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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That’s Cub

In every woman’s life there are defining moments.  There are milestones such as college graduation, falling in love, having children, etc.  Once children are a part of the picture, suddenly their milestones become our treasured markers of the passage of time.  For instance, the first time Full Speed reached earnestly to play with a toy hung from the arm of his baby carrier, I was overjoyed.  I was convinced by this simple act that I had given birth to a certified genius.  We were at the mall and the air was heavy with the scent of salty pretzels and my overblown perceptions of my ‘super baby’.  Still, it was an awesome moment and to this day whenever something great befalls my kiddos, it’s like it is happening to me as well.

That’s why when my boys lined up against the backstop at Wrigley Field before the start of the game, I was giddy with anticipation.  Mad Dog had arranged for them to be part of the nine lucky kids that got to run on the field and meet a player.  We had no idea which player it would be.  We hoped for the best and made peace with the worst (you know who you are).  I was seated alone and peered anxiously at them to see where they would run.  Once given the signal, they were to sprint to the position that would coincide with the player they would meet.

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Mad Dog stands center watch over the lucky 9.  Full Speed is at the right end, T.Puzzle third from right in red hat.

I almost couldn’t take it.  Who would they get?!?  Who!?!

Finally, they were off and running.  It seemed obvious Full Speed was headed towards the outfield.  But then, oh my god, T.Puzzle ran to FIRST BASE!  He was going to meet ANTHONY RIZZO!  I repeat….ANTHONY RIZZO!

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Is it obvious he’s my favorite player?  Hmmm, what gave it away?

I jumped for joy and screamed so loud the fans in my section thought I had lost my mind.  I was able to compose myself enough to articulate that both my kids were out on the field and one was meeting ANTHONY RIZZO.  This made sense to them, but I could tell they still thought I was mildly insane.

T.Puzzle had a brief exchange with Anthony (yeah, I’m now on a first name basis with him), and got him to autograph a baseball (proudly on display in our front room).  It  took all of two minutes but for me, it is a defining moment that still brings me great joy.

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Harder to see, but Full Speed meeting J-Hey in the lower left hand corner.
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Full Speed jogs off the field after telling J-Hey he’s ‘much bigger in real life’.

Full Speed was sent to right field and had a lengthier exchange with near-giant Jason Heyward (well, giant compared to Full Speed and most of America). J-Hey was so genuine in what he said to Full Speed, he is now Full Speed’s favorite Cubs player. I love that, clearly he is a player that is gracious and I’m so glad he had such a positive impact on Full Speed.

Now, That’s Cub.

 

Hot Stuff

There’s something about a margarita that makes an ordinary weekend feel like a vacation.  As the thick air enveloped the patio of my favorite Mexican restaurant, I savored the tang of salt that lined my delicious cocktail.  I was hanging with my three favorite guys and munching on chips and salsa…life was good.

Mad Dog raised his glass to meet mine.  He looked to our boys and asked, “What should we toast to your Mom?”

T.Puzzle jumped right in, “Make a toast to the greatest human alive….me.”

Mad Dog said, “This is supposed to be about your Mom, not you.”

T.Puzzle replied, “Well, I guess we can pretend you are the greatest human alive if that would make you feel good, Mom.”

More tequila please.

No matter, I laughed out loud.  This was even before the margarita had worked its way into my system.

The meal and conversation progressed beautifully.  I ate all the things I don’t normally allow myself to and it was divine.  I asked Mad Dog his thoughts on his spicy jalapeño drink and he said it was good.  It had been garnished with a pepper that had remained free and clear of the drink itself.  This is when Full Speed boldly declared that he would give eating the garnish a shot.

We warned him but also applauded his bravery.

Things quickly went south.

His face drained of all color.  He was losing control ever so slightly.  It started out slow and then reached max capacity.

I did the only natural thing a mother would do after imbibing on a way-too-strong drink.

I giggled.

I had the worst (best?) giggle fit of my life.  The more Full Speed looked like he might expire lent to another torrent of giggles.

At that moment I knew I really was the greatest human alive, but maybe not the greatest mom alive.

Still, this picture…worth a thousand words!

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Full Speed made a complete recovery.  Thankfully he had the strength to play Xbox later that afternoon.🙌🏻

Flights of Fancy

Recently, an unusual phenomenon occurred in our family.  I had two trips planned essentially back-to-back.  One was a solo trip meeting a friend at a yoga retreat (amazing!), and the other was an awesome work event for Mad Dog (also amazing!).  I was gone for four nights, home for two, then gone again for five nights.  I think the boys actually missed me.  I know I missed them.

That first morning when I was home for good, I was so happy to sit at the breakfast table with my guys.  I got to catch up on all I missed and hear about their time with Grandma and Grandpa (thank you!).  I, in turn, shared some of the cool things I got to see at the Arizona Biltmore and talk about the people I got to meet.  I talked about how fun it was to meet the spouses of Mad Dog’s work team.  I had so many people pull me aside to tell me how awesome Mad Dog is.  They told me how as a leader he requires a lot from them, but he is fair and always has their best interest at heart.  I was blown away by some of the ways he has positively impacted people.  As I shared this with the boys I said that not only were people pulling me aside to tell me how awesome Mad Dog is, they started telling me how awesome I am, too.

This completely perplexed T.Puzzle.

“Why?” he demanded to know.

And, just like that, I crashed back to earth.

It’s good to be home….I think.

Pushback

How is it possible to trash talk during a FAMILY DICE GAME?  As Mad Dog will tell you, he is gifted at a lot of things and trash talking is one of them.  For him, it’s a subtle balance of talking up his legendary gaming status and pushing buttons whenever one of his opponents shows any glimpse of weakness.  Not surprisingly, a recent game of Farkle pushed T.Puzzle to frustrated tears.  He cannot stand to lose, but to lose to Mad Dog is anathema.

Then there’s me.  I actually encourage family games.  I have this deluded notion that I can spark a positive connection between my family members (ha!).  Most of the time it is fun, even the trash talking part.   The crazy things Mad Dog says are classic and lead to laughter.  Laughter is where all the magic happens.  Then, there are the times when the laughter turns sour.  The game goes so far off the rails, you can’t turn back.

I also am not sure why I’m the only one in my family that truly appreciates the outdoors.  To get all three of my guys to do something outside takes monumental persistence and strength.  The pushback is incredible.  If they were left to their own devices, I’m guessing they would just be attached to said devices (i.e.-smartphones, laptops, gaming systems).

Why do I insist on family games and outings?  I like making the three of them step out of their comfort zone.  I like that they are forced to interact with each other.  This is how we learn and grow.  This is how we bond.

I have days where I lose motivation due to the enormous amount of resistance I encounter.  I asked Mad Dog why he always has to drag his feet on my ideas for family time.  His theory is that he is trying to maintain the illusion that he is still the alpha of the house.  Even though part of him knows what I’m suggesting is good for him and ultimately he will comply (mostly), he can only do so in his own complicated way.  I appreciated his honesty.  I didn’t fall in love with him because he always agrees with everything I say as soon as I say it.  I like that he challenges me.

That’s the whole point of loving someone.  You love them for exactly who they are, not who you think they should be.

I knew full well when I walked down the aisle towards Mad Dog on our wedding day, he was a trash talker of epic proportions.  I kept walking anyway because there was so much awesome in him that it made everything ok.  I knew my life would never be boring and it would be full of amazing adventures (see also Wrigley Rising).

I happened to get two bonus awesomes out the deal, too.

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