Summer of sports

Isn’t summer supposed to bring rest and relaxation? If not for parents who are working year round, at least for kids? I feel like Jon and I and the kids have been running around like chickens with our heads cut off more so in the last few weeks since school has been let out then throughout the entire school year. 

Mario shot straight into basketball camp a week after school was out. He went there from 9 AM until noon every day, came home and ate lunch, and headed to the pool for a few hours with his buddies. Then, he would return home to eat a sandwich and head off to the baseball field for a game. The entire family has been living on hot dogs, KitKats and Gatorade through the month of June. 

Mario is pitching this year; all last year, he could not wait to move out of coach pitch and into player pitch. He had Jon and I out back with him every night catching his pitches. He’s got a nice throw on him. His first game he struck out quite a few batters. He ran into the dugout after he pitched with a serious, intense look on his face not showing any emotion relating to his performance. He was super cool. Although, Jon and I both knew his heart was thumping and he was pumped. 


He’s been getting his bat around, too. He had a beauty of a hit to right field one game but the only player that can catch from the other team was playing right that night. He loves baseball; Jon and I agree that may be his long-term sport. 


He’s off to football camp this week from 9 am to noon again. This week is a scorcher with temps in the 90s. I made him wear sunscreen this morning and he was less than happy. 

“Nobody wears the stuff, mom. That is how I have my bronzed look.”

This comment was made after he gelled his hair into a perfect wave on his head. 


Meanwhile, our other child barely manages to gather her thick, tussled hair in a ponytail for her practices. Maria decided to do swim team this summer. I still don’t know the real reason why. I have begged her to join swim team for the last four years and she always declined. And when I say “declined”, I mean she was adamant that she had no desire to join swim team. But her friend Evelyn seemed to convince her this winter while they were playing basketball (another sport she always refused to play until recently) that she should come out to swim team. She talked about how much fun it was with the other girls and how they all just played around and had a great time together. Something that Ev said resonated with Maria and she informed me in late winter that she wanted to sign up. I didn’t hesitate; I went to the Gators website and signed her up. I thought it would be good for her to get up early in the summer and start her day. I think she romanticized about how nice it would be to do the same. As of late last week, I think she was second guessing her decision. When I went to wake her up at 6:50 AM, she kicked the covers off of her nearly kickinh me in the thigh and huffed and puffed around her room as she looked for her bathing suit.  

There is a whole other blog post waiting to be written about how proud I am of Maria going out for swim team. Most tweens, I believe, would never try out for a team where they have never practiced in that sport before and knew that they would be far behind other kids. But that did not deter Maria, who is in it for the comraderie and for the laughs. However, Maria is not superhuman and she did suffer a bit of anxiety and nerves prior to her first meet. She was unable to dive off the diving board because she was concerned about hitting her head in the water. The concussion she got in soccer last spring still messes with her at times. She also was concerned about not being fast at all and losing to a bunch of third-graders. Luckily, my girlfriend was at one of our softball games and talked with her about how these meets were all about beating your personal time and not worrying about whether you beat the person in the next lane. I also reiterated that Jon and I did not expect her to win at any meet – swim team was more of a conditioning to get her ready for soccer and to make her a better swimmer. I was up all night wondering whether I should give her an out and let her get off the team, wondering if I had put too much on her this Summer. I decided to have her do the one meet and see how it went. 

When I arrived at the pool for the meet, she had “eat my bubbles” written on her back and came running up to me with a couple of her friends smiling. I was relieved. She made it across the pool and back for each of her swims, and I was proud as heck of her. She has now gotten to the point of wanting to beat her time from the last meet – she does have her mom’s competitive spirit in her! 


Maria is also playing softball. She is in the same boat as Mario – coming home from swim, doing homework, playing with a friend, making slime, choking down some pasta, and then warming up with me prior to heading to her game. 

I decided to coach one more year since Maria will be on the middle school team next year. I think overall Maria enjoys me being her coach although there are many a times when we get on each other’s last nerve. She refuses to allow me to root for her when she is up to bat. She is doing great with her pitching – thank god – because she is one of only two pitcher for our team this year. I think she embraces that responsibility and has taken it on herself to be a leader for the girls, which means she yells at them to cheer and talk in the field! She is a mini-me in that way. 

So there we have it; evidence as to why there have been a lack of posts in June – busy, busy, busy!

Busy but bountiful

This is how we rolled on Sunday morning.


Boys stuck together and girls stuck together. Ri wanted to roller skate and I wanted to walk to Stauf’s. Jon wanted his coffee and Mario wanted to hang with his dad (and score a cinnamon roll).  We ended up meeting each other on the Avenue. The boys were grooving to music as Ri and I talked about her school project – making bath balls. They ended up following us to Stauf’s because who can pass up Stauf’s?!

After Stauf’s, we hung together through one of Mario’s basketball games and then took Ri home so she could get to her soccer scrimmage. Jon and I watched Mario’s second game and then I drove back to watch the end of RI’s scrimmage. I made sure she got started on homework and then headed backwards up north to Mario’s championship game. He almost won it (and played so hard). 

We headed back home for some evening b-ball outside. Jon and I commented how we couldn’t wait for Spring while the kids played one-on-one and poked at each other. 


These days are busy yet bountiful. I want to ensure that they are not forgotten because I’m confident they will bring us comfort and joy when the kids have moved out, and Jon and I are playing our fifth round of Yahtzee on the back porch. 

Missing the chaos

Bike home. Take the pup for a walk. Take off work clothes and put on shorts and t-shirt. Bike to Mario’s practice. Say hi to moms and watch Mario make tackles. Leave practice to head to Maria’s practice. Say hi to moms and watch Ri kick the soccer ball. Gather up Ri and her girlfriends and bike them home. Eat random foods for dinner: cmhslice of ham, noodles, cereal, Klondike bar, peas. Make the kids brush teeth. Wrestle with them. Scold them to settle down. Tell them a funny story from when I was little. Rub their backs. Turn off lights. Let the pup out. Kennel him. Eat some chocolate chips. Wash face. Brush teeth. Go to bed.

Just like I thought my evenings would be twenty-five years ago when I daydreamed about life after college.

This weekend marks the end of practices and games (at least for another month when basketball starts). Ri has four soccer tournament games – two on Saturday and two on Sunday. The first one on Saturday starts at 8 am and it’s 35 minutes away. Ugh. 

But as hectic as life has been, I find myself melancholy at the thought of it all ending. It’s a blast watching Mario in his football pads blocking Hilliard kids from tackling the receiver. It’s thrilling watching Ri get the ball and kick it to her team mate. It’s much more fun than watching them do homework or play Minecraft on the computer. And it gets our family up and moving. Jon assisted coaching Mario’s team and went to nearly every practice and every game. The boys all looked up to him and Mario loved having him around. Maria loved heading to practice to see her friends and her coaches. I loved being able to walk the pup without Mario whining that I “always have to walk the dog” (even though he stares into the computer screen the entire time he whines). 

But it does get tiring doing it every night. Mario on Monday, Thursday, Saturday and/or Sunday. Ri on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and/or Sunday. 

It will feel strange to walk in the door from work and have no plans. Be able to look over homework. Talk about our days. Make dinner. Sit together. 

Ha, who am I kidding? It’s Fall: we will be riding our bikes to the park and heading to La Tavola for an ice cream dinner. Or Ri will head to the basement with her frozen dinner to watch Say Yes to the Dress. Or Mario will go down to Quinn’s and snack. Maybe we will sit down together in Winter. Wait, there’s sled riding and playing in the snow….

   
    
    
 

Wonder Woman Saves the Week

This week felt like it lasted 30 days. My birthday on Monday created momentum for a perfect week but Tuesday quashed that momentum ten-fold. Work was intense and maddening with a score of phone calls every hour and fire-alarm situations. I didn’t get to vote in the morning so I was stressed all day about getting to the polls. I had this burning sensation that I would not get my vote casted in time and then NBC news would announce “Obama lost Ohio by one vote” and I’d be scarred for life.

Chalk another win up for women’s intuition. When I made it to the polls at 5:30 pm, I was excited to see only two people in line. The guy ahead of me shuffled back and forth and mumbled something to the poll worker. The worker shook his head sadly and stated “if your license is expired, you need a bank statement or utility bill.” I thought “what an idiot. How can you not check on your license before this big election?!”

And then I panicked. Hard. My birthday was November 5 – one day before the election. I was sure it had not expired this year – that would be crazy and unfair. I, not that guy in front of me, was extremely busy raising kids, working, volunteering, helping out Democrats, for goodness sake! If my license had expired, it should magically re-set to an expiration date of 2016 because that was only right.

I pulled out my license and there it was staring at me: Exp:2012. You got to be kidding me. I showed it to the worker just in case he thought it was still November 5 but I lost that one. I darted home to find a bank statement. I rummaged through garbage. I ripped out drawers. Nothing. Damn electronic banking.

Then my sitter saved me. “Fifth Third is open until 6:00 tonight”, he said matter-of-factly. Now that is cooperation and maturity. I believe him to be a Romney supporter yet he still coughed up those words that would allow me to possibly get in my vote. I high-fived him and the kids and sped to the bank. No line and a bank statement in three minutes. Thank the Lord. I got my vote in by 6:15 and all was good. But I crashed and burned when I got home from the furor of the day. Ri broke down a few hours later when we turned on the news to see the election status and I read from the tv “Romney 51% and Obama 49%.”

“My world won’t be safe, mom. Our world will never be the same if Obama loses.” Genuine fear and concern poured out of my bleeding heart liberal girl. I tried to clam her down but she sniffled herself to sleep.

She woke up at 6:15 begging to turn on the tv. She was ecstatic when she learned that Obama won. When Mario realized it was over and Obama prevailed, he switched sides and yelled “Yeah, Obama!” He is a fair-weathered fan making sure he always sides with the victor.

Jon had left for Illinois on Tuesday and caught that nasty flu going around. He got holed up in a hotel for two days and made it home Thursday with barely enough energy to make it up the stairs. Poor thing. I was going nuts by Friday morning and the kids could sense I needed an early morning run. We bundled up and Ri rode her bike while I strolled Mario. It was a glorious break from the car and the indoors where I had found myself all week.

Then, Mario dropped my iPad and it shattered. This week was not gonna give me a break.

I decided I needed to put my mind elsewhere and not go off on Mario; after all, I let him walk with it unprotected so I assumed some risk…. I went in the dining room and leafed through the mail. I had a little package from my sis! I had assumed it was for Jon as most packages are that come to our house. I ripped it open needing some type of sisterly goodness to get me in a better mood. And she did not disappoint.

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Again, women’s intuition. Sar knew just what I needed with that magnet espousing power (then again, it’s a pretty sure-bet that after working, raising two kids, staying active, and volunteering all week such a magnet would be a boost for any mama).

The card’s words from Walt Whitman comforted me. I felt Sarah giving me a big Menkedick sister hug as I read Walt’s words and Sarah’s words in it. And then she topped the gift off with a photocopy of Ms. Magazine’s current issue cover. Yes, it’s Wonder Woman for all my 70’s gals who grew up watching. She got a subscription to Ms. magazine for me. I love it.

I took a step back from the table and looked at the pictures Sarah also sent of the kids and Jon at the farm. Jorge’s eye captured the kids’ joy and Jon’s manliness! I brushed my finger over them and smiled… wide and long.