more important than winning.

Maybe.

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Parent Nerves.


The Evil Spawn is growing up in all kinds of ways (and some are starting to make me terribly uncomfortable).

She’s aging (9 going on 27).  Her sense of fashion is evolving (heavy on the Bling-Bling).  Her sense of humor is getting slightly more sarcastic (must get that from her mother).  She taller (she’s grown 97 inches in the last 3 days).

I knew these would be inevitable.

She’s also growing up in regards to sports.

Not the Evil Spawn.  But it was Just 3 Short Years Ago.

If I’m being honest, I have to say watching little girls play soccer, basketball, and softball can be challenging.

Actually, I don’t mean challenging.

I mean painful.

It’s worse than watching paint dry.  It’s like watching paint being spilled.  Over and over again (and the girls spilling it don’t seem to understand any of the rules of the game).

She is now at the age where girls are starting to separate themselves.  It’s becoming easier to see the difference between the flower-pickers and the girls who really want to play (not that there is anything wrong with picking flowers…).

As a parent, I wasn’t prepared for this quick transition.

In softball, it’s gone from girls not being able to catch, throw, or hit to travel teams, expensive batting helmets, and pitching camps.

It’s all happening way too quickly.

I knew I wouldn’t be prepared for her growing up, but I didn’t realize it would all happen so quickly.

The bad fashion sense and smart aleck comments I can handle (and maybe even trump).

But I had no idea about the Parent Nerves.

This is a concept that I didn’t even know was a concept until this year.

Turns out watching your child compete in sports is much more difficult than playing them yourself.

I thought it would be fun, but I was wrong.  It’s less fun and more stressful.

When the Evil Spawn plays, I have this strange feeling overtake me.

If feels like I’m going be sick at my stomach (a nice way of saying I’m about to throw up all over my shoes).

The feeling is a combination of public speaking and riding a roller coaster (or spiders crawling up your nose just as you fall asleep… and good luck dozing off without thinking about this blog).

I really believed watching her would be an enjoyable experience.  Maybe even peaceful.

I envisioned myself being the proud parent who just stood on the sidelines and smiled.

Nope.

It’s nerve-raking and traumatic.

My last words of encouragement before she heads onto the field

… “Don’t embarrass the family name.”

Maybe it will get easier over time.

Or maybe, I shouldn’t have reproduced.

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The Dust.


The Evil Spawn is 9 years old (at least today she is 9… when I wake up tomorrow she will be 27).

During this stage of her life, I am required to be somewhere watching her do something at least 3 nights a week.

Different seasons bring different sports.

Every season brings on a case of bleacher butt, but that’s an entirely different blog.The Evil Spawn.  Softball Stud (or Not).

Soccer (ugh), basketball, golf, and softball all have a place on the family calendar.

Sometimes I coach.

Sometimes I get lucky and don’t have to coach.

Summer means softball.

It also means I’m not that lucky.

I’m coaching.

Every practice presents a new challenge.

One night it’s parents.  Another night it might be me spending 30 minutes trying to figure out why half the girls didn’t bring gloves (yet they NEVER forget their pink helmets, pink batting gloves, and pink shoes).

On a bad night I might stand in the outfield and wonder how mosquitoes get as big as cats.

Normally, I just wonder why I agreed to coach.

Coaching little girls must be similar to childbirth.

A few months after the painful parts, your mind goes blank and you forget what a horrific experience it was.

But it’s not all bad.

Once in a while something happens and I’m thankful I was there to see it.

Or hear it.

Like tonight.

I told a young lady to go play first base.

She was so excited.

She pointed and said, “Last year they (coaches) never let me play here!”

I said, “First base?”

“No”, she said, “On the dust.”

“On the dust?”, I responded.

“Yes, here on the dust” as she pointed to the ground.

Then I got it.

She never got to play in the infield.

Or now as it’s known.

The dust.

Coaching is fun.

At least until the next labor pain.

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Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Drag Me Back In.


Softball... It's Better Than Soccer.Soccer is over.

Let’s all take a moment to comprehend the significance of this event. I would invite everyone over for a celebration of cake and ice cream, but I don’t have the time or the interest in having people in my house.

Plus, you don’t know where I live. And if you do, I just find that creepy (and a little sad).

While soccer has ended, I haven’t had much time off (it ended just in time; right before I went insane from watching a pack of 1st graders chase the ball… why can’t they just SPREAD OUT!?).

You see, the unemployed one’s softball season started about 12 seconds after the last soccer game ended.

My daughter literally walked off the soccer field and grabbed her softball glove (the pink one… don’t ask… something about it needs to match her outfit and her hair thingies).

I thought my coaching career had ended when I took my first job in administration.

My daughter doesn’t seem to have time to get a job, but she sure has time for soccer, softball, swimming, skiing, riding her bike, going to science camp, being a girl scout, and the 17 other things that we have to drive her to and from.

I have noticed that helping run a school district takes less time and organization than it does to schedule and provide transportation for her assorted activities.

As if being in charge of her taxi service wasn’t enough work for us, we volunteered to coach (again… won’t I ever learn?). Hopefully the Queen of Technology can whip up an Excel spreadsheet for the stats (although, now she prefers Google Spreadsheets, whatever that is).

Let’s all take another moment to ask ourselves… “Am I a glutton for punishment for coaching or just a moron?”

Don’t answer that, I think the answer came to me about 7 minutes into the first practice.

Have you ever tried to teach 1st and 2nd grade girls to hit, throw, catch, run the bases, and everything else that is involved in playing softball?

By the way, I don’t know why the 2nd baseman doesn’t stand directly on 2nd base, so I wish they would stop asking.

Coaching kids this age (or any age) can be complicated.

Plus, their hair is in constant need of being fixed. Although I must say they do look stunning in their matching pink shoes, shorts, gloves, batting helmets, and those hair thingies (when they stay in place).

Who knew NIKE made softball cleats with a pink swoosh on the side (actually the swoosh comes in many colors and it can be changed to match a certain young ladies outfit… which I have done 14 times… but never again… unless she asks and smiles at me).

I must admit that as much as I have tried to teach the girls, they are teaching me more.

The first thing I learned is that they don’t like it when the coach “accidently” hits them with a pitch. Sorry. I am doing the best that I can.

I have also noticed that hitting my own kid doesn’t really bother me. I am a horrible parent, but she needs to learn that the inside part of the plate belongs to ME!

Another thing is, while I knew this would be different than coaching junior high or high school boys, I had no idea how much.

Stay with me here. You may want to sit down.

The girls actually listen.

Yes, that’s right. Girls seem to listen better than boys.

Was I the only one who didn’t know about this?

You tell them to do something and they actually look at you and listen to what you’re saying.

And they don’t play in the dirt. Or spit. Or scratch.

Unfortunately, the girls can’t do everything we show them, but the important thing is they try.

I am astounded that I have stumbled upon this revelation of girls listening better than boys.

When does this stop? When do boys become the better listeners? What changes that makes us so attentive as husbands and fathers?

I hope someone out there knows the answer.

But if you Skype me, I probably won’t hear you.

SportsCenter is on and the louder you talk; the louder I will be forced to turn up the television… in my head.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.