Monday, August 30, 2010

Mitch Albom is Right

Mitch Albom (author of Tuesdays with Morrie and other inspirational books, sportswriter and columnist with the Detroit Free Press, and local radio personality) is a Detroit treasure, and while I don't always agree with him, his opinion is right on the mark many, many times. Take the following story he wrote in the Free Press on Sunday:

8 kids with 6 moms? NFL star is shameful


It is already one of the most embarrassing video clips in sports history, and it has nothing to do with dropped passes or missed dunks. It is footage of New York Jets defensive back Antonio Cromartie, a 26-year-old man, trying to list the names of his children.

Cromartie, in the HBO reality series "Hard Knocks," sits on the field, counting his kids on his fingers. At times he seems to struggle remembering them, and he skips one of their names altogether.

Then again, who could blame him? He has, by his own count, fathered eight children, apparently with six different women. Only at the end of his list does he say, "And I have my newborn with my wife."

So Cromartie is the new face of irresponsible fatherhood. But while he has more than earned the honor (the Jets, according to reports, had to front him $500,000 for paternity suits), he is hardly alone.

Fathering kids as if you're watering plants is a growing problem in the sports world, particularly in African-American circles. And if we are going to talk about this issue, we need to drop our sensitivities toward this fact.

No, African Americans aren't the only ones having kids out of wedlock. But, yes, the news is worst in that community, where, in recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics, 72% of new babies were born out of wedlock, versus 28% among whites and 17% among Asians. This is not in the skin. It is not about color. It's about culture.

And if the culture doesn't change, neither will the pattern.

A busy year of procreating

Cromartie, in listing his offspring on "Hard Knocks," mentions four who are around age 3. I'll never understand men who father kids as if opening Starbucks franchises. But four in one year?

That's unforgivable. Obviously, Cromartie enjoys his sex, but is it a sin to take precautions? Or does he think his seed is so special he needs to procreate on a quarterly basis?

And what about the women involved? Are they that naive? Or do some figure the fastest route to a sports star's wallet is through the delivery room?

Both parties ignore the well-documented consequences of absent fathers. Lack of guidance, discipline or demonstration of the love and respect needed in a marriage. Crime rates, dropout rates, violence rates -- all are higher for kids without fathers. It's not like this is a secret.

Yet the situation repeats, over and over. It is simply cruel. How will children ever learn their way out of the cycle? If we, in the 21st Century, have fostered a culture where "baby mama" is an acceptable term, we have little to be proud of.

"A house without a father is a challenge," Bill Cosby once wrote. "A neighborhood without fathers is a catastrophe."

A problem for our society

Travis Henry, the former NFL running back, reportedly has fathered at least 11 children with 10 different women. Evander Holyfield, the boxing champ who claims to be a man of God, fathered two children with two women a month apart -- while being married to another.

Now comes Cromartie -- on prime-time TV -- to again demonstrate how flippant fatherhood can be. He actually has the nerve to tell the camera, "Soon as you leave (work) and get home, you got to be that father figure."

He is not a father figure.

But, sadly, a white columnist bemoaning this issue won't change it in the black community. An older couple wagging fingers won't make young people listen. Critics may be dismissed with, "It's not your place to say anything."

But it is my place and it is your place, black or white or brown, because we share this country, and playing Johnny Appleseed to kids you won't tend to makes our country a more difficult place. That holds for Antonio Cromartie or Kevin Federline.

Cromartie's video is now the butt of endless Internet jokes. And almost unbelievably, Cromartie has complained only that HBO didn't show another clip in which he recited his children's names faster.

Hey, Antonio. It isn't how fast you remembered the kids. It's how fast you created them. And there's nothing funny about your story. It's sad. Really sad.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Landon and Hallie Go On an Adventure

On Wednesday Landon and I took our buddy Diamond to school at Southern Virginia University. Here are some pictures of our adventure. She is having a blast! I also met up with a friend in Ohio who I haven't seen in 24 years. We had so much fun and Landon was a great trooper with a 2 hour lunch. Love this kid!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Jungle Java and Dexter Daze

Another busy Saturday. Our friend Julie had a garage sale this morning, so we went by and bought a couple of things, most notably a Razor scooter for Landon. A few weeks ago, Landon borrowed one from our neighbors down the street, and he was a quick study, so we figured that when Julie had one, Landon's chance had arrived. Afterwards, we passed by the farmers market, where Hallie picked up a shirt for Landon. So many tempting homemade items!

Once we returned from the farmers market, we picked up our neighbors Gabi and Miles and headed off to Jungle Java, an indoor play center in Ann Arbor. Jungle Java was like a giant tree house or jungle gym or obstacle course all rolled into one. The grown ups can climb around with the kids if they'd like, or they can relax without the constant yammering of bells and sirens surfing the net on the free wireless network while sipping cool drinks and sitting in plush leather chairs. Papi Gabi, Miles, and Landon climbed and swung and slid to their hearts' content, at least until Landon banged up his ear when he fell while trying to go the wrong way up a slide. Poor little guy! A little cry, a pack of ice, and a hug later, he was back to playing.

A view of the climbing area from below.
A tree house.
Landon's war wound.

But we didn't drive out to Ann Arbor just to get a workout. We also had come to attend another Michigan summer festival: Dexter Daze in the village of Dexter, just down the road. The festivities started with a train ride, continued with face painting, and ended with an ice cream cone. With all the heat and humidity we've dealt with lately, there's always an excuse for frozen dairy. Landon's octopus-painted face matched his cool octopus hat, much to the delight of the local girls who couldn't get enough of our little rebel. A scooter ride and a bath once we got home, and Landon was done for the day.

Miles, train, Mike, Landon, and Gabi.
Landon, Hallie (in a fetching dress, I must say!), and train.
Landon was not quite sure he wanted to get his face painted once he started.
The finished product.
Landon had to get a look for himself!
Taking a ride on the scooter once we got home.
Flags flapping freely from the front porches.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Summer and peaches. They go so well together! Hallie and Mike used to go up to Brigham City's Peach Days when we lived in Utah, and Mike's grandma always made peach, plum, and apricot fruit leather each summer when his family would visit her in St. George. Since moving to Michigan, we have enjoyed our trips up to Westview Orchards to pick our own fruit and have Landon play around at the different activities. Last Saturday we took our neighbor Miles up to the orchard to pick peaches after stopping at Five Guys Burgers and Fries along Hall Road on the way (loved the amazing cooked-to-order burgers, hate the insanely busy road).

Once we got home with our peck of perfect peaches (some 12-13 pounds worth) and gave some away, we had an abundance of awesome ambrosia to cook up and serve up in a variety of ways, including:
  • sliced up and served with vanilla ice cream (and dulce de leche--qué sabroso!)
  • made into two kinds of cobbler
  • made into empanadas (handy little peach pies)
  • plain and juicy, just as nature intended
Pure heaven!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

BYU's Take on Old Spice: Study like a Scholar, Scholar

Hallie's a little weirded out by the Old Spice commercials, but Mike thinks they're hilarious. Apparently he's not the only one. Some BYU students got together to make a parody of the ads. It's about a month old, but if you haven't seen it already, enjoy!

And here's a look at how it was made:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Heart beats a little quicker

I know I have posted about us doing Foster Care before and you would think, Geez this must be going along since I have not read anything about it in so long. Not!
We completed our PRIDE training back in June and received our certificates of completion shortly after coming back from our vacation in July.
To turn in our application we had to have a physical done and a TB test. All three of us. Landon's was the easiest. Before we left on vacation in June everything was done. However getting our stuff done has taken quite a long time. Six weeks just to get in to see the Dr. for a physical and a TB shot. Mike had to get a chest x-ray due to TB exposure in Argentina.
Everything came back and was done yesterday. So today I put everything into the required envelopes that the county provided us with, and I headed down to the main office in Detroit.
Always a little anticlimactic just handing over two envelopes full of your life essentials. When I got back in the car I realized that here goes nothing, and then I rethought, no, here goes EVERYTHING.
We pray for a smooth process and one that will enrich our family and others in this process. We look forward to the time that all three of us can share our love with another child for no matter how long that time may be.
Remember that even though we are starting the Foster Care route we are always still open to adoption and please remember us in your prayers as we continue to build our family.