The dog days are over

Sayonara, summer. It’s been real. Continue reading

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Reflections on a sports season gone wrong

The thing with having three boys is that you’re pretty much guaranteed to participate in every type of sport you can think of at some point in their lives. So far we’ve done t-ball, machine pitch baseball, soccer, football, karate, swim team, and hockey. That doesn’t include sports-related summer camps they’ve done, like the time they tried diving and gymnastics. Or what they’ve said they still want to do, which includes wrestling, track, lacrosse, basketball, more hockey, and more baseball. It’s really enough to make even the most enthusiastic and organized sports mom lose her umph, along with her mind, sometimes.

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Although I do love exposing my kids to new things and allowing them the opportunity to be the decision-makers on what activities they’ll take part in each sports season, there were many times during the fall that had me exhausted, stressed, and completely doubting myself.

CCE on Mondays at 5pm  meant that Ryan missed one baseball practice every week. Add to that the fact that it was his first season–no t-ball experience or anything to warm him up–and I was pretty anxious about his performance when game time rolled around each week. Mix in multiple practices for different sports at completely different locations at overlapping times on the same days, with a husband whose job requires periodic travel, and you have the makings for a potential disaster. Or at least great potential for a lot of balls to come crashing to the ground. Frequently.

To get you in the right frame of mind, here’s what the back of my car has looked like for the past 2 months.

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Dropping the ball, like the time we got to baseball practice without Ryan’s batting helmet. Or the other time we forgot his ball cap at home. Or the time I forgot to write his name in his ball cap so he spent all his time in the dugout during a game stressed and looking for it, complaining that the one he was wearing wasn’t his. Or the time we got to his final game and realized his glove was at home.

Nothing gives a kid more confidence than showing up to practice or a game haphazardly prepared without all of his equipment; that’s my motto anyway. Only by the grace of God was I was able to make it home and back to the fields–crossing the same set of railroad tracks 4 times and not getting delayed–with his glove just in time for his last game to start. And I wrote his name in his hat immediately when we got home from that other stressful game.

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R Baseball

Maintaining my frazzled reputation,  I missed recording the first part of his coach’s speech at his end of season party. He started off by saying, “Ryan, you are what I like to call a gamer. You know what that is?”

Well, how about that hockey season? It’s long from over. I think we’re actually only about halfway through it, so there’s still plenty of time for some major hiccups. Hopefully none as bad as the season when he showed up an entire day late for his game. That one still stings when I think about it.

So far this season, Nicholas had to miss a practice because of a conflict with one of Ryan’s baseball games. It was a week when Chris was traveling, and since it’s not too common in Houston to find another 9-year-old hockey player in your neighborhood, carpooling to the rink was not (and is never) an option.

Missing a practice isn’t that big a deal since he’s one who’s always  there, but show up to play without all the required gear and you can’t even step foot on the ice.  Like the time he got to practice without his mouth guard or the other time when he arrived for a game without his gloves. Since the rink is 20 minutes from our house, both instances resulted in making on-the-spot purchases of new, pricey gear.

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A good shot of the $20 replacement mouth guard, hanging halfway out of his mouth.

I guess we could have had him sit out the game or practice because of his carelessness and hope he’d learn his lesson, but we didn’t. He loves the sport and looks forward to any chance he has to play it. He’s an aggressive player who’s fun to watch, and honestly, we wanted him to play. Shame on us, maybe. We did, however, tell him that if it happens again he’ll have to break open his piggy bank to pay for any replacement gear. So far so good, but like I said, the hockey season is still young and filled with lots of opportunities for potential ball dropping.

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Some stick handling with his $50 replacement gloves.

By the way, I didn’t take any of these pictures. I do have one of those fancy cameras. You know, the ones made specifically for capturing fast paced action shots, perfect for a mom who has three boys in sports? It’s been tucked away in my closet all season, but I really did have every intention of using it this fall.

No, these pictures are shots from other moms–moms who have it all together or who are at least really good at faking it. They were nice enough to take pictures of my kids with their fancy cameras and share them with me.

I did get this video from N’s last game, but I missed the one of him where he actually made the goal. He’s the white helmet, blue jersey number 10, jamming to Ice, Ice Baby as the video starts.

Then there was soccer. We (I) almost made it all the way through the season without any fails. We came so very close, even making it all the way to the last game of the season. We somehow managed to make every practice, never forgetting anything, until his last game when he showed up wearing a practice jersey instead of his game jersey.

I felt the guilt immediately when I remembered that I was the one who grabbed the uniform out of his drawer and stuffed it into his soccer bag as he headed out the door to make his First Reconciliation before his game that morning. Somehow he made it to the game on time, and they still let him play even though he wasn’t wearing the required uniform.

I’m not sure if he got credit for the goal he scored though, since his shirt was missing his usual number 20 on the back. I didn’t capture the goal on video, but I did get one of his thoughtful assists. And one very bad picture with my iPhone.

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So what did I learn from this fall sports season? A few things, all pretty important:

  1. I am not as organized as I thought.
  2. My kids are pretty forgiving.
  3. I think I might like baseball after all.
  4. Watching my kids gain confidence through trying new things and practicing old ones may be my greatest source of joy.
  5. I should be more appreciative of my husband and the sacrifices he makes.

Not just for the divide and conquer capability that’s possible when he’s around, but for all of his hard work and dedication to our family that makes all this possible. When he’s home and the kids ask him to go for a bike ride, take them fishing, play catch, kick the soccer ball, or watch them play street hockey, he rarely hesitates. He’s eager to guide them along their boyhood journey. Right now they’re oblivious to how lucky they are, but there will come a time when they’ll look back with admiration and gratitude, remembering the quality time he spent with them rather than the time he was away.

And for all those times he was out-of-town when I know he would’ve rather been sitting in the bleachers, I apologize for my very poor baseball play-by-play via text message. I hope to get better during spring ball, but I probably won’t. My biggest goal for spring is to arrive on time for every practice and game with all the required sports gear, and children, in tow. Anything above that will just be icing.

Dream Building 101

My boys dream big.

It was couple of years ago when Hayden asked very seriously, “When I grow up, do you think I should get a Bugatti or a Corvette? I just can’t decide.”

I thought for a moment before telling him that if he is at a place in his life where he is trying to decide between the two, that I bet he’ll have enough money to have both a Bugatti and a Corvette so he shouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

My kids have dreams of visiting China. They also have dreams of inventing invisible suits and rocket boots.

Ryan dreams of becoming a doctor and working in the emergency room. Hayden dreams of going to a college on the beach, living on a beach, and being a billionaire. And Nicholas may turn out a true renaissance man if his dreams of becoming an inventor/artist/professional hockey player/scientist come to fruition.

It’s all very exciting to hear them talk about their mega-plans for the future. It makes me envision my fantastic future life when they are grown—never again having to schedule a doctor’s appointment when I’m in need of antibiotics and jet-setting between professional hockey games by way of my own personal rocket boots.

Since this life I see for myself looks amazing, I always encourage them to follow their dreams. I reinforce the importance of trying new things, of figuring out what they really enjoy doing and then practicing it, learning more, and continually challenging themselves to improve in all aspects of their lives. So when they mention to me smaller-scale wishes or ideas they have, I try to make them happen.

I’m hoping that if enough of these little, more easily attainable dreams actually do come true throughout their lives that it will help to build the mindset that it’s all possible for them. They really can do anything that they want and be successful at it.

A few dreams that they’ve actually attained so far include: eating blue cheese, having a lemonade stand to raise money for charity, building a garden, trying yoga, going horseback riding, surfing, eating tofu (which no one liked), eating with chopsticks (which everyone loves), having spiky hair, getting a dog, having long hair, flying on an airplane, and playing hockey.

There are still a few more on the list that I consider possible, like composting, having another lemonade stand, getting a guinea pig (lizard and turtle, too), going to cooking school, playing basketball, running track, and go-cart racing (as in actually racing go-carts for sport). But all of this stuff takes time, planning, and money so we’ll concentrate on one thing at a time and gradually check the items off of the ever-growing list. In the meantime, I’ll continue to focus on the small, seemingly unimportant  or silly dreams they have.

The latest to be crossed off was a wish of Hayden’s. He’s talked about it ever since I can remember, since the first time he saw it on a television show. When he first told me about it, I thought of my own dream as a kid to be slimed like on the show You Can’t Do That On Television or to compete on the kids game show Double Dare. I remembered the happy feeling of that dream inside of me which made me excited for him.

Once the other two caught wind of his idea, they quickly agreed it would be a life-altering experience. So I decided we should celebrate the end of a successful first two weeks of school with some after school dream building.

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When I asked H what he thought of finally getting hit in the face with a pie, he  replied, “It was AWESOME! But next time, I’d like to walk out of the door and have you and Dad each hit me with one. On my birthday!”

Duly noted, Hayden.

And with that, we’re one step closer to rocket boots.

You’re welcome.