Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming

Ian left for Germany yesterday. While there was much excitement and anticipation leading up to this trip, I can't begin to tell you the full range of emotions we experienced yesterday as he left. I think this has hit Michele very hard. Giving up our fourteen year old son to strangers for a week and a half was tough. Add the distance (4000 miles) between us, and it made for an emotional "gute reise" or "bon voyage."

Yet, this is such a great opportunity for him. It is also a fine reward for all of the hard work he has put forth to get to this point. Ian will be playing soccer against some of the top youth teams in Europe this week. His U-14 Olympic Development Program (ODP) team left Cincinnati for Frankfurt last night. He has played with or against most of the kids on this team at various club tournaments over the past few years, so I've gotten to know a few of them. It really is a nice bunch of boys. However, the kids were so excited to leave that they were mostly oblivious to the adults in the airport.

Ian called us at 8:00 AM this morning. He arrived safely, and has already done a little sight-seeing. The team has a tour bus with a full-time guide for the entire trip. Therefore, they will be able to see some of the sights between games as they travel through Germany and Holland. This morning, his team took a cable car ride through the vineyards and across the Rhine River, on their way to Cologne. After a brief stop to tour the Cologne Cathedral, they will end up in the little town of Straelen, located on the Germany/Holland border, which will serve as their home base for the next week. They'll be staying at the Straelener Hof, with the entire hotel reserved for the U-14 boys AND girls teams (yes, this was a hot topic this past week).

The boys team flew to Germany with two team administrators, two coaches, and a few parents. However, the parents do not travel with the boys, nor stay with them in the team hotel. Essentially, they travel as spectators or fans for the games. They also have a different tour itinerary. As much as I would have liked to have gone on this trip, the cost prevented me from going...and Ian didn't seem too disappointed for some reason. Yet, it will not be ALL fun and games for him. Ian will still have to do his school work, read, and write (daily) in a journal. I've also heard rumors of plans for a blog to be written during their stay. If I receive more details of the blog, I'll provide a link.

Tomorrow, the team is planning a trip to The Netherlands, with a stop in Amsterdam for a visit to the Anne Frank House. They will also visit a traditional cheese farm and clog maker. I asked Ian to take as many pictures as possible. He even took an extra memory card. We'll see if he can keep his promise to take lots of pictures, but avoid the red light district. Actual games begin on Monday against SV Straelen in Germany. GO OHIO & GO USA !!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Sixth Challenge

My sister Diane gave me the following challenge from her blog:

1. Go to the photos folder in your computer.
2. Go to the sixth folder.
3. Go to the sixth picture.
4. Put the picture on your blog along with a description.
5. Invite six friends to join the challenge.

So, here is the picture:

This photo was not staged. Our pets are just freaks. Of course, it could be a sign that we are headed for a disaster of biblical proportions. You know, "human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!" The dog (Guinness) and cat (Murphy) appear to genuinely like each other. However, they do compete mightily for Michele's attention during all waking hours. Yet, at the end of the day, you can find them using each other as pillows.

Our other cat (Yoshi) is highly neurotic and skittish. Therefore, it's very surprising that he is comfortable enough to sleep on the dog. However, I must admit that EACH of us have used the dog as a pillow at some point in time.
Finally, while looking in this folder, I found this picture of Ian & Nathan which was taken in our yard last year. The quality of the photo is not great, but it did capture a common sight... hearty laughter resulting from a joke shared only among brothers.