Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Durham Bulls

Rachel was rather excited for her last rehearsal before the baseball game. She was a little fed up with having to rehearse for things, between the musical and this, but I think both were great things for her to do (and I think she agrees with me).

We made it to the stadium a few minutes before the gates opened. Ordinarily they open the gates an hour before the game starts but due to impending weather they moved the start time a half hour earlier...but opened the gates at the same time, so it was absolutely imperative that we arrive on time since it left us very little wiggle room for getting lost or anything like that. We dropped Rachel off with the choir and found our seats.

Here's Zoë enjoying a bit of the pre-game festivities (her favourite parts of the game were the music and all the clapping):

We were sitting way out in the outfield so Andrew went a little closer to see if he could get a better view. I think he did, slightly.

So, there's a guy in a blue jacket with a blue baseball cap on in about the middle of the picture. Do you see him (by the guy in grey)? Rachel is standing to the left of him (he's covering up one of her legs). Super exciting.

And here's a shot of her up on the big screen (she's the third child on the right of the conductor):

Rachel and Miriam abandoned us to sit with their friends:

They actually spent quite a bit of time running around with their friends, eventually even caving to peer pressure and getting their faces painted (my kids have all been very opposed to face painting for whatever reason). I offered to let Miriam and Benjamin stand in line for the free face painting (I said no to the $12/hour playground and the $5/bag cotton candy) when we were on our way to the bathrooms once and I saw the line was only three kids long. The painter had a tip jar, so it's obvious they were hoping to be paid, but it at least looked like an activity that wouldn't eat too big of a hole in our wallets. They both refused.

So then later Rachel and Miriam spent a good chunk of time waiting in that very same line to get their faces painted. But they were waiting with their friends, which I think they thought was cooler than waiting with their mother (for whatever reason). Eventually four little girls made their way back to their parents with matching fireworks adorning their cheeks.

I don't think any of those four little girls was sent off with any money and I think the face painter knew that because this design was pretty simple compared to what I saw some other kids walk away with, but I'm totally okay with that (and I think the painter knew he'd get a bunch of kids like that when he put up a sign that said FREE).

Before the game started, Andrew leaned over and said something about how we might grab the kids and cut out early (baseball's not really our jam) but about at the same moment an announcement was made about "Friday Fireworks" after the game!

"Fireworks!" Benjamin squealed. "I want to see the fireworks! We saw them once at the temple! I like fireworks! Can we watch the fireworks? Can we? Can we? Can we? Please?"

And thus our fate was sealed. Lucky for us the game had started half an hour early!

Waiting for the fireworks was hard for this little guy because baseball is a teensy bit boring. The biggest complaint I hear about soccer is that it's a "low-scoring game" and people bandy this argument about as if it's a negative thing. They need to take a step back and look at America's pastime because I'm pretty sure baseball isn't exactly a high-scoring game.

We won this game 4 to 0. So...that's pretty much a low score. At least with soccer there's a bit of action to pull you to your feet. Baseball simply doesn't do that for me. The only point I was almost pulled to my feet was when a homer (that's a thing, right?) was hit our direction.

"Look out!" Andrew said and my life flashed before my eyes a little bit because I know I'm not very skilled at catching baseballs and I was holding a baby on my lap and...

The man in front of me (Brother Austin, who played "Grandpa" in the musical) stood up, put his hand out, and snatched that ball right out of the air, as easy as you please. Someone came by to make sure no one got hit and to make sure Brother Austin's hand was alright. Apparently a few years ago when Jill, his wife, had gotten up with their then-baby and was pegged in the thigh with a baseball as she was making her way around the stadium. It left a lovely bruise on her leg that lasted for weeks.

Baseballs are drawn to their family, it seems.

Anyway, our team won the game, which meant the bull's eyes glowed red, its tail wagged wildly, and it snorted steam. The kids thought that was amazing. I couldn't get a good picture because Zoë was bouncing on my lap, shrieking.

And then it was finally time for fireworks! They dimmed the stadium lights and pulled a trailer out onto the field, all loaded up with fireworks and ready to go. It was quite the show. I was expecting a few piddly fireworks, but this was rather spectacular.

Zoë couldn't take her eyes off of them (except that she had to blink every time they went boom):

Benjamin was rather surprised by all the noise they made. The fireworks he remembers happened way off in the distance so his ears weren't assaulted by the explosions. He covered his ears with his hands and stayed like that for the whole show. Later he said, "The fireworks were my favourite part, except for the loudness."

One of the fireworks exploded right on the field, which was spectacular to watch but also rather scary. Not, however, as scary as the firework that exploded over the outfield and showered us with debris! Brother Christensen got hit by a piece of the firework tube and people were quickly brushing little flaming bits of...whatever fireworks are made of themselves. That was a little more excitement than we'd bargained for!

Look who finally decided to rejoin our family! Rachel was off with her friends the whole time! How do we have a kid old enough to do stuff like that?!

We made the kids sit for a picture by the field before we left:

We haven't been to a baseball game since Benjamin was itty bitty and who knows if/when we'll ever go again. We have to document this while we can.

On our way out of the stadium the kids were each handed a helium balloon. Benjamin enjoyed walking around with his so much it was ridiculous. He had a big, punchy grin on his face the whole time, and acted like he was walking around with his best friend.

All in all it was a positive Durham Bulls experience. Ready for a less positive experience with a bull in Durham? Here we go...

I'm a little cynophobic.

Part of me understands how someone could not understand that dogs terrify me. I just found out that I have not one but two friends who suffer from globophobia (Lindsay, you're the second). That's a hard phobia for me to understand (and look how I so carelessly placed a picture of my little boy holding a balloon right above this), I've got to admit, but, it's a phobia, right, so I don't have to understand it for it to be serious. Dogs though. Those I understand being afraid of (oh, boy, do I ever understand being afraid of dogs). Even as I look at myself and think, "You're being ridiculous," I just can't help but be absolutely 100% terrified of anything remotely canine.

Actually, I was reading about it and some people can't even stand to look at pictures of dogs or watch movie scenes with dogs or anything like that. I'm not that bad. But throw me in with an actual dog and all bets are off. I loose my head. It's crazy.

Want to know the difference between balloons and dogs?

Balloons don't look at you and/or "smell your fear," as my mom would say, and think to themselves, "What is up with that girl? I better go check her out!"

The very thing that I'm afraid of is attracted to me. It would be like suddenly becoming statically charged at the sight of balloons, drawing them to you. The stuff of nightmares for someone with globophobia, I'd imagine.

Dogs are statically charged to me. Awesome. (Wow.)

Last week I dropped off a book I'd borrowed from my friend Annie when I picked her son up for a carpool (to one of the rehearsals for the baseball game choir, which, let's all applaud me for overcoming my fear of driving (I'm not an anxious person at all, thanks for asking (I'm totally an anxious person))). Her dog came out of the house—a sweet, little thing named Lucy—and I was like, "You have to come get your dog, Annie. I literally cannot walk to my car." Why? The dog was standing between me and my car, happily wagging its tail...but barking.

I probably would have been able to stride past it (with my nerves prickling the whole way) had it not been barking, but it was barking. I could not move. Could. Not. Move. Because of a sweet little Lucy dog.

So, yesterday, I took the kids on a little walk. We go for a lot of walks. Walking is good for you.

The only downside to walking around this pleasant little country of ours is that there's an estimated 70 to 80 million pet dogs in America. That means around 37 to 47% of all households own dogs. That means my phobia is literally lurking behind the fence of nearly every other house I see, except when they're not behind their fences (and then I'm having a really bad day, for sure).

Anyway, I took the kids for a walk. Zoë was in her little red push-car, the wheels of which make a terrific racket on the asphalt. So, we're walking along, enjoying the day, when suddenly we were being charged, head on, by a very athletic-looking pit bull.

Barking, jumping, muscles-rippling, he started running circles around us.

"Go home!" I ordered. "Go home!"

In response the dog barked at me and tightened his circle a little bit.

A car had stopped a few houses up the street and was just staring at the spectacle: a crazy lady with two babies being tormented by a dog.

I waved at the car. "Please help!" I said.

In response the dog barked at me and tightened his circle a little bit more. The car—rather, the person in the car—did nothing. They just sat and watched us.

I picked Benjamin up and stood as protectively over Zoë as I could, hoping her push-car would protect her a little, all the while cursing its noisy wheels, which is probably what alerted the dog to our presence in the first place.

"Go home!" I pleaded again. "Help us! Help! HELLO! WE NEED HELP!"

I didn't know what else to do. I couldn't walk anywhere. The dog was so excited that he was probably willing to follow me to the end of the planet by this point. Zoë thought the dog was great and kept barking back at it. Benjamin was terrified out of his mind (so if he didn't already have a dog phobia he probably will now (nice going, me)) and was literally trying to crawl onto my shoulders.

"HELP!" I bellowed again and two things happened at about the same time.

Another car pulled up beside us, but the driver of this car actually got out of his car, as if he was actually planning on helping us (thank you, kind sir) and another neighbour—none other than our friend W. Moss—ran down the street toward us yelling, "Tank! Tank! Get down!"

In response "Tank" continued to run laps around us, barking and being a general menace until Mr. Moss managed to get a hold of him. He apologized profusely—"Sorry, ma'am!"—and carried his dog back to his house.

Shakily, I escorted my sweet babies home, where I texted Andrew to say that I'd just Nancy Heissed Mr. Moss.* He sent back a question mark so I wrote, "Let's just say that if you have a dog named Tank and said dog is built like a tank you'd better be sure he stays in your yard." Not that I actually said anything to Mr. Moss about his dog, because I didn't, but he showed up at our door, still apologizing (yes, he knows where we live—in the house with far too many children in it).

"He's a rescue pit. I don't even like him, myself, but one of my sons brought him home. He's really sweet once you get to know him, but he's mostly a house dog. We don't have any kids at home. He's never really been around children. We let him in the backyard to run around and do his business, but he's mostly a house dog. He dug a hole under the fence. It about scared me to death to see him charging at your babies like that! I'm going to fix that fence up real quick!"

It about scared you to death?! Well, that makes at least two of us.

I thanked him for apologizing and told him I thought the dog was probably excited by Zoë's little car, and that I don't react well to dogs, which makes them not react well to me. It's kind of a positive feedback loop. Things get crazy, real quick.

Mr. Moss said that's no excuse—responsible dog owners don't allow their dogs to go charging at pedestrians. I quite agree. He said he hopes it will never happen again. Once again, I completely agree because I'm pretty sure Tank is basically my worst nightmare incarnate—or incainate, if you will.

And now I'm a teensy bit afraid to leave our cul-de-sac, but I went on a family walk this evening anyway because although I'm completely cynophobic I'm also pretty brave (once I even went dog-sitting (so brave)).

(And to finish my point about balloons, while I don't understand being afraid of balloons, I don't think it's silly because phobias are real and terrible to suffer from. I used to feel silly being afraid of dogs, worried that people would think I'm silly, too, but I think, maybe, instead they think, "I don't understand that fear, but what an awful thing that must be." If that's not the case, don't tell me otherwise; let me keep the dignity I've collected).

 *not his real name


  1. Sorry about that inherited fear. And that first picture is actually NOT Miriam. Although they do look like each other a fair bit.

  2. I think you should get small dog. A tiny one. I am terrified of dogs but when I was 16 my mom got the sweetest cooker spaniel you've ever seen. I still don't like big dogs or barking dogs but for the most part I don't freeze anymore. My neighbors son brings this little yappy dog over. He is so barky the kids were terrified to go outside. Then I looked out. He is the size of a rat. "Guys," I said, "you could kick that dog and he would fly through the air." I don't know why, but that helped. Now they chase that barking dog all over the place. Pits are big and strong though. In general I think they are nice dogs but they make me nervous. We are reading homeward bound and the dog in there does that circle thing and then Rams another dog. You are lucky he didn't ram you! Popping balloons freak me out to. I have to cover my ears when they are popping. As do shots, but that is one I've just had to get over. And spiders but I can now squish them with a shoe. And heights. Remember when I wouldn't got to the high alter in Petra but Jason makes me do a high hike like once a year so I'M getting better. And rodents...mice and rats, but that fear I can't get over. Baseball is boring. The pits...but so is soccer....the field is to big. Indoor soccer or beach soccer is awesome. Hockey is low scoring and it is awesome. I just think it is the length of time between player interactions that makes the other two bore me. But then I also hate football...way too long....

    1. Football kills me. Sooo boring. :)

      Hockey and soccer at least have quite a bit of movement and, if you're lucky, a bit of drama. :D Basketball, too.

  3. Football and baseball are the boringest. And also the most celebrated in this country! Some things are just incomprehensible to me. Because why? I just don't get the attraction of those sports.