Thursday, September 26, 2013

Go Blue! Children's Stool

A year ago I posted about painting little step stools for my great nephews for Christmas, just after they turned one.  Painted footstools have become a bit of a family tradition since I have painted stools for my children, nieces, and nephews over the years.  Lately, I was able to find beautiful step stools that have made designing and  painting these cute this stools even more fun!  These unfinished stools can be found at  Last spring, I received an email from a co-worker of my SIL who was interested in having me paint a stool for her grandson, Parker.  She was interested in a stool that featured the University of Michigan football.  I came up with a few ideas, but eventually asked her if she would consider the University of Michigan with a number of sports/ sports equipment.  She agreed, so I sent her a rough draft and asked for any changes.  She didn't have onward I went.

This is the stool that I painted for my little nephew, Henry.

And, this is the stool that I painted for my little nephew, Hudson.

To say that designing this stool was fun, is an understatement.  First of all, we are "Michigan " fans, so painting with primarily maize and blue was a blast.  I decided to focus on a locker room with all kinds of sports equipment.  The University of Michigan is a large "Big 10" school and has a huge variety of sports teams.  I had lots of sports equipment to choose from, however, I took liberty in adding anything that might be fun for a 2 year old to look for.  For example, I don't think that "Michigan" has a "Boomerang Team!"  I was hoping to design a stool that might be fun for Parker to use as a toddler and continue to engage his interest as he grows.    Right now, the stool is probably something to climb on or a "Seek and Find" game.  But, later, it might be true sports fan memorabilia.   My son, who is a "Michigan" grad, asked me if I planned to make a stool like this for, it may be interesting to Parker as he grows up.   I added a few other items of interest for a "Michigan fan"...the "Little Brown Jug" is the trophy that gets passed back and forth between the University of Michigan and the University of Minnesota.  I also added the "Paul Bunyan Trophy,"  a trophy that is passed back and forth between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

I put Parker's name on the sports jerseys, but the numbers are those of some of the legendary University of Michigan players:

Baseball- Bill Freehan #11, who played for the Detroit Tigers as a catcher for 15 years after his play for "Michigan."
Football- Tom Harmon #98, who was a Heisman trophy winner, later was a pilot in the Army Air Corps during WWII, then played for the Los Angeles Rams before becoming a sports broadcaster.
Hockey- Red Berenson #9, after graduating from "Michigan" he played professionally for the Montreal Canadiens, NY Rangers, St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings, and returned to "Michigan" as their hockey coach in 1984, and continues to be their coach to this day.
Basketball- Cazzie Russell #33, After playing at the University of Michigan, he played 12 seasons in the NBA, most notably with the New York Knicks.  He eventually coached at the college level.
Soccer- I placed a number 2 on the soccer jersey to commemorate Parker's 2nd birthday.

I hope that Parker will enjoy his stool; I am so pleased that I was asked to paint it.

 "Those who stay will be champions" is a saying that is associated with the University of Michigan's good inspiration for all of us to work hard to succeed!

Have a wonderful weekend...and Happy Birthday Parker!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Go Get 'Em, Detroit Tigers!!

No, this isn't the zoo, it's Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers Baseball Team
This is such a fun time of year, especially if you love sports!  Baseball, Football, Tennis..aaah...  We recently celebrated Labor Day and had a long weekend to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall.  Of course, this makes no sense if you look at the temperature, it's 94 degrees outside today!  But, after "Indian Summer" is over (and who knows when that will be!), cool, crisp days will follow, with the changing color of the leaves, and harvest goodies everywhere!  My husband and I were invited to spend the long Labor Day weekend at my son's home...and we had lots of plans!  He lives in the Detroit, MI, area with all kinds of things to do.  We decided to start the weekend watching a Detroit Tiger's baseball game.

Baseball has always been a part of my life.  My  Dad loved to play baseball, and I've been told he was really good.  It seems that World War II may have interrupted some baseball dreams.  With a Dad who loved the game, naturally, my brother and I loved to play, too.  My brother started playing in the YMCA little leagues, but to my knowledge, back in the day, there wasn't any organized leagues for girls.  So, when I was younger, I went to all of his games.  I actually got to play baseball, but mostly with my older brother and his friends.  They would gather a group of boys and head to the baseball diamond at our elementary school.  And yes, my brother would let me come along.  (He was/is a good brother)  When it came time to "choose up sides," I held my breath.  All boys and one girl.....but I wasn't the last one chosen. 

Comerica Park, but I still call it Tiger Stadium!
My brother was/is a good player, too.  A true left handed, first baseman.  I usually played short stop.  When we had family reunions with my Dad's family, I remember that we seemed to always have a family baseball game.  I liked to watch my aunts play, and I wanted to play just like them; they really "dug in," if you know what I mean.  I was pretty small at the time and was usually on my Dad's team. Once, when it was my turn at bat, as I went to home plate, my cousins and uncles all moved in close.   I heard my Dad chuckle.  Yes, I hit the ball over their heads...  My Dad was so proud of me.  It's funny what you remember so clearly.  And no, I wasn't always able to hit the ball like that, but that day was really fun for me!

My brother always preferred slow pitch baseball, so didn't play for our school teams.  But, we had a nice church league where he played.  My dad was coach, and I was the score keeper.  There was a women's church league, and my Dad organized a girl's team from our church.  When I say Women's League,  I mean just that.  Our team would arrive, mostly  middle and young high school players, and the other team would arrive, the women driving, bringing their kids, and smoking cigarettes.  It was a bit daunting....yeah, we were out of our league.  I usually pitched or played short stop.  If I remember correctly, we lost most of our games, but it was fun.  We definitely improved over the season, and our coach had the patience of a saint...only positive comments.  Thank goodness

I haven't played baseball in a loooong time.  My nephew loved to play baseball when he was younger, and never arrived anywhere without his bases, ball, bat, and glove.  I used to play baseball with him in the yard.  It was fun.  Then, we got to watch him play organized baseball, just like old times....he had quite the cheering section!  My two nieces, my brother's girls, were/are amazing players.  My brother was their coach.  Girl's fast!  Then my son was old enough to play organized baseball, and I was able to watch with a whole new perspective.  I wish my Dad had lived to see his grandchildren play, he could have coached a whole new generation!  We now have a whole new generation of up and coming ballplayers...they're toddlers, but already working on their skills.  I can't wait for their first T-ball game!

My Mom loves baseball, too.  She went to every opening day with her father when she was small.  We took her to a baseball game for her 80th birthday and had her name up on the big scoreboard.  Yep, baseball has always been a part of my life.  Every summer memory seems to have the baseball game on the radio in the background....Yes,  the Detroit Tigers.  So, going to a Tiger's game every summer is a must!

As you can see, the new ball park is amazing.  I just love the sculpted Tigers everywhere! Our seats were pretty good,  left field, right by the foul ball post.

Everyone is welcomed to the ball park by this huge Detroit Tiger.  When you hear negative stories about Detroit, think of this beautiful ball park, right down town, where thousands of people come to watch their baseball team.

The Tiger score board.  To the left you can see Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions football team plays.

Tigers warming up- top-Miguel Cabrera....out hitting star,  Left- Alex Avila...our starting catcher, Right- Rick Porcello...starting pitcher the night we were there.
 Our family has always chosen favorite players.  When I was younger, our favorites stayed around for along time...Al Kaline was mine.  But, I will admit that I liked Willie Mays, and Don Drysdale (not Tigers), because they were on the Donna Reed Show.  Anyone remember that show?  Anyway, our favorites have changed as many of our originals have been traded.  My current favorite is Austin Jackson, center fielder.  I tend to lean toward outfielders who are fast runners.  My son's favorite is Prince Fielder,  first baseman and amazing hitter,  my husband's is Torii Hunter, right fielder and a recent trade from the Minneapolis Twins,  and my daughter's favorite is Jose Iglesias, short stop.  We tend to influence her choices as she is not as big a fan as we are.  She tends to choose her favorites according to their names,  Her former favorite was Placido Polanco, and now it's Iglesias.  She's a musician, can you tell? 

This wall is located in left field to honor some of the Detroit Tiger's baseball legends.  I remember watching two of these players...Willie Horton, and of course, Al Kaline.  It's hard to see in this picture, but there is a sculpture of each player above their names.  Really nice!
A peak of Detroit in the background

We played the Cleveland, Indians on the night of this game and won!  I had to show this picture with two Tigers on base.  The night was extremely hot, with very little breeze.  Suddenly during the 7th inning, bright flashes of lightning lit up the sky.  It started to rain.  We were going to stay, the rain drops felt good, but the rain turned into a downpour and the game was called.  Baseball is baseball...unpredictable!

I know that there are those who think the game is slow and boring....but I really enjoy it.  It's a game anyone can play, it can be tense and exciting, loyalty to a team is fun and can be rewarding, especially when your team makes it to the play's America's past time, right?

Yes, Baseball has been a wonderful part of my life.  Here is a picture of my dad and his family, he is the boy on the left with the bat and ball in his hand!

I would love to hear about your baseball memories...did you play, did you go the the ball park, what team did you follow, etc.?

Hope you have a great week!   Play Ball!!!