How Do You Spell Amazing?

As a mom I wear many hats.  Personally, my favorite is a Cubs baseball cap, but here are a few others that I inhabit:

– Chinese leftover reheater

-Dog walker and trainer (the latter may be easily disproved in a court of law or more likely, upon meeting our wildly energetic adopted dog, let’s just say, girl gets by on her looks…a lot).

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-Extremely empathetic validator of the universe’s feelings

-Housekeeper

-Wife extraordinaire

-Friend, mother, writer, sister ….and the list goes on and on.

Now the hat that many don’t know about and that I keep a closely guarded secret is…

-Spelling bee prep consultant

I have a track record of helping one young man place second in the whole county….

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Cool trophy, right?

Anyway, given my illustrious track record, it only makes sense now that this young man’s  brother is going to compete at his school’s spelling bee, he would reach out to an elite spelling instructor such as myself.  So, that’s where we are at.  I am now helping T.Puzzle prepare for his grade school spelling bee.  Truly, the only special skills I am bringing to the table are the ability to read words from a list (out loud, no less!) and patience.  I don’t mind the sometimes repetitive process as long as my spelling padawan is focused.  So far, T.Puzzle has that in spades.  Here is a recent example of the elite-type of training that I offer.

Me: “Icelandic”

T.Puzzle: “I-C-E-L-A-N-D-I-C”

Me: “Correct” (as in, he is correct, not please spell correct, I think you get the idea, so let’s move on to a word in which more elite spelling instructing is needed for clarification)

Me: “Pesky”

T.Puzzle:  “Use it in a sentence, please.” (he didn’t really say please, I just added it in for my own creative spin as moms-who-love-manners are wont to do)

Me: “Little brothers are pesky to their older brothers.” (see what I did there?  I made it relatable to my subject…genius).

T.Puzzle:  “P-E-S-K-Y”

Me: “Correct”

Me: “Annoying”

T.Puzzle: “F-U-L-L  S-P-E-E-D”

Apparently, I have my work cut out for me.

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Good luck, T.Puzzle!

 

Statistically Speaking

67F4643C-77FD-4BA1-831C-FD5B7BFA9F5E.jpegIf you are ever in need of slowing down time, I have a dandy trick that works like a charm.  Simply watch your youngest child play goalie during a soccer play-off game.  Really, any old soccer game will do, the play-off part only makes it that much more excruciating to witness.  Trust me, you will marvel at the way time nearly halts as the minutes tick away until halftime.

It had been one of those seasons for T.Puzzle.  You know, the character building kind. The kind where losing by a large margin was commonplace and mettle was tested. It was a tough season to watch sometimes, but I loved that T.Puzzle never gave up.  He showed up for every game and practice with a good attitude and shook off the losses with ease.  When it came time for their single-elimination play-off game, he didn’t have a lot of confidence they would win (no one did), but he played his heart out.  They were matched against a team that had handily beat them 7-1 a few days prior.  So, what did coach do to shut them down?  He put my baby in at goalie.  I mean can you imagine?  Unfortunately, I understood.  T.Puzzle isn’t a perfect goalie but he will give it his all for however long you need him.  He goes where the coach tells him without complaint.  I love that about him.  As the first quarter unfolded, we miraculously took the lead.  As spectators we savored those few minutes in which we were actually winning and grateful for such a competitive quarter of play. Eventually, the other team tied us and as the first water-break was called to order, the score remained 1-1.

Full Speed, always on fire with the sideline analysis, broke down the stats. Essentially, our opponents dominated in every possible statistic:  shots on goal, possession, passing completion.  You name it, they owned it.  However, after further scrutiny, there were two critical areas that no matter what the other team did, they could not touch us. First of all, we had the most players wearing headbands.  Ok, so it was only T.Puzzle but it’s a necessity to keep sweat from blurring his rec-specs’ field of vision. Secondly, whenever T.Puzzle was back in goal, we dominated on the goalie with the best dimples.  T.Puzzle’s dimples are extraordinary.  Take that other team!

As you can probably guess, no matter where T.Puzzle played or how hard his team tried, victory remained elusive.

Win, lose or draw I’ll always be there on the sidelines.

That’s a stat you can count on.

The Yin and the Yang

There’s the yin and the yang,

the light and the dark,

and then there’s the homebody and the adventurer.

Guess which one Mad Dog is?

While he certainly has his quiet moments, Mad Dog is a man of action.  He loves to plan sporting event trips that happen to involve huge crowds.  To celebrate my 43rd birthday, we travelled to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg to watch a two game Cubs series against the Tampa Bay Rays.  The first game we took a hotel shuttle, the second game, we did not.  This is where our story turns dark.

We had in mind that we would walk towards the field while taking in the sights of St. Petersburg.  We wanted an authentic experience and hoped to find a restaurant or bar unique to the area.  Instead, it was just HOT.  And, there was no plan and very little direction and no end in sight.  I really needed a plan. We walked farther and farther and my cheery disposition wilted in the Floridian sun. The restaurants we passed did not look inviting and I didn’t feel hopeful we’d find something good.  I was just so HOT.  I was sweating and sweating and sweating.

Mad Dog knew he had pushed his homebody girl too far.  We finally found an air-conditioned art gallery (hallelujah!) and attempted to regroup there.  Mad Dog asked where there might be a good place to dine.  A sales lady gave us a promising sounding option.  Mad Dog made sure that it was a reasonable distance because he knew I was done walking in the heat (understatement!).  As the woman glanced in my direction she stated, “You do look hot.”

As we made our way those final few steamy blocks, I aired my frustration.

“When the lady said I looked hot, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t talking about how tight my butt was!”

“I don’t know, I think she was hitting on you,” said Mad Dog.

And just like that, I cracked a smile.  However, it took me three ice waters and air conditioning for equilibrium to be fully restored.

Thank you for an awesome birthday, Mad Dog!

The Secret Plan

I’m about to share with you a highly effective yet secret way you can stalk look-out for your seventh grader.  It’s so top-secret that if your name is Full Speed, you must immediately stop reading this and step away from this blog post.  I’m totally serious.  You do not have a high enough security level clearance, and more importantly, you would be on to me.  Walk away, Full Speed.  Walk away.

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Full Speed walking one of our highly-trained extremely adorable dogs

Part one of my secret plan is that you have to get a dog well in advance of your middle-schooler having to take the bus to school.  I’m talking maybe a decade or so in advance.  Trust me, this will help you seem credible when the chips are down.  After you have secured your status as a dog owner, you have to start walking them religiously to the point you become well-known in your neighborhood as the ‘dog lady’ which, let’s hope, references your dog ownership and NOT your appearance.  Anyway, you have to walk the same route day after day.  You must casually interact with all the middle schoolers who hang out at the bus stop at the end of your subdivision.  This part is actually pretty awesome because you get to bring some levity to their day and your dog will love the attention.  If you want to be extra sneaky, get TWO dogs.  I’m telling you, middle schoolers will love you for it.  The more fluffy appreciation they receive to start their day, the more you fit in under the radar.

Once you have this routine solidly on lock-down, then it seems completely normal for you to check-in on your own kid when the time arrives for him to join in the morning band of middle-schoolers.  Again, it’s awesome to have your dogs bring so much happiness especially now that your own kid is included in the bunch.  See?  Stealth stalking  supervision complete!

And, I will neither confirm or deny at this point because my plan is working so beautifully, but it’s possible my fluffy companions are robotic stunt dogs.

Whatever it takes.  Do whatever it takes.

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Does Awesome Have a Limit?

It was Father’s Day 2017 and we were seated outside Mad Dog’s favorite neighborhood restaurant.  The discussion turned mildly serious as we contemplated the on-going possibility of adding another dog to our home.  Mad Dog was insisting we had to get a puppy (says the man who doesn’t have to train the puppy!).  I stood my ground and was still pulling for a rescue dog.  However, the rescue option hadn’t been going very well.  The dogs were either too far away or were already adopted before we had a chance to blink.  I was starting to lose hope in fulfilling my dream of rescuing a dog.  I explained to my three guys that whatever dog we may find, this dog had to be something special.  This dog had to live up to the high standards set by our White Fluffy Dog that passed away last summer.  This seemed like a mighty tall order.

The next night as I was laying in bed feeling rather hopeless that a second dog was out there for us, a thought struck me.  Maybe in a lifetime we are only afforded a certain amount of awesome.  I mean I have an incredible husband, two amazing kids and still had the good fortune of having our Little Guy shih tzu around.  And, don’t get me started about our White Fluffy Dog, I could go on about her for days.  She was such a rescuer and always ran towards hurt and sadness, never away.  She was always, always there for me.  Thinking back about all the ways she loved me and my family, I thought maybe I’m being selfish. Who gets to have so much, even if it is just the memory of awesome, and expect more?

In my heart I said a prayer.  I directed it to our White Fluffy Dog but honestly, I don’t know who or what else may have been listening.  I simply said, “If I have reached my limit of awesome, I understand.  I am so grateful for all that I have, all you have given me and if there is that right dog out there for us, please send them our way.  Otherwise, I will make peace with life exactly as it is.  I trust you know what is best for me and our family and I let it go.  I’m letting the whole thing go.”  My heart felt heavy with sadness while I thought these words.  Still, underneath that heaviness, the swirling of gratitude I had accessed was a comfort.  I very much wanted another dog, but knew I would be okay if we didn’t ever find one.

That was Monday night.  Wednesday morning an alert popped up in my email for a dog that matched a description I had set up in an information base.  She was four, she was fluffy(!) and she was potty-trained.  She also happened to be fostered in the town right next door!  She seemed too good to be true.

I immediately set to work filling out an adoption application for her.  I felt hopeful, but I was cautious.  A dog this special was certain to generate a ton of interest and applications.  I hit send on the application and once again, let it go.

The next day I got a call asking if we were available to meet this wonder dog.  By Saturday we arranged a meeting with her and as soon as we met, we knew she was ours.

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This new girl is so much like our White Fluffy Dog in so many ways and she is so different.

All I know is that she is home, life is good and awesome has no limit.

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