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! 🙂

For my Boys: Know Who You Are

formyboys

Strong, Brave, Kind

Silly, Wild, Playful

Inquisitive, Driven, Expanding

Loved, Cherished, Wanted

Growing, Challenging, Seeking

Boys, as you settle into this new school year, that is so full of promise and excitement for you both, I resist the urge to go before you and tell everyone all that they should know about you.  I want to send pages and pages of notes to your teachers, letting them know enough about you that they love you and want to see you grow as much as I do.  I want to let them know of your weaknesses so they can encourage you, let them know of your strengths so they can push you, let them know of the children who are mean so they can protect you, and let them know of the children who lift you so they can place you with them.

I want them to know you.

But what I’ve learned, is that the most important thing is that you know yourself.  Those words above?  Those are the words I think of when I think of you.  You are so very different, but so very much the same.  You are years apart and much different people, so each one is exhibited differently and at different times in different ways.  But know those things.  Know you are each of those.

Know who you are.

And when you forget, I will remind you.

 

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!

 

 

Summer Fun!

Today is the last day of school, and Drew is especially looking forward to summer.  To him that means staying up late, sleeping in, vacation with us (to who knows where as of today), vacation with extended family (to the Bahamas!), riding bikes and surfing.  To me, it means no morning fights to get out the door, less traffic to battle on the way to work, and being jealous of my sleeping family.  But I love the downtime for them, and the freedom that comes with summer.  Mostly, I love their excitement over the possibilities.

Drew finished the year with his year end grades being SUPER! and several awards including a black belt in Recorder Club (oh how I love the sound of the practice.  *sarcasm*), a Citizenship award (apparently he saves it all for school and is plum out of respect by the time he gets home), and a few others.  Next year he’ll be in 5th grade- the last year of elementary school.  How did this happen?  Wasn’t I just writing about his first day of 3rd grade?

Drew at 4th Grade Awards with one of several he earned

Drew at 4th Grade Awards with one of several he earned

 

Ben finished his first year of preschool a few weeks ago.  He loved every minute of the small class that he spent two mornings a week in.  He learned so much, and we were so thankful for his precious teachers.  But he’s moving on!  He was accepted as a ‘model student’ (don’t laugh, I have no idea how this has happened) for the pre-K program at Drew’s school.  We thought they’d never be at the same school at the same time, but now they’ll share one year there together.  We love the school, and are thrilled with the opportunity it’s going to give Ben to grow and learn.  He’ll end up there for 8 years!

 

ben_endyear

We’re ready for Summer fun!

 

p.s.  I’m linking up with a Wordy Wednesday prompt today- lots of people do Wordless Wednesday’s but that’s not quite possible for me!  So check out some of the other great posts here at CarrieElle.com. 

Rewind: The Bad One

About two years ago I wrote a post I thought I’d share again.  Mostly because there were about 2 people a day reading my blog back then!  And because two years later it’s all still true.

Still finding my way, still parenting a good kid and a bad kid.

And still loving it all.

Wasn’t he precious?!

The Bad One

Not in the Happy Ending

I read something somewhere this week about the story of someone’s life not being in the happy ending, and it resonated with me strongly.  I try not to focus on the happy ending.  I really do.  But I always feel the need to have something I’m working towards, something to gauge my progress, or a milestone or event that should bring me ever closer to things being ‘easier’- whatever that means.

I once continued to date a guy way past when it was clear that he was not the one for me, simply because I thought I’d invested way too much into the relationship to not believe there would be a happy ending.  I’ve spent a few years at a job (several times) really enjoying it, but always thinking of how it would help me toward long term goals.  I’ve maintained a positive attitude about the search for Austin, because I knew there will come and end one day.

Newsflash Anita!  There may not be a happy ending for every situation.  Or the happy ending may not be what I hoped for or expected.  And even when there is, that isn’t where the story is.  They story is in the daily details, the ups and down, the good and bad, the joy and the pain.  And when we focus our own lives on the happy ending we expect, we miss out on our real story happening. Or at least I do.

Chill as he waits for surgery

This week, like most, we’re going through the not so fun trials of normal life for us.  Last weekend, Michael was sick and home in bed for much of it.  Tuesday, Drew had minor surgery and spent most of the week recuperating.  Austin’s birthday was Wednesday.  Today, Drew is doing another not so fun medically necessary activity.  I could have so easily been stressed out this week, because between all of that and working and hosting a party this weekend and preparing for travel next week, it’s just a lot.  But I kept taking deep breaths and remembering these things.

Michael was able to enjoy some of the weekend and is doing well now.  Drew’s surgery means that he should have relief from the constant sinus problems, asthma and headaches.  Austin’s birthday is a day we can celebrate his life.  Drew’s day today will go a long way towards solving some other issues he has going on.  A party to plan means we have friends to love.  My busy work schedule means I have a good job to provide for us.  These are good things!  Sometimes it takes looking at the flip side, to see the good through the junk.

There is one thing going on that I just can’t see the good side of this week.  32 years ago Wednesday, God gave me a brother.  28 years ago, God gave me more brothers, though not by blood or marriage.  One of them is in the hospital after a stroke, at just 37 years old.  It’s not his first stroke.  His kidneys are also not doing their job well enough, and different specialists are all involved to help him.  There’s nothing good about this happening.  But I do know there is this to be thankful for in his story:  He has been blessed with a wife that takes care of him with such strength, and is such a good partner.  He has four kids that love him and need him.  He has family who feel the same.  He has good doctors who will figure this out.  He has good therapists helping him work towards recovery.  For all that I am thankful.  For not knowing how to help more, for that I am lost….

I still hope for happy endings for us all.   But they may not come as we want them, or as quickly as we want them.  So for now I’ll keep looking into our stories, seeing all the good there is.  And praying for strength for the times it’s too hard to even see that.

Because our story is not in the happy ending.  It’s in the life in between.

~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.

Missing his Uncle

Drew was just two days past his fourth birthday when we lost Austin. I didn’t know what to say to him, didn’t even know what to say to myself at that point. Drew loved his uncle, and with Austin living with us, he was used to seeing him daily. He was expecting a fishing trip soon and wondered when they could go.

Early on we decided to be honest with him but on a level he could hopefully understand. It all seemed fun to him in some ways, as family was in town much more than normal and we started spending time in new towns looking. But he knew we were looking for Austin, that he was lost and needed to be found. He would ask people he didn’t know to look for “Uncle Austin” and they gladly told him they would.

We tried to keep things somewhat normal. I have a happy memory of the morning we signed Drew up for tball, so looking forward to what was ahead. Drew was so little and so cute and was ready to play. But that same morning we were having a prayer rally across the street from the field at our church for Austin.
So like many days of this journey, we left a sad event for something joyous and back again.

I think through it all, that’s how we’ve helped Drew. We’ve let him know that we’re sad and miss Austin, but also let him know he was safe and loved and had good things ahead. He has asked many times about him, and always said he misses him.

It’s now been four years, and our explanations have changes yet remained truthful. Drew now knows that we truly don’t know where he is and truly don’t know if we’ll ever find him. At 8, Drew has now lived longer without Austin than with him. But he remembers him, even tonight saw something that reminded him of Austin and he said he missed him. What sweet joy to be reminded that Austin was loved and is missed, even by someone that I’m not sure truly remembers him.

I don’t yet know exactly what we’ll tell Ben about the uncle he never knew. But I know we’ll make sure he knows the level of truth he can understand, and that he’s loved and safe too. And we won’t pretend we’re not missing part of our family, won’t pretend there isn’t grief.

And I pray that as they grow, they’ll never pretend things are okay when they aren’t, but will be able to also find the joy in the midst of any circumstance they face. And if they remember Austin, that would make me smile too.

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