Friday, September 15, 2006


It really goes without saying that Monte loves football. It started back when he was 5 and he realized the bond it created with his dad--at times it was the only bond. He studied it, memorized stats and fell in love with the Miami Dolphins and then later the Florida Gators. But it's more than just facts and plays swirling around in his head, he is passionate about the game, whoever is playing. Too bad he never played it. Instead he played soccer. So when the time came for McDaniel to be eligible to play, there was no question, she was going to play.

He started last fall as the assistant coach filling in when the head coach was traveling for work. This year he decided to sign up as the head coach. As the father of 2 girls, Soccer Sundays is as close as Monte is going to get to Football Friday nights. But he'll take it--it's not without its highlights.

Last night, Monte had the first practice. The team is divided into two: 1st graders on one team and 2nd graders on another. He arrived extremely early to be ready with team information packets and I came later with snack sign-up sheets and Ellie. I noticed as I passed around the clipboard and introduced myself that there was an older gentleman dressed in athletic gear that people were referring to as "Coach". Keep in mind that everyone was also calling Monte "Coach Hartranft". I thought to myself, "How sweet, a grandfather is going to coach the 1st grade team".

As Monte gathered the girls for a warm-up of jumping jacks and a run around the field, he pulled me aside and told me he was nervous. "Really?" I asked. "Why?" After all, he had helped coach before. "That's John Cooper over there." John Cooper…?John Cooper…Oh, JOHN COOPER! The former OSU college football coach John Cooper. He was there watching his 1st grade granddaughter practice.

He discreetly pointed out the prominent spectator to his assistant coach who replied, "So? He doesn't know soccer." It put Monte at ease and the practice proceeded with the normalness that is young girl soccer. Lots of giggles, ballet plies, unrelated questions and more giggles.

Practice concluded with John Cooper telling Monte, "See you next week!" Whoa, he's coming back?

I know it has always tugged at Monte's heart to drive by pee-wee football practice in the fall in a station wagon full of pink princess purses and ruffle dresses. But John Cooper was at HIS girl's soccer practice! Monte came home and called up his buddies, including my dad. Too bad his father has passed away and they couldn't bond again as always through football. As I said before, being a soccer coach isn't without its highlights.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


As a parent we pretty much assume that our routine is going to include predominantly giving. Giving our children love through hugs and kisses. Giving our children nourishment through food and drink. Giving our children shelter, clothing, medicine when they are sick. In general, giving them a safe place to grow. Except for the occasional splinter and pretzel up the nose, we're not really prepared to extract things from our children. At least WE weren't.

Ellie has been playing the "holding it" game since July. She holds it and holds it and holds it and HOLDS IT until she literally can't sit down and then she tries to hold it some more by doing what we finally recognized as the "Poop Walk". She would pace the floor, going from room to room occasionally leaning against a chair or table to try to fight her body's needs for just a little bit longer. The game finally timed out when she would wet herself (always on the dining room rug) and then have to be carried to the bathroom screaming in pain. Sounds like fun, huh! It gets better.

After a month of this self-inflicted faux-constipation, we sought the help of a doctor who put her on numerous stool softeners, laxatives and extreme fiber-rich diets. Nothing worked. This girl could out last a cocktail of the aforementioned that would give an elephant explosive diarrhea. She held it until her intestines were so full that child birth would have been easier. She's 4.

So not wanting to go through that struggle again, she continued the holding it game. After an especially long "Poop Walk" Monte decided to talk with the pharmacist at CVS who recommended a suppository. Nothing happened--she didn't even flinch. Two hours later, Monte was back at CVS begging for another alternative. He came back with an enema. I've never had one nor do I recommend them but it FINALLY broke the streak of the holding it game. Monte couldn't watch (he wasn't around for the suppository either). Three days later, Ellie was back to her old tricks. So back to the doctor we went. After a rectal exam and other poking and prodding, the doctor determined she was indeed "full of it" and put her on a prescription strength medicine used to prepare your body for medical procedures (this is the type of thing my brother calls Colon Blow). She encouraged us to help Ellie get over the psychological obstacles of going to the bathroom. So poop is a hot word at our house. At any given time you'll hear us say, "Pooping is fun" or "Who wants to be part of the Poop Club?" (Monte came up with that one). We also go through a list of everyone in our family (distant and immediate) who, in fact, poops. Educations are hard at work here.

Things are slowly getting more normal for Ellie. The Colon Blow (that's not really what it's called) certainly did its job--on the floor, every step leading upstairs, in the hallway, on the bathroom floor and all over the bathtub. That was right before the babysitter rang the doorbell which I had to answer wearing rubber gloves and holding a spray bottle of bleach. "Oh, just doing some spring cleaning!" Monte walked by wearing rubber gloves as well holding Ellie's soiled dress as if it were explosive (of another nature). "Oh hi, Kate! Thanks so much for watching the girls for us!" he said as if he were reading the paper and not holding something unmistakably, horrifyingly poopy. We left to attend Ellie's school and meet her preschool teachers. In the middle of it, I had to ask Monte in a whisper, "Do I smell like poop?" Of course, there was no way he could tell. It was on our brains, in our hair, on our clothes and deeply imbedded into our senses. Except for Ellie coming home from a playdate yesterday with an "accident" in her drawers ("Mom, I didn't know how to tell what happened") it seems to be getting better each day.

In the middle of all the Poop Walks and doctor visits, McDaniel started getting wiggly teeth--four, to be exact. She'd pick one and wiggle it with her fingers and then her tongue until she couldn't stand it anymore and beg to have it yanked out of her mouth. Monte went through grand ceremonies involving dental floss, doorknobs, pliers and lots of tears and frustration. I just reached in her mouth and pulled it out. After each tooth came out, Monte was exhausted, "Why have we had to work so hard to get things OUT of our girls?"

McDaniel has lost all four now (she has her permanent front teeth and bottom teeth, these are the ones beside them) so her smile looks like a jack-o-lantern or someone from Deliverance. Her letters to the tooth fairy are nothing short of an investigative report, searching for loop holes in her enchanted toothy story. Last night, she left a note for T.F. (as she likes to refer to the tooth fairy) that she wanted one of MY teeth in addition to money. Eew. "I can't," answered T.F. Apparently the tooth fairy is better at taking things (having had nothing to do with the extraction) than giving them back. Hmmm…I wonder if she needs an assistant.

I Can't Make This Stuff Up

If I could, I wouldn't be so surprised when crazy things happen. And they do. All the time. Much to my surprise. We went o...