Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

for the love of the game

Sam: Mom, Do you know who invented baseball?

Me: No, I have no idea. Why?

Sam: I just really want to meet that person and say thank you.

a roll of paper, colored pencils and some markers

That's all it takes to keep a few kids thoroughly occupied on a sunny summer afternoon. Well, that and a little imagination too.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

sweet sweet summer

school's out for summer!

rites of passage

preview of what's to come in September. Oh, dear Lord, I don't think I'll be able to stand it. Remember the post of Katie back in September when her little friend A boarded the big yellow bus for kindergarten and Katie was all bereft and left by her lonesome. That will be me in September.

And this...oh my goodness. I don't even have words to encompass all this picture means to me. He's getting all grown up and yet still with one look I see that baby boy who was all enormous brown eyes and black curly hair. Pride and Joy doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about this kid.

Friday, June 17, 2011

spelling sentences

It's the last full week of school. All week long the kids have been bringing home various folders, nametags and odd bits of paper that have resided in the dark recesses of their desks all year long. One item carted home in Teresa's backpack was her spelling journal. Every week she would write sentences in the notebook. One for each of her spelling words that week. Teresa loves to write and as tedious as spelling sentences sounds, it was probably her favorite homework. I started flipping through the notebook, just reading idly and began to chuckle. She is so funny. Whether she means to be or not. Some of the sentences give insight into Teresa's personality. Some are just a little goofy. Some are heartwarming. And a lot are about food...go figure.

Sometimes school annoys and bothers me. (ha!)
A tulip has a good phregress. (fragrance...why use a boring word like scent or smell when you can use a fancy word?)
I love salad so much.
I wish I did not speak English. (huh?)
No one is a know it all in our class. (tee! hee!)
I love popcorn.
My house is not spotless. Is yours? (She got that right!)
Sometimes I wrinkle my nose. (she does! I didn't know she was aware she was even doing it.)
I will never disagree. Only if something is wrong.
I love blueberry pie.
Everyone's throat is in their mouth.
I have a great inspirational thought. (okay, the word "thought" was the spelling word not "inspirational"...seriously, it is typical for this kid to toss around five syllable words when conversing)
I have two feet on my legs.
Don't get on my last nerve!
I want to avoid rice and qubsia.
I am beautiful everyday. ♥
I want a banana split.
Sometimes mice are in my house. My Mom freaks out. (she ain't kidding)
Katie should be herself everyday. (because normally she is......?)
I once on axedent overflowed the sink.
I might have to rewrite this sentences. (you think?)
I will not shrink into my cereal bowl. ( huh???)
everyone should have a doorknob. (yes they are handy devices)
I sometimes gnaw on my food.
You'd smell if you did not take a bath. (she's
I am afraid of a mythical creature. (there she goes with the fancy words...mythical has much more punch than pretend or made up)
I like to open things like drawrs.
I have a nice and loving family. ♥
I have to chew my food before I swallow.
I just adore the soft cushion on the chair. (what eight year old thinks things like this?)
I am still in my childhood.
My Mom is in her parenthood. (bwahahahahah!)
I will take a walk on the bog today.
I will talk on the walk on the bog. (must have been Dr. Suess week.)
I have seen a cartoony trought. (what the??? I can't even begin to figure this out)
I dislike rice and cubasy. (just in case she didn't make it clear the first time she wrote of her distaste for rice and kielbasi)
I am full of kindness in my heart. ♥
I have fairness. I'm not full of it though. (the honesty kills me! ha!)
I'm not full of illness as you can see.
I don't like the song "banjos on my knee."
Sometimes I am a hostess and I don't even know it. (something tells me she wasn't too sure what the word hostess means)
I don't have a daughter yet but I will. ♥

When you do Teresa, I hope she is as beautiful and funny and quirky and sweet as you are

Thursday, June 16, 2011

no joke but I'm laughing anyways

a conversation with Kate while driving past a site that sells landscaping materials

Kate: I can't even believe they are still working on that. They've been working there for like...forever!...longer than I can remember.

Me: (glancing over at the excavators and sifters and mounds of dirt and gravel and rocks on the site) that there? That's not something being built sweetie. That's a landscaping supply site. They dig the dirt and sift it into good dirt and rocks and then they sell it.

Kate: They sell...dirt?

Me: yes, but it's good dirt.

Kate: Are you kidding me with this?

one shining moment

It finally happened. In his third playoff game, the fourteenth game he's played this season, Sam finally hit the damn ball. A short line drive up the first base line pretty much guaranteed he'd be tagged out at first and he was. But that didn't matter. The boys in the dugout practically erupted when Sam's bat made contact and his coach at third base raised both fists in the air in salute. Sam raced to first, was tagged out and was then promptly grabbed in a bear hug by his coach at first. There was cheering and horn honking from all the spectators. Sam's hit enabled a runner to come in and score and you could hear the boys chanting "RBI!RBI!" as Sam trotted into the dugout where he was mobbed by his teammates who all slapped him on the back and high-fived him. The smile on his face was literally from ear to ear. After the game, Sam was given the game ball by his coach. One of his teammates also bestowed his own gameball to Sam. Sam went to sleep with them clutched in his hands and his cap perched on his head. Oh, this team. These coaches. They truly are a dream team.

I had my camera with me. I even had it out and was all prepped to capture photos as Sam stepped up to the plate. I took a couple as he stood ready to hit but lowered my camera and just watched when the fateful hit took place. And then I was frozen with joy, just taking it all in. The scrapbooker in me regrets I didn't take a single photo of the celebrating and the smile on his face. But even without photos, I will never forget. Oh, yes, the images will fade...but my memory of the joy, the pure unbridled happiness and the pride I felt for my son, his team and his coaches... that I will remember forever.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

not quite the season she was hoping for

This girl. This girl is so hard on herself. She's just finishing up her first season in the slightly more competitive older girls softball league. It was not the best year for her. Teresa is a bursting at the seams with enthusiasm kind of home. At home, she concocts plays, shows, games and adventures ad infinitum. Outside of our home she is a much more subdued version of herself. She hesitates to ask for what she wants and is not aggressive in going after things. It takes a special kind of coach to draw her out and push her to take risks.

Unfortunately she did not have that kind of coach this year. Without the right kind of guidance, she was left to her own devices. About half way through the season and being stuck out in the outfield for every game, she told me she was bored and wanted to play in the infield. I told her she needed to tell her coach that. Teresa shook her head and asked me to ask her. I really wanted to but I knew she had to do it so I told her no. Throughout the rest of that game she'd look beseechingly over at me and I kept shaking my head. Finally after one last begging look and one last shake of my head, she got up and stood next to one of the coaches and quietly said something to her. The next inning my girl played second base. I couldn't have been more proud if she had hit a home run. Because in a way, she had. It is hard for her to stand up for herself and put herself at risk of being shot down. But she did it. She worked up the nerve and did it.

I'd love to say the season then took a turn for the best and she started hitting and fielding and her softball skills improved by leaps and bounds but alas...that was not the case. She plugged away game after game and I give her a lot of credit for not asking to give up entirely. She is saying she does not want to play next year. I'm trying to convince her to give it another shot. I'd hate for her to miss out on a sport she can play (with her asthma there aren't many she can play without inducing an asthma attack) just because she had a lackluster coach her first season in.

I tell her I'm so proud and she looks up through her lashes with a woebegone look on her face and asks "why? I'm not good." How do I convince her that the most valuable player isn't always the one with the most hits? How do I make sure I'm not pushing her into something she doesn't enjoy as opposed to encouraging her to give something another shot? Is there a difference?

sigh...once again I am reminded just how difficult parenting is.

nap interrupted

What? What is it you want? Just leave me alone to get my beauty sleep.

She's still there isn't she? The plague of the gorgeous and fluffy...the paparazzi never leave us alone.

lean on me

Sunday, June 5, 2011

play ball!

I was all set to write a post about Sam's baseball experience this year and how wonderful it has been and how he has learned so much but most importantly how his coaches have reinforced the importance of sportsmanship and being a good teammate. And then I caught the tail end of the other night's game. The last one of such an awesome season. Where, at Sam's last up at bat, he struck out (AGAIN! ), and in a very good John McEnroe imitation, he stalked over to the batting cage and threw, heaved!, the bat and it sailed over the cage and into the pitching pen where some boys were playing catch. Thank God none of the kids were hurt.

I was stunned. Not only is this just not like Sam at all, it was not typical of how the kids on this team behave during a game. Sam's coach ran into the dugout and spoke to Sam and I was comfortable knowing he would address the behaviour appropriately. Joe also leaned into the dugout to add a disapproving frown to punctuate the coaches' words. But as I watched the last few minutes of the game I struggled internally with how I should address what just happened. In between the "oh my God!!!"s and the "my poor poor little guy"s, the questions flashed through my mind. "What was he thinking?" "Is he that big of a sore loser?" "Did I somehow forget to teach him that this was not okay?" "Is this my fault?" "What must the other parents be thinking?" I took a couple of deep breathes, told the voices in my head to "shut it up!" and calmed myself down.

Sam has been paralyzed all season with this fear of getting hit by the ball when batting and would rarely swing at the ball because he was busy stepping out of the batters box to avoid getting hit. In practice and at home this was not an issue. He would swing away and hit more often than he missed. But in the games, he was frozen with nerves and indecision. We all kept encouraging him to swing away and in this last game he did start swinging. Unfortunately, no hits resulted from those few swings. He was frustrated with himself, upset they were losing, utterly disappointed the season ended without him contributing much hitting and it all just came to a boil. He knew immediately he had made a very bad choice which compounded his anger and disappointment. I knew he realized his mistake but I could not just let it go at that. I had to speak to him about it and add my disappointment to his own, his coaches', his teammates' and his father's all without harming his precious developing sense of self. Now that isn't a tall order, is it?

To start, I decided I would have him apologize to his coaches. These men give baseball their all and do not deserve to have a player throwing a tantrum, especially one that could have caused injury to an innocent bystander. I headed for the dug out as soon as the game ended and listened to the coaches pep talk to the team. The boys were all very upset they lost so badly. Coach addressed where they let things slide and praised boys individually for plays done well. He also added a reminder that the ultimate aim here is to have fun and exhibiting poor sportsmanship was not acceptable behaviour. He managed to do this without shining a spotlight on Sam's stand out heave ho of the bat and for that I was grateful. The boys trickled out of the dugout but typical Sam, he was still busy packing his bag with his belongings that were strewn all around the dugout. I approached the coaches and apologized for Sam's outburst and both coaches assured me it was understandable, not alright but they understood, and told me Sam had already apologized to them on his own. I was thankful to hear that. Once we were in the van, I gave Sam a talking to. Explaining as gently as I could that I would not tolerate that kind of behaviour and if I saw it again, I would ask to have him sit down on the bench. He sat there, silently, nodding his head and looking at me with big brown eyes shining with tears. It broke my heart to say it, knowing Sam was already punishing himself pretty hard.

These are the hardest of lessons, for him and us. I'm so glad he has the coaches he does. They will not make him feel bad about this as the team moves into the playoffs. They will work with him and continue to let him know he is a valued member of the team.

As this season has played out, I've gotten a chance to see some of the other teams coaches coaching styles and let me tell you, it can be appalling. Coaches berating the boys. Coaches yelling. Coaches commenting disparagingly and loudly on an opposing players abilities. Sam has had none of that this season. His coaches infuse their practices and the games with excitement and fun. They notice every single contribution and effort and make sure to praise the kids. When criticism is due, it is given with a hand on the shoulder and with respect. I think respect and fun are the hallmarks of his coaches approach and it makes such a difference. This team has the best sportsmanship (the other night's incident aside) of all the teams. I witnessed boys on other teams yelling at their own teammates when one flubbed a play or struck out. I was disgusted with the excessive gloating of some of the teams when they won a game. Our boys slap each other on the back after a good play and call out a "good try" when one didn't go as hoped. They high five each other and cheer each other on. I believe our boys exhibit the conduct they do because of the fine example and teaching of their coaches. I can only hope that Sam continues to have such positive role models in subsequent sports seasons.

So you know what, Sam's outburst may have been a huge mistake. But that one mistake doesn't make a season. I'm proud of my boy's hard work this year. I'm proud of him for getting out there and giving it his all every single game and practice. I've watched him learn the finer points of the game and work out where the ball should go in a variety of plays. I see him being a good teammate and having fun. And yes, I share his agony as he learns to deal with frustration, disappointment and an ump who makes bad calls.

Last night his coach held a practice and they happened to have enough Dads there that they held an impromptu game. The men and boys were all laughing and joking and there was plenty of good natured ribbing. Every single one of them left the field smiling. Sam was all enthusiasm when I returned home and he narrated the entire "game" for me, play by play. That is what he'll take away from this season. The memory of the frustration he felt over his lack of big hits will fade. But the memories of fun and camaraderie will stick with him forever.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

someone's gotta bring home the bacon

Teresa came home from school the other day with this very cute rendition of our house. She quite excitedly demonstrated that the windows and door all opened to reveal a member of our family. Herself in the topmost window, doncha ya know, her brother and sister in the other two windows and myself sporting a fashionable dress emblazoned with ♥ cats (while I do indeed ♥ cats, just to set the record straight, I do NOT actually own such a dress).

One member of our family was conspicuously absent, Joe. I asked Teresa where Daddy was. "He's at work." was her matter of fact reply.