11 Reasons to Read My Blog. You Won't Believe What Happens Next!

The interwebs sure have changed since I started blogging three and a half years ago. As I attempt to rebuild Building Castles on the Beach after basically bypassing 2013 and the first half of 2014, I notice that many of the sites I read and enjoyed before when I was a full tilt blogger haven't posted anything for months or even years, or have even discontinued their blogs altogether. A recent culling of the blogs I officially follow has shown that at least two of my formerly favorite websites have been co-opted by porn. These are blogs I had direct links to in the margins of my own posts. I would be embarrassed if I thought anyone was actually visiting my own site during the time those links would have been active. The other major difference is the kind of writing that seems to get read on the interwebs. I'm reminded of the commotion in the 90's about the popularity of the "newspaper" (look it up, kids!) called USA Today . It was frequently criticized due to th

World Cup Soccer Explained. Finally!

I'm still not over my disappointment in Brasil's sleep walk of a performance against Germany. So I'm not going to talk about that. Instead, with the finals looming, this might be my last chance for four years to defend some aspects of the World Cup that neophytes and ardent fans alike don't seem to appreciate. This is funny. But patently untrue.  The first thing I want to mention is that soccer is a contact sport. I don't share this now to make some tired comparison about how American football requires all kinds of pads and aren't soccer players tough and such. I say this to direct your focus as a viewer away from the sprawling green field the television camera shows you for most of the game. The pitch is long and wide (I won't say it's the longest and widest of all the sports because I don't know all the sports, but it's got to be close), and if you tend to get bored when one team passes the ball around for an interminable amount of time

Father's Day and the World Cup

I don't follow sports. I don't watch the Super Bowl, not even for the commercials. I don't know who's in the NBA finals right now, though I am mindful of professional sports seasons and don't quite understand why the basketball season extends into the summer. And while I coach soccer and even play it myself (old man, coed rec league), the last time I watched a soccer game on TV was four years ago when Spain beat the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final. Only the guy on the right is supposed to use his hands. Growing up, I loved soccer but was only vaguely aware of something called the World Cup. I guess I have a memory of Maradona's "Hand of God" goal in 1986, but I can't recall if I watched it live or just heard about it later. I don't know if any TV station in the United States would have even broadcast the World Cup final at that time. In 1990, I was in Brazil, and suddenly the World Cup actually meant something. As a missionar

Respect is good, but latinum's better.

I was coaching a soccer game last week and something happened that has stuck with me enough to kick-start my long-neglected blog. (Just don't expect this to become a habit again.) Okay, so the other team was leading 1-0. But that's not the thing that happened. This is what it feels like when doves cry. When your opponent scores first, things get tense. Your players on the field get anxious and start fouling more. On the sideline, your players on the bench start grousing more and want to tell the referee what to do. And you, the coach, yell a lot more, as if anyone on the field can actually hear what you're saying. There's this burden that wasn't there just a moment before: a weight on your shoulders or a wall to climb or a monkey on your back, and with every minute that passes without a reciprocal goal, the weight gets heavier and the wall gets taller and the monkey gets angrier. One of the opposing team's captains was this bigger kid whose mere presen

The Christmas Tree and Other Irritations

So, mostly I just gush about the boy all the time around here. But I'm noticing our Christmas tree over in the corner and it's looking sad. In the past, dozens of different kinds of ornaments have adorned its branches. We don't follow any certain style; over the years, we've collected a variety of flavors. Some fancy crystal, some homemade felt. Some green and red balls, some tourist souvenirs. But place them all overlapping the festive blinking lights, fill the room with more eclectic tastes of the season, and the tree appears downright elegant. Here's what it looks like this year: That looks even worse than in real life. Here. It looks slightly better with the lights on, but you can't really tell how the ornaments are distributed. It's just such a mess, I'm embarrassed to even post these pictures. Any guesses why it looks this way? Generally, Xander's pretty great. But the fact that he's turned our Christmas tree into this mockery

Big Boy Bed

I don't know where my son is right now. I'm pretty sure he's in his room. I'd have heard the door open if he'd escaped. But exactly where he is in that room? That's a mystery. I could check. A good inch-wide gap separates his bedroom door from the floor, the result of wall-to-wall carpeting however long ago. These days we go with naked hardwood. If I lie on the floor a little ways down the hall, I can get something of a view inside the room. But right now, I think all I'd see is blankets piled on the floor, tossed off the bed. Not long ago, a monkey foot wrapped in footie pajamas forced its way under the door in an effort to escape the confines of the room then got stuck there. I had no choice but to open the door and replace the monkey boy back into his big boy bed. Thus began Xander's first night sleeping without a crib. A couple of days ago, the boy was committing some random terrorism around the house and ended up in time out. His mother and

Trains and the Two-Year-Old Boy

At two-years-old, Xander can't get enough out of trains. He wakes up in the morning calling out, "Choo choo!" Mom and Dad hear it through the baby monitor, and it's enough to make me want to ditch the whole system. If he wants me to wake up, he can climb out of the crib and say "choo choo!" at me in person. I don't think Mom is there yet, though. When we finally pull him from the crib, then, he runs to wherever he was last night with his trains before being forced to give them up in favor of a pacifier and cup of milk. He carries at least three trains in his arms, wanders around the house, sometimes putting the trains on a track, sometimes just pushing them around the floor or couch or table or bathtub, always with the mantra, "Trains. Choo choo. Trains. Choo choo" on his lips. And the perpetual smile is kinda creepy. He watches a variety of train-related videos during the day. Thomas the Tank Engine is one of the favorites, much to m