Sunday, April 27, 2014

For the Love of a Game

Reveille would often sound shortly after six in the morning. The rising sun would already be peeking its way through the closed blinds. If we didn't get up by the time he sounded reveille again, the next thing would be ice cold water poured into our beds. It rarely came to that though. We were usually too pumped up for the day ahead at the ball fields. The ball bags, equipment bags, and cooler were already packed and loaded in the car the night before in preparation for the early morning. We'd leave shortly after sunup and return home around sundown covered in dirt, sweat, and a fresh sunburn. The three of us would fight over who got to shower first, and when we were finally able to get in there, it always felt like the greatest shower ever. Most Saturday nights as our heads hit the pillow we'd be out before the last of the sun completely disappeared, and we'd be back up at it Sunday morning.

"That was our family weekend every single weekend from the end of March until the middle of July for ten years. Then we'd be back at it from mid August until mid October when your aunts and I were older in high school," I told Averi. "The first thing I think I ever loved besides people was this game. There was a point in my life where I truly couldn't imagine my life without it."

My senior year of high school Mrs. Green, one of the hardest and best English teachers I ever had, loved the identity essay I wrote about leaving behind that game as I was getting ready to graduate and move on from one chapter in my life to another. I wish I could find it somewhere in the mass amount of old essays and papers I kept as it'd be a great reference now to how I had hoped to one day connect my past with my love for this game to my future.

Even though I coached three seasons, it just wasn't the same. However, getting Ave interested in the game and going to her first ball game yesterday, brought back the rush of all my great childhood memories on the ball field. Maybe it was family and my teammates just as much as the game itself that made it such a monumental thing in my childhood.

I've always said softball/baseball doesn't have to be their chosen activity. I want them to just find something that teaches and drives them. I want them to have something that will teach them about faith. Faith in the teammates that will have their backs, faith in themselves as they will have moments of triumph and struggle. I want something that will teach them about unity and teamwork. Softball was the first thing to teach me I had to trust my teammates to do their job of fielding the ball behind me and getting the hits to score just as I had to learn to be the person they could count on as well. Then whether it was their mistakes or my own, we all had to learn the idea of we win together, we lose together. As a student I never struggled much in school (except for that one math class!) so  softball was the first thing to teach my how to overcome frustration, how to push forward without quitting, how to push forward over others'  and even my own doubts and criticisms. As much as I loved winning and was and can still be competitive, it's also where I learned sometimes it wasn't about whether we win or lose but more so how we played the game.

Almost every day Ave asks if I'll throw her the ball so she can practice hitting. Unlike her three year old experience as a soccer player, she did really well yesterday for her first game. She hit the ball two out of three times without the tee (they get four live pitches to attempt to hit before they give them the tee), she fielded and threw one ball to first, and she was always moving towards the ball when it was hit. Again today she asked me to go out with her. She hit it a few times but was missing more than hitting it. She started getting frustrated with herself. We agreed she should end on a hit, and she did. As I was picking up she was sitting in the grass with her bat in her loose hands, and she was hanging her little pink helmet head. I sat down beside her and told her even though she was upset that she didn't hit as many balls as she wanted to, she listened to the advice/coaching I gave her and she kept trying and trying. She did improve her swing and she did hit balls. And she's only five. I didn't hit without a tee until I was around seven.

"Play the game because you love it, Ave. Play it because you love sharing the game with people you love, whether its me, Dad, your sister, or your teammates. This game can teach you many things, but don't let the rough moments get you down because sometimes those moments are part of  where you'll learn the greatest things."

And maybe this is the beginning of a another childhood spent on the ball diamond.

My other baseball/softball post near and dear to my heart

You Can't Score if You Never Swing

Hey, Coach, You Missed the Call

Finding That Drive

Thursday, April 24, 2014

10 Annoying Things Post Motherhood

Life is definitely different after we have kids. I've been in this new role called mother for a little over five years now. Here's my list of annoying noticeable life changes after motherhood.

10. Opening the tiolet lid finding abandoned "potty" from hours to the night before still in there

 9.My back and hips will never be the same (as well as those tummy stretch marks) If I lay in bed past eight o clock my lower back and hips will hurt for half the day. I blame this on birthing two children. We know what else they do to our body that is never the same but I wasn't expecting the lifelong backache.

 8. My sex life. I think this is kind of self explanatory. I know we're all getting older and all, but if children are not making doing the deed mission impossible, they're zapping all our energy.

7. Being able to pack for a trip the night before rather than the week before.

 6. My boobs. I know we can workout and eat better to fix those other areas birthing children rearranged but how do you fix what they do to your boobs!?

 5. Being able to eat my dinner without getting up ten times to get something.

4. Being able to go to the bathroom ALONE without a personal attendant.

 3. To be able to move quickly without peeing myself. 

2. To sneeze without peeing myself.

 1. Being able to burst out laughing without peeing myself.

 However, even though I may miss these things, I wouldn't trade these days for those daysbefore I even knew these so called problems existed. What annoying things would you add?

Recent Posts

I'm Going to Hold you Through the Difficult

Little Passports Review with some Averi Humor

Judging a Book by Its Cover

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I'm Gonna Hold you Through the Difficult

I remember that first night all too well. Nate had gone home to stay with Averi so it was just me and the baby. She didn't just cry all night, but it was almost like from the beginning she was born screaming. The first of many nights of me just holding her while tears streamed down both of our cheeks began that night in the dark lonely hospital room.

 My mother in law and mother both visited in the first few weeks and even though both claimed Nate and I were fussy, screaming babies too (though neither had ever mentioned this prior to that moment), both seemed a little horrified for me and the emotional outcry of that red, wrinkly baby. Even though I was not a first time mom I was a little at loss how to handle this new baby.

In those early moments, I worried and questioned everything.I was told to quit nursing her. I was told maybe she was emotionally disturbed. I was told maybe she was colic. Maybe she had acid reflux. My husband was unsure how to handle her and with no family around, figuring out how to handle this crying, screaming baby was left to me.

My first daughter was so easy, and even though I'm sure she probably had her fussy moments, she has always been such a happy kid from birth, that any bad moments were pretty much erased from my mind. But because of that I had all these horrible thoughts going through my head those first few months with my inconsolable baby. I worried that we wouldn't love her as much as her sister. I wonder what I did wrong while I was pregnant that made her so unhappy. Then I worried that all my worries were going to cause more problems for her. I worried so much about this child and then I felt so much guilt for comparing her to her sister, for getting frustrated, for feeling so uncertain about what to do about her. 

Through all the tears and frustrations, I just held on. I was just going to hold her until she knew she was loved.  Whereas Averi always loved to be held and is a cuddlebug to this day, Kenzi didn't even seem to like the comfort of the human touch at first. Slowly, over time she seemed to be okay more and more with being held.

The other night when laying in bed with Averi she told me how I don't give her lovey (that's what she calls cuddling) anymore even though we were cuddling in that very moment; that I always give Kenz lovey now instead. In a way she was right. Now that two and half years have gone by, looking back I do see how much I baby and love on Kenz. I reminded Ave that she doesn't remember but before Kenz she was a mommy's girl the same way Kenz is now, but because Kenz needed Mommy so much when she was born because she was a baby and so fussy, she, Averi, became the big Daddy's girl that she is. I told her Kenz for whatever reason-colic, acid reflux-had a difficult start and she just needed mommy to hold her tight until it passed. But if and whenever she was having a difficult time Mommy would hold her through it too.

A friend of mine just had her second daughter and it was through a conversation with her that my own memories of our start with Kenz came back. I think we like to think it should be easier with the second baby because we've done this before, but I've encountered several moms who find something about the second one more of a struggle. Then whether we're new at this mom gig or not, we're afraid to admit our uncertainty, fears, and even the dark places our mind may wander. I think the first part of that hurdle is getting over our expectations that they're going to be like the first one. Just as accepting that no two mother's journeys will be the same, it's the same with each new journey and relationship we begin with each new child we have. Each is going to present its own challenges and difficulties, but just hold them through it.

My once fussy inconsolable baby is now a happy, giggly two year old. She is a very emotional child. Her feelings are hurt easily; she angers quickly, but she also loves with all that she has now too. She loves to cuddle and give hugs to those she knows and trusts. She is a momma's girl, but I see so much of myself in her now. I still don't really know why she cried so much in the beginning, but whatever it was she moved past it. Now I see those nights of crying together in the rocking chair in the dark was just a part of the journey to our mother/daughter relationship.

Similar Posts about Learning to Raise Two Different Daughters

The Journey to Loving Different Children

My Dearest Daughters: My Sugar and My Spice



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Little Passports Review with some Averi Humor

We opened up our first A & N product for review today. Averi received her package from Little Passports before we left for spring break, but we just now had time to open it up and explore what was inside. She was pretty excited about the suitcase that everything came in. I read her the opening letter from Sam and Sofia; however, after we explored the items in the suitcase more she was disappointed to hear that she wasn't really going on an exploring trip with them. I think she was ready to go pack her suitcase and go off on an exploring adventure.

Nate and I love to travel, and I think she's going to share our love for it so to tell her it was a pretend activity was a bit of a letdown to her five year old self. However, she quickly got over it and took off with her sister on a "exploring the world" excursion. "Let's go, Kenz. Time to go explore the world," she said. She later came up to me and told me, "Now, Mom, when we go to the store and stuff remind me to get my suitcase and map because right now I'm pretending but later I want to really explore the world."

A pretty cool world wide map was also included in this first delivery. I laid the map out on the table for her and showed her where we lived, where Nene and Papa, and Nana and Grandma Lorraine lived. She could then see when compared to the whole world we're really not that far apart. I also pointed out to her all the countries her and dad I would love to visit one day.

From there, I went over some of the questions in the passport that came in this first box. One of the questions was countries she'd like to visit. She must have been overheard me talking to my mom the other day about wanting to go to Hawaii for our tenth anniversary in a couple of years. I had also mentioned that we were torn on whether to make it our first no kid trip. That must have perked her little what I thought was non listening ears because right after I asked her that question, "Hawaii, Mom!. I want to go to Hawaii for real." I'm guessing "for real" means she's stressing that she has no intention of being left behind on any possible future Hawaii trips. She was really into stressing the differences between real and pretend with this. This is obviously a little blurred though because her second place she chose to visit was the North Pole :)

Even though she was disappointed she wasn't going on a real world exploring adventure, she was definitely into the suitcase, stickers, and map that came with this first package. There is also a boarding pass in there with a code to get online and complete activities using the map. The way Little Passports works is each month a delivery comes with activities to complete as they learn about the world on their world map that comes with the first delivery.

This activity would be too small for Kenz, but I think Averi is the right age. Any kindergarten through grade school student could benefit from these monthly learning activities. This would be a great resource for homeschooling, and unfortunately, as our education system has become more and more focused on just reading and math subjects like geography are being left behind so it'd be a great at home learning activity.

A subscription to Little Passports would make a great birthday gift the school age child in your life or order one for your own school ager.

PS. Now I will be listening to Averi talk about Hawaii all night. I hope when she goes there "for real" that I'm going with!

                                                                      Little Passports

**The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Our Disney Vacation

After not arriving home until six o clock this morning we're almost settled in back home. We left Florida at noon Saturday with the plan to get home sometime after midnight, hopefully around two. But when it took us five hours, three hours longer than it should have to get out of the state of Florida itself, I knew we were in for a long night.

The drive to and from part of the trip  kind of sucked due to traffic, a speeding trap that we ended up getting stuck in, and a dead car battery; however, those that know our traveling stories for whatever reason this is rather typical (I'll have to share a recap of all our travel mishaps in another post sometime.) The six days in Florida though were great. Besides the unplanned speeding ticket, a $100 on a credit card, we only went $70 over the budgeted amount we had saved so I was pretty happy with that. Before I share the overload of pictures I took though, here are a couple of my tips and recommendations for those of you that have mentioned going to Disney here in the near future.

Even though it was April, when we went to Magic Kingdom on a Monday, it was still almost 90 degrees so there was a point in the middle of the day, when waiting again for what felt like the umpteenth , I was starting to wonder what was so great about Disney. However, even though my dad says we waited in lines for rides that were close to two hours when we went in August when I was a kid, we never stood in any lines that were longer than 45 minutes. They also have a new thing called the fast pass, in which you can get online and select three rides in which you get assigned a time for that ride so you don't have to wait in line for it. I highly recommend this. The other thing is we stayed after the nine o clock evening firework show, and it cleared out making it so we were able to ride rides and catch princesses with ten minute or less wait times. It was totally worth letting the kids nap in the stroller in the middle of the day and keeping them up way past their bedtime. The 3:00 parade and midnight one too if there that late are great ways to also catch all the Disney characters.

The other thing that we did to see Disney characters that I would recommend is make reservations for a character meal. They are kind of pricey; however, we did a breakfast and to have Pooh, Tigger, Mary Poppins, Alice, and the Madhatter visit us during breakfast we spent $60, which for the nice buffet breakfast we had was probably only about $20 more than we'd pay elsewhere so to me it was  totally worth it, but be sure to make reservations.

The other reservation we made was for Averi to have a princess makeover by a fairy godmother at Bippity Boppity Boutique. She loved it, but without a reservation made sometimes months in advance it again can be difficult to fit in. We were lucky to get in the night before our Magic Kingdom trip to the one in Downtown Disney, and her princess makeover  held up through the night and throughout the whole next day in Magic Kingdom. Then as if Ave knew, on midnight that night mshe decided she was done being a princess, ripped out her updo and ran through the sprinkler nearby, drenching her princess dress and was ready for a change of clothes back to herself.

Magic Kingdom was our longest day from 8 in the morning until 1 the next morning, but the girls were great troopers. We took it easy the next day which I'm glad now because that was the day the whining and meltdowns kicked in from the day before. Naps and pool time though helped get them ready for the shorter day on Wed at Animal Kingdom. For there the ride I would recommend fast passing and not missing is the African Safari. We also watched a 4 D  film in the tree of life. We thought it was cool; Averi on the other sand screamed the whole time, thinking every little animated thing was really coming to get her. Hence why they have the warning it might be terrifying for children. Nate and I kept asking her all day if she wanted to go back. The thing I thought was neat about Animal Kingdom is when you went to the Africa or Asia part of the park it was like visiting an African or Asian village.

We ended our trip over on the Tampa side of the state with about an hour on the beach on a windy, cloudy day and spent our last day, a rainy one, visiting with my mother and grandmother. The girls had a ball and Nate and I enjoyed watching their enjoyment. Here are some pictures  of the girls on their Disney vacation.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Judging a Book By Its Cover

Over my spring break I managed to squeeze in reading a book. I read Afghanistan native Khalid Hosseini s second book, A Thousand Splendid Suns. A few summers ago I read his first book, The Kite Runner, and loved it so figured I would enjoy this one. I wasn't disappointed. I would recommend it to anyone. In fact when I see my social media news feeds fill up with people s uneducated, bigotry post I feel that these people in particular should broaden their reading material.

Everything in this world is not red and blue/democrat and republican. There is a whole different world that exist in between. Too often I see people cast judgment because of one s   religion, their skin color, their income level or poverty vs wealthy status, and even because of the clothes they wear. This book helps you appreciate again what is so great about America. We can all coexist with all our different beliefs and appearances. Not only our freedoms and rights is what makes us a great country though, but also the security we have here. We have our problems, disagreements, and there s always room for improvement, but I can see why so many migrate here. They come for security and hope.

As a middle class tax paying American, this book made me feel ashamed of the times I ve complained about such petty things or thinking I needed "more". There s a lot of political bickering out there about the state of the middle class, but this book made me realize compared to so many other areas of the world middle class America is fairly wealthy. I think we forget that in our pursuit of more.

The other appreciation I was reminded of from reading this is how fortunate as a woman I am to be an American woman. The treatment of women when the Taliban moved into Afghanistan was brutal. Before the Taliban and Al Queada came here with their terrorist acts they were hurting innocent civilians in Afghanistan whose lives, homes, and loved ones had already been destroyed by decades of previous wars.

A few of my Fall college students chose to write their semester research paper over the misconceptions some have towards Muslims because of the bad deeds of a few. Not every Muslim is a terrorist, just as every black man is not a criminal, just as every white man is not a racial supremist, just as every poor person seeking government aid isn't a lazy bum wasting your tax dollars. Yes, unfortunately some fit these stereotypes, but good and bad deeds come from people of all colors and shapes. Just as we re taught not to judge a book from its cover from an early age its a lesson that carries beyond those first years of learning. Every person has a different story noatter what their outside appearance may be. So rather than jumping on some propganda band wagon maybe take the the to read and hear the story. We might be surprised by what we can learn. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Disney Here We Come

Off we go! We are headed to Disney World in Florida. As much as I love to travel, I have never taken a spring break trip. My travel during the school year is always to PA or MO to see family so this is my first spring break trip at 32 years old. It's a little overdue I like to think after all  of those college spring breaks I spent working extra hours to make money to finish getting through college.

This trip was threatened many times. Just like how we had to cancel our Colorado trip last year due to money shortage from buying a new house, at many times I thought this one was going to face the same fate. Myrtle Beach was a nice replacement last year, but I am still holding out hope for that more expensive cross country vacation to Colorado maybe next year???? With a little extra income from my writing (yea!) and Nate's 12 week after school program that he did once a week the last three months, we managed to pinch everything together to make this trip happen.

The girls, especially Averi, is so excited. I was a little reluctant to taking them to Disney World this young. My husband is always the one with the fun ideas while I'm more the downer dash of reality in the relationship. However, at five years old, I think Averi is hopefully at the perfect age. She will be so excited to see the princesses and all the other characters she loves, as well as Cinderella's castle and every other magical thing they will have there. At this age, the part I love is she'll believe they're real. She'll be completely drawn into the magic that is Disney. My worry and hope then is at five she's old enough to remember this trip. Kenz even though she'll be free which is a huge bonus, unfortunately, I know won't remember the trip, which is part of why I was wondering why are we taking this trip now. But in the moment while she's there I know she too will be completely captivated by the magic. Even though I went to Disney World at age 12, I didn't believe in the magic of all that anymore, so for me, I am so excited to experience this through them.

Here's a quick picture of them ready to make the long drive to Florida. See you )with way too many pics to share I'm sure) in a little over a week when we get back!

Be sure while we're gone that you've checked out the latest posts


What Defines the Magic of Childhood

Saturday, April 5, 2014


There's a mile long dirt road that runs behind our house. Along the dirt road are two horse farms and a few corn fields, along with a creek and a few streams that run to that creek. It's country; it's peace; just as I find the ocean good for the soul so is the country. I've always loved nature; I found it to be a refuge from an early age.

From the time I was three until eleven we lived on a deadend street surrounded by hay fields. I don't know what age my parents would send us outside and we were free to disappear into those hay fields, the gravel road that ran perpedicular to the end of our steet, and the small wooded area that was also out in that emptiness behind ours and the neighbor's houses, but how I loved to escape out there. This was also the time my family was going through our most devastational family tradegy with my uncle's battle with cancer. When I wasn't disppaearing back there with the neighbor boy, who also became my first crush (no worries we were young so there was no crazy stuff going on out in those fields), I would go out there alone with my notebooks and it's where I first started to write. He had some weird screwed up childhood life that didn't make a lot of sense to my innocent ten year old self, who up until our current family tradegy thought life was perfect everywhere for everyone. As I explain in Why I Write, my way of processing the difficult parts of life was to write. Out there in those hay fields is where I fell in love for the first time with more than just a neighbor boy. I fell in love with nature and with writing. Those two things I see now stayed with me. Unfortunately the things that brought me to them did not. Monday marks twenty years ago since my uncle lost his battle with cancer and that boy died years later in car accident.

But as I took my girls down that old dirt road today, I couldn't help smile at the childish joy on their faces as they ran free, splashed in the stream, hung on the fences and stared at horses, dreaming of the days we'd let them race across an open field in the open freedom that is nature. They love it and I hope it brings them the peace that I've always found out under the blazing sun and the endless sky with the whisper of the leaves in the wind and the quiet harmony that is nature. I wanted to take my camera along on what ended up being our hour and half long hike down the dirt road today to try to catch the joy I've enjoyed seeing on their faces the last couple of times we've gone.  I'm not the photography guru like Nate but I still couldn't help but to love some of these. Enjoy.

                                                        The freedom of just running

                                                  We'll walk this road together, Mom.

                                                        They love seeing the horses.

                                                                 I love these girls.
                                             The fun of just splashing in the water and mud.

                                              Mom, she might think this is cool but not me.

                                                                 These faces say it all.
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