Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Say Good-bye to the Tooth Fairy

Lost Teeth
Kayla lost her last baby tooth last night. (Kayla lost her upper left canine)

Shayna had lost a tooth on Monday (lower left) and we were so exhausted from our trip to Cleveland, we forgot to notify the Tooth Fairy to come. As we tried to make excuses for her yesterday, Shayna would have none of it. The Tooth Fairy must come and we had to notify her that her duty was to be there last night. Kayla insisted that the Tooth Fairy visit her as well.

The girls still have extremely vivid imaginations. They can sit and play "voices" for hours where one will play several characters and the other several characters. They also play "Kayla hand" and "Shayna" hand where their hands are the characters. But, don't care call them "hand puppets". They get absolutely indignant when you do that. They are not puppets. They are Kayla hand and Shayna hand.

It was a sad moment for me when Kayla lost her last baby tooth. Our "baby", who at 11 is a towering 5'8", is officially no longer a baby. According to the tradition in the Kirstie Alley movie "Toothless", she is no longer able to see the Tooth Fairy. Both girls got a visit from the Tooth Fairy last night. For Kayla, this will be the last.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My Birthday Weekend

My birthday always falls around Memorial Day. This year it fell on Memorial Day. Uncle Ronnie plays in a golf tournament for Marion Motley's scholarship fund every Memorial Day weekend and has invited Brent and I to play before. This year our schedules allowed us to make the trip up.

So, in spite of my reluctance to travel (especially on holiday weekends), we headed for the two hour trip to Columbus on Sunday. We got to Brent's house in the late afternoon and the kids enjoyed a day of playing Wii and we even kicked them out of the house in to the great big "outside" for a while. The other day when I tried to force Kayla and Shayna to go outside, you would have thought I had asked them to spend a year in a gulag. They absolutely refused to go and asked me why we keep insisting they go play outside where there is "nothing to do".

After arriving in Columbus, I asked Brent for a few details about the tournament. Since the invitation from Uncle Ronnie had come through Brent, I thought perhaps they had done something like, well you know, talked about it. Bad assumption on my part. It wasn't until Aaron left a voicemail on Saturday that I found out our tee time was AM instead of PM. That was actually a relief for me because I planned to drive up from Columbus to Cleveland on Monday morning and all the way back to Cincy on Monday night. It's hard to be out of the office especially after a three day weekend and I did not want to spend this morning (the Tuesday after the holiday) driving back. Anyway, Brent knew nothing (and I mean nothing) about the tournament. Brent is a "need to know" kind of guy. He needed to know the day, the time and the location and that's all he knew. I spent about half a hour trying to find some info on Google. But to no avail. I wanted to know things like -what type of course is it? Are there prizes? Is there breakfast/lunch? Sponsors? You know. Just general information. Something to kind of set the expectations for the day. After all, in addition to the Marion Motley Memorial Scholarship Fund Tournament, in a sense, this was the Brian Smith Birthday Tournament.

Driving up to Cleveland turned out to be quite a challenge for my goal of radical acceptance and of living in the moment. The weather sucked. I got up around 5am for a 6am departure. The trip up was Googled at 2 hours and 15 minutes and we had no idea what traffic would be like (and there's always the possibility of construction). I hate being late and with 9am SHOTGUN start, you can't be late. If you're late, you don't play. So, we hoped to get to the course around 8-8:30. The closer we got to Cleveland, the more dense the clouds. Then, about 5 minutes from the course we saw our first flashes of lightning. Then, as we pulled into the parking lot, it began to pour. I had brought no rain gear because the forecast was for mid-80s and all my raingear (the one jacket) is warm weather. Plus, Uncle Ronnie doesn't play in the rain and if he hears thunder, he is the first one back in the clubhouse. I just knew there would be no golf today. But, we had to stick around to say hi to Uncle Ronnie. OK. So, it's a holiday weekend and I'm driving hours and hours through holiday traffic to play golf in the cold and rain. These are all things I do not do and on my birthday no less.

Brent and I grabbed some breakfast (I had grits which everyone else frowned at). As 9 o'clock approached and no one had checked us in and we hadn't even gotten our clubs from the car or put our shoes on, I asked Uncle Ronnie "Shouldn't we do something?" He said "Like what?" "Like putting on our shoes. Getting our clubs." To make a long story a little shorter, now I know why the lack of concern about the 9 o'clock hour approaching. We didn't tee off until after 10!

Uncle Ronnie was in his element. He was like Norm in Cheers. The tournament was full of long-time golf buddies, ex-Cleveland Browns and people who are both. Uncle Ronnie knew every guy in the place and he took the time to introduce us to each and every one of them as we passed them. D'art (my cousin and his son) joined us for the day. Uncle Ronnie took up golf in his 30s. He is a self-taught, golf nut. He plays several times a week, always has his clubs in his car and has played all over the country as he drives to various family functions and to appointments for work. He coulda/shoulda gone pro on the senior tour. But, he only tried to qualify once and missed the cut because it started to rain and he picked up his ball before the horn blew. He cared more about getting his son back to safety than making the cut. Anyway, it's a joy to watch him play golf because he has a really interesting, very compact, very functional swing. He's about 6'2" and very lean. He could have been a power hitter. But, he's a student of the game. While all of his buddies were trying to pound the ball and spraying it all over the place, he learned to take a very short, controlled swing and put the ball exactly where he wants it to be. His view of golf is it's not about making great shots, it's about making the least amount of mistakes. And, because of that, he beats nearly everybody he plays. The young guys and the big hitters get frustrated because his swing is so efficient he can nearly drive out there with them. He hits the ball perfectly every time. His short game is amazing. So, while he's probably not going to hit the green in two on many par fives, he rarely makes a bogey and he makes enough birdies to beat just about everybody.

Another really cool thing about yesterday is D'art (amazingly) was on the golf course playing with Uncle Ronnie for the first time ever. How you grow up in a household with a semi-pro golfer (Uncle Ronnie doesn't pay for golf or for equipment- he wins his green fees back and more and he wins equipment in tournaments) and not ever go out with him astounds me. But, D'art had a great time. It was funny as he compared real golf to Wii golf or PlayStation golf. He thought it would be just like that. Watching D'arts highs (as he managed to pull off a 200 yard drive) and his lows (as he missed the ball three times in a row) was interesting. He finally got how difficult golf is and how it's not as easy as it looks on TV. Each and every put is a different speed and breaks a different way (especially at Highland Golf Club). Highland is not a modern or fancy club by any means. It's a municipal course in Cleveland. The amenities are kind of run down. And it looks easy. That is until you realize how tiny the greens are and how every single putt we had outside of 5' yesterday was a speed putt. We didn't have single birdie putt all day that you could put in the front of the hole. Everything had to be dropped in from the side. It was cool to see D'art get an appreciation for the game and an appreciation for just how good Uncle Ronnie is.

Uncle Ronnie is very special to me. Ty called him the glue that holds the family together. I don't agree with that assessment. But, he's only about 18 years older than I am. So, I remember him when he was young and single. Since grandbaby (his mother) lived with us, he came to visit a lot (and he was single and there was always a good meal to be had). He was there for a lot of holidays and never missed one of our graduations and other life events. Uncle Ronnie has done the same with all his nieces and nephews. He doesn't fly. So, he drives everywhere. Want to go to Florida? Call Uncle Ronnie, he'll give you a ride down, play golf while you do your thing, then drive you back. He's a talker, a story teller and he used to be a great tall tale teller (he's backed off of the tall tales as he now has real life experiences to share). My mother had six brothers. Uncle Michael (murdered several years ago) was really close to me. But, Uncle Ronnie is the Uncle I physically resemble most. As I get older, I can him in me more and more. I just wish I could play golf half as well as he does.

We finished up the tournament at 4 under. Not great. I played like I had never seen a golf club before (just barely better than D'art). But, I hadn't touched a club since September other than a trip to Pebble Creek the week before last and a quick trip to the driving range on Friday. We even had a bogey, which is absurd in that format.

We got back last night and I was so exhausted I couldn't sleep. Up at 5am, playing 18 holes of golf, then another 5 hours on the road coming back was a lot on this 47 year old body. But, it was a great day spent with family. It was fun watching Uncle Ronnie in his element where he is a master. It was cool watching him bond with D'art. Even though I was embarrassed by the way I played (Uncle Ronnie taught me golf over 20 years ago and I'm not much better now than I was then), it was a great birthday- one of the best ever.