Baseball, Pumpkins & Not So Perfect Moments

Our weekend was made up of these perfect moments that take your breath away and make you wonder how God could trust you with these precious lives he made. That included Ben sipping on his hot chocolate, and then sweetly smiling and telling me how much he loves everyone around him. It included Michael arriving at dewy baseball fields two hours ahead of most anyone else, to quietly and without thanks, prepare for kids to play. And Ben laughing so loud it makes your heart hurt. That included Drew coming in as the pitcher when there were already bases loaded, and working his team out of that jam, cool as a cucumber. And Drew running while pulling his brother in a wagon that also held their prized pumpkins, both laughing heartily. It included Drew happily making a sandwich for Ben. It included both boys cuddled up with me at the end of a night, eventually drifting off together.

These are the moments we love to remember, to take photos of and store away in our hearts and heads forever.

And I could end the post here, with a few photos of these beautiful moments. But I won’t.

Because our weekend was also made up of these ugly moments. Ben telling me that I’m making him crazy, in a very serious tone, and me not responding in love. Ben swinging on a kitchen drawer, sending silverware crashing as the drawer broke. Drew  procrastinating on homework and ending up much too late finishing it. Michael and I not communicating about something simple that led to ugly words. Me losing my cool way too often.

That’s reality. We have this amazingly beautiful life that is full of the sweetest moments, but is also real and full of ugly. And heck, that’s on the good days.

I’ve been praying for a good friend of a friend and their family, as they are just praying for any moments with their son after a horrific accident this weekend. We shouldn’t need tragedies to remind us to just be grateful for whatever moments we have, but as is so often true, in those moments I just forget. I should have taken photos of some of those moments we’d rather forget, because they’re part of this life and part of who we are.

So, here are a few photos from the weekend, but with some honest captions to go with them.

Ben_cheeringat2nd_10-15-14

Excited to play 2nd! Cries when he has to play somewhere else, and sat down in the grass at one point. (though in reality, one ball hit the grass all game, so I kinda got his point!)

Drew_atbat_10-17-14

so mad about the umps erratic strike zone that he threw his helmet

 

B&D_WagonRunning 2014

me too busy trying to capture the moment to really enjoy the moment

Brothers_wagon 2014

I take back anything bad I said- they’re perfect! 🙂

Car Conversations & 90’s Rap

This past weekend I spent a good deal of time in the car with Drew, on our way to or from baseball fields. (Between our family there were 6 games, 1 photo session and 1 Tryout this weekend!)

I don’t usually have that much time alone with him with little for him to do but talk to me, so I cherish those moments I do have. I remember that when I was growing up, drive time was often when the most important things were discussed. And when there was nothing important to discuss, we talked about all the things that didn’t seem important at the time but were investments in us, that showed they cared. We also listened to a lot of music and sang along loudly.

So today we do the same with our kids. But these days our songs of choice are 90’s rap. {Don’t judge.}

Some of our conversations this weekend were funny. Some were sad. Hopefully all helped build him.

Here’s a recap:

Discussion about hitting. And how you must swing the bat if you’re going to get a hit.

Requests for chicken nuggets, reminding me that he’s no longer filled by the kids meals.

Letting him know that a search team was coming this week to again look for Austin.

Letting him know that this search is focused on remains, because that’s what we can search for. And what’s likely.

Why people commit suicide, and why I don’t like using the word “commit” like it’s a crime.

How his Uncle Austin would he think he’s really cool. Especially with the long hair that Austin often sported too.

Discussion about hitting. And how you must swing the bat if you’re going to get a hit.

Update on what his coach told his team- including “most of you are weird.”

Mistakes are okay. Repeating the same mistakes over and over means you’re not learning.

Singing and dancing in the car. To 90’s rap.

Talking about the play he’s in, and how cool it’s going to be to watch him sing and act on stage.

How proud we are of the big brother he is. But also how he can relax and let us parent.

That baseball isn’t everything. But we love watching him do something he loves.

Discussion about hitting. And how you must swing the bat if you’re going to get a hit. (And how that’s true in life too)

Singing and dancing in the car. To 90’s rap.

 

Those are the moments that hopefully help build him as he faces life. And hopefully even helps prepare him as the searchers roll in tomorrow.

I’d tell you about Ben’s part in them- but that mostly involves jokes about eating your own eyeballs, crushing the ball (hitting), and how Bulldog Frenchie is his best friend. Not sure about that kid.

Pray for us all this week. I’m not sure any of us have enough of those building moments to make weeks like this be easy. Weeks where we don’t know quite what to hope for and quite what to fear, because they’re all one and the same.

 

swing

 

 

 

 

 

Good News for Failures

I have said more that a few times that my son is uncoachable.

He listens intently, tries his best to do what he’s instructed, and picks up on things pretty well. He’s a smart ball player, who can take the things he’s told and translate them to the play.

Until he makes a mistake and a coach corrects him.

Sometimes it’s just correction in the form of what to do next time, and sometimes it’s a good old fashioned ass chewing. When he was a younger player, there wasn’t so much of that. But now that he’s one  of the most experienced players on a travel team, more is expected. And the intensity of the corrections is much greater. But as soon as that happens, he gets very defensive, and stops hearing what the correction was and only hears the tone and emotion. He ends up only focusing on the negative, instead of the opportunity to do better.

And as I stood by the field last week and had that thought again, it dawned on me that it’s a confidence thing- that he truly feels that if someone critiques something he does, they are critiquing him. And he feels that if they are critiquing him, that he’s a failure or they don’t like him, or he isn’t worthy at all. All because of being called out on one thing.

After thinking all that, my next thought was this- CRAP. That’s what I do. That’s me.

It’s all or none. Love me or hate me, accept me or reject me, all is good or none is good. But that’s not life. That’s not real.And that confidence issue, of not being able to see mistakes for what they are, causes me a lot of pain. Because I get defensive, feel attacked before anyone speaks a word, and feel like I’ve failed.

Maybe you have that challenge too. Of feeling like any mistake is a failure. Of feeling like one mistake makes you not worthy. Or one mistake may make someone not love you.

There’s good news.

failures

 

You’re loved. You’re worthy. You’re coachable. It’s okay.

Coaching helps us grow and learn. Coaching helps us be the best us.

It’s so easy to remind my son of that. Not so easy to remember myself. Let’s work on that together.

 

The Baseball Mom Rules

Our baseball season just wrapped up, much differently than we expected or hoped.  Drew watched the last game from the dugout, with an injured knee, but cheering his team on and still a big part of it.  He’s played through illness and injury, with a bruised and taped hand, with a busted lip, a busted nose, a tweaked ankle, with ibuprofen and with many puffs of his inhaler.  The only games he’d ever missed in 6 years of baseball were when his breathing was so bad he was either in the hospital or about to go in.  So it took a lot to hold him back.  Parenting an athlete is much like parenting in general, with a lot of lessons to share.  So as we wrap up the year and look forward to next season, whatever that may bring,

I thought I’d share my observations, on how to be a good baseball mom.  For those of you just entering this fun season of life, or for those who can relate:

1.  Cheer them on.   Seems simple and obvious.  But so many moms, including myself sometimes often, want to correct them and coach them, and point out what they did wrong.  Let the coaches do that.  You only cheer.  (And hey, if you want to cheer so loudly that no one else can hear and it’s positive?  Great!  Just don’t be offended when I sit on the other side!)

greatestplayer

2.  Be prepared.  From the time they’re little, there are seemingly 1,000 things to bring to the park.  Snacks, water bottles, sunscreen, cooling rags, chairs, umbrellas, entertainment for siblings, cameras, and of course the cleats, bats, balls, gloves, batting gloves, helmets, hat, and on and on and on.  A list will make your life easier.  Especially when you’re leaving the house at 5:45am.  Yep, 5:45am.  (And yep, I’ve been that mom who shows up missing things- including his entire bat bag in the days before that was his responsibility)

2010 Season

2010 Season

3.  Leave the game at the field.  Some great advice I’ve heard from one of our favorite coaches, is to leave the game at the field when you get in the car.  When they’re young, they should just be having fun and not rehashing what happened.  As they get older, they already know what they did right and wrong.  Let them move on.  (I may have been known to break this one and threaten my kid because he didn’t swing the bat in a game.)

2011 SandGnats

2011 SandGnats

4.  Surround yourselves with good people.  The most important thing your kid will learn on the field has nothing to do with baseball.  Find coaches who you want them to grow to be like.  Unless your kid is one of the very tiny % of players who will go on to college or the pros, learning baseball skills is less important than life skills.  And even then, they should be hand in hand.  (We have the best around us.  And sometimes the worst!)

2013 Spring Season

2013 Spring Season

5.  Remind yourself that “It’s a Small World After All.”  Be nice.  Unless you’re in the world of travel baseball, it’s hard to imagine how many people become ugly and personal and hurtful.  But it’s a very small world unless you move far away, and you’ll see each other often.  Heck, there’s a good chance your kids will play together again one day.  (Though please God don’t let some of them end up with us again!)

2011 All Stars

2011 All Stars

6.  Toughen’ up.  Mom, I’m talking about you.  We’ve seen a lot of injuries on the field, a lot of blood, and a lot of tears.  Some of it from our son, and some from kids we love.  Let the coaches handle it until they ask you to come help.  This is a tough one.  But your kid will probably bounce back a lot quicker without you running onto the field.  (I’ve never broken this one- mostly because I’m scared of seeing how bad it is, but whatever it takes.)

last game of Spring '13 season

last game of Spring ’13 season

7.  Let them lose.  Some of the best lessons are in a loss.  Even a losing season.  Our kids are going to face tough times in life, they’re not always going to win.  Let them learn to not give up, to trust their teammates, and to give it their all and still come up short.  They’ll grow.  (I HATE losing!  Apparently I haven’t grown enough.)

8.  Push till it’s time.  Drew loves baseball more than just about anything.  He wants to play at as high a level he can.  He can’t imagine life without it.  But sometimes, he’s not giving it his all or wanting the extra workouts, or to miss something because of practice.  If and when he decides he no longer wants to play one day, I’ll support that.  But until that time, I’ll push him to give his all and be his best.  (“That knee doesn’t hurt that bad!  Come on!”  may have been yelled before I realized the current injury was real.)

9.  Enjoy it.  I love our hours at a ball field.  We’re all together, and my kid is doing what he loves best.  Six years ago we started this journey, with a tiny little four year old who couldn’t tell you which base was which.  Watching him grow into the ballplayer his is today has been a great joy.  Not because of baseball, but because of how it’s helped him grow.

Our immediate plans are to rehab Drew’s knee for a few weeks (hopefully that’s all it takes!) and get him back on the field.  We’ll enjoy a bit of summer downtime too.  But before long, we’ll all be ready to get back to what we love.

And guess what’s next?

Ben starts t-ball in the Fall!  More hours at a field, but back to where it’s all fun and cute.  I can’t wait.

Ben_NLA

Play Ball!

 

 

Mother’s Day Wish List

In case you haven’t realized it by the calendar, the sappy commercials or the stores filled with cards, Sunday is Mother’s Day.  Seriously, if this is your first clue, run.  Run now!  Go find something that will make your mom, or the mother of your children, know how special she is.  Need suggestions?

Here is my Mother’s Day wish list:

*  A child who does what I say WHEN I SAY IT.  Yes, my nine year old will eventually, on his own time frame, do what I asked.  But there will likely be a stop at the TV, a drink to get, or some other thing that slows him down.  This child is slow like molasses.  If you can find the magic elixir for that, my husband will need to buy gallons for me for Mother’s Day.

*  An extra day of the week for a regular beach day- sometimes alone.  The thing is, we fill up almost every moment with something.  I refuse to skip baseball games or leave my kids very often when it’s not for work.  But if I had that one extra day….

*  A big fancy vacation.  Yeah, that’s not happening.  Though we are escaping for a one night stay somewhere local for our anniversary Sunday night.  I’ll take it.

*  1000 hugs and kisses from my monsters.  Some of which I don’t even have to hold them down for.

*  A pedicure.  (Hmm, I may be able to make this one happen….)

My Mom and Jester, as seen in the Florida Times-Union

*  Time to say ‘thanks’ to the greatest mom I know, mine.

To all the moms who inspire me.  To all the moms who love on my kids.  To all the moms who’ve raised theirs and give me advice.  To my friends who are moms to be.  Wishing you a day of remembering that you’re amazing.

XOXO  Anita

 

Happy Birthday Week

It’s Birthday Week in our house.  My other half is turning the big 3-4 on Thursday.  And yes, in case you care to point it out, I’m older.  The word Cougar didn’t have quite the same meaning when he was 20 and I was 22 when we met, but it now gets jokingly tossed around.  Thankfully, I have less gray hair than him, but that’s not saying much these days.

I personally believe in birthday week month.  I should get to celebrate all month long, and everyone else should at least celebrate all week long.  It should involve family dinners, fancy dinners, spa days, girlfriend getaways and family football weekends.  It never does, but a gal can dream.  (And it’s September for those of you who believe in making dreams come true!)

Ideal Birthday Meal/Gifts

Michael on the other hand just wants some cake and a gift- and a gift of junk food, kool-aid, and chocolate is acceptable.  He

Goofy and Annoyed- typical!

will certainly not appreciate a blog post!  But since I’m jetting out the morning of his birthday for work, I thought I’d make sure that more people know about his big day and can help me say Happy Birthday.

This guy of mine is pretty cool, and here are some examples of why:

Best Baseball Dad

** He’s funny.  And mean.  But the mean is usually joking, and people know it.  I share the same sense of humor, though I seem nicer at first.  But he makes me laugh.  A lot.

Fun Rollercoaster Dad

** He’s ridiculously smart.  As in, can master anything he puts his mind to.  He can give you detailed stats on a baseball game at the end of it, without ever taking a note.  Drives me nuts.

** He loves our kids as much as any Dad ever could.  And they feel the same.

Ready to Go Home after Hospital Stay #30ish

** He loves God.

** He loves people and will do anything for his friends.

** He has a lot tougher battle than he lets on to most people, battling Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome about as many days as not it seems.  He downplays it and how it impacts him.  But our kids are seeing a good example of how to fight through challenges.

Surf Lovin Guy

** He’s good lookin’.  Just a bonus.

** He loves sports, is competitive and knows a lot about baseball.  For me, those are musts.  Gotta keep it interesting!

I’ll do a future post on all the things he needs to work on.  Kidding.  He knows he’s not perfect, though he’ll tell you otherwise.  He knows there are some areas that he falters, like we all do.  But we’ll keep him

Happy Birthday  <3

Easter 2013

This Week’s Randoms

Random things from around my week:

**My silly child who kept saying he wasn’t sick and was fine as I rushed him to the ER last week, became a hot mess this week over a skinned knee. He limped. He cried. He whined. He seemed to think he was dying.  He can apparently handle not breathing better than a bit of blood. (Oh crud, do I do this? No. Yeah, pretty sure I handle our big crisis’ with grace and then flip over the minor stuff. Should work on that.  Someday.)

**Drew has surgery scheduled in a few weeks for chronic sinus problems, that causes asthma issues and headaches. He had so many days of bad headaches last 9 weeks that he missed a TON of class and had to work hard to catch up. He’s always been a bit of a brainiac and good grades come easily. It was nice to see him take on the challenge and finish with A’s and B’s. (Being my kid, its pretty logical he’ll have a life of challenge more than an easy ride. So seeing him persevere encourages my heart!)

**We were goofing off last night and Ben did something that prompted me to jokingly say, “Ben, you’re my smartest child.” He immediately replied very genuinely, “No, Daddy is your smartest child.” We laughed forever. Many people say I have three children, I just didn’t realize Ben saw him as one of the kids. (Michael actually is wicked smart. Drives me nuts. He is also pretty much a rock star on anything he puts his mind to. Drives me more nuts.)

**A fabulous group of ladies I know only online did short video hello’s this week. It was so great to see them in more than just photos and hear their voices. So I thought I’d bring the same idea here and post a video intro soon. Hoping to connect with more readers and figured a proper introduction would be a great start. Come back soon to check it out!

Tonight we have what’s quickly becoming my favorite night of the week- LifeGroup with three other families we’re growing to love. Then we’re spending the weekend in Daytona Beach for baseball. Can’t wait to hang out with some cool parent friends and watch our kids play ball and bond as a team.

Hope you have a great weekend too!

~Anita

Let’s Go!

We’ve been trying to figure out what Ben has been ‘singing’ for a day or so.  It sounds something like this- “la la rahu, la la” and a tongue clicking sound twice at the end.  My husband the toddler translator finally figured it out.  He’s saying “let’s go Drew, let’s go” which is commonly heard at the ball field, chanted by the team as a kid goes up to bat.

Ben cheering for Drew on the mound

Ben adores his big brother and wants nothing more than to do what he does.  But with a six and a half year age difference, that’s just not possible.  He wants in his room to play with anything of Drew’s.  He wants on the ball field to run the bases with him.  He wants to go anywhere he goes.

Most little brothers are like that, but what may be the coolest thing about their relationship is that Drew is Ben’s biggest fan too.  Yes, he gets annoyed with him at times.  He kicks him out of his room.  But Drew loves him and hugs him and plays with him often.  He shares with him (usually happily) and shows him how to do things.

They are each others biggest fans, and we love to watch it.  And one day they won’t play so nice and will fight and maybe even wish they were an only child, but hopefully for a short time.

We all need people cheering us on.  People who believe in us.  I sometimes believe in people more than they believe in themselves, and I know some days people believe in me more than I do myself.  I’m thankful for people that God puts in my life to say “let’s go!” to me and really believe in me.  I pray that I can be a cheerleader for my boys and my husband every day.  I pray that I can see friends in need of that and cheer them on as well.

I may not have a brother here to cheer me on, but I have great memories of days when he did.  And I pray when my boys grow that they continue to cheer each other on, and have more than just memories.

Hebrews 10:24
Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.