Wrigley Rising

Mad Dog and I looked at each other.  The stakes were high.  Do we roll the dice?  Do we go all in?  Do we leave it all on the field?

Yes, yes and yes.

So what if we watched The Professor lose by a painfully tiny margin at game 3?  So what if we might see Cleveland take the Series at Wrigley?  So what if the price tag for tickets made me silently weep?

THE CUBS WERE IN THE WORLD SERIES!

There had already been so many tears.  Tears when we made it to the World Series realizing I couldn’t share that moment with my mom.  Tears when we lost game 3.  Tears, tears and more tears.  You may wonder why I allow myself to be a part of something that makes me cry so much.  It’s in my genes.  I can’t not bleed Cubbie blue any less than I can’t not breathe.  After 42 years of being a Cubs fan, I figured tears were always going to be a part of it.  I knew that ultimately if I was heartbroken again, I would rise up and keep on cheering…and crying for my team.

Mad Dog and I went for it and got the tickets.  We figured we would rather face our fears than live with regret.

Every pitch we watched was like taking a bullet.  I had to keep asking Mad Dog ‘Are you sure about the money?  Will you be able to let it go no matter what?’  He reassured me he was fine but I could see the worry in his eyes.  He was concerned that his extremely sensitive wife would not recover from witnessing a loss of this magnitude at her beloved Wrigley Field.  He was probably right.

Game 5 felt different than game 3.  Maybe it was when Anthony Rizzo changed his walk-up song to the Rocky theme that embers of hope began to ignite.  Maybe it was Kris Bryant’s solo home run that shifted the tides of momentum in our favor.  Maybe it was my lucky socks.  Maybe it was finally damn time that the baseball gods realized the Cubs were due.

By the end of the game I felt faint.  The standing, the cheering, the adrenaline all were taking their toll.  Chapman’s heroic 8 out save to send us back to Cleveland was the most stressful stretch of a baseball game I have ever seen. Game five was epic.  Only to be outdone by game 6 which gave way to the greatest single game 7 in the history of baseball.

When the final out of game seven was called, I think you know where this is going…

Tears, tears and more tears.

Finally tears of joy.

Thanks to the Chicago Cubs, I will now always believe in miracles.

Go Cubs Go!

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My Field of Dreams

We were on our way.  We had travelled many miles and planned months in advance for this day.  This was THE day.

Full Speed and T.Puzzle were going to their first Cubs game.

In the weeks leading up to this momentous event, I tried to convey to them how special this was to me.  So much of my childhood and memories of my mom were wrapped up in Cubs’ fandom.  I had met Mad Dog because of the Cubs.  Our first date was in the left field bleachers.  I fell in love with Mad Dog at Wrigley.

Wrigley Field is my mecca.

Obviously, I was feeling a bit emotional but mostly excited.  We decided to walk part of the way from our rented, summer apartment and grab a cab closer to the field.

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We stayed near the zoo and went nearly every day. That was so much fun!

Then, I felt the first raindrop.  Then, another.  Soon, I wasn’t sure if I was feeling rain wet my face or anxious tears.

How could it threaten to rain on this of all days?  The most holiest day of my young children’s lives?

Inwardly (ok, outwardly, too) I started to freak out.  Full Speed could tell I was losing it and quickly grabbed my hand.

“It’s okay, Mom.  It’s only raining a little. It’s going to be okay.”

And, then, almost instantly it was okay.

Here’s why:  I stopped focusing on all the things that could go wrong (possible rain, thunder, game cancellation) and started to look at all that was wonderful.

First of all, I had this incredibly handsome and caring young man holding my hand.  Wow, Full Speed is going to make one heck of a husband when he grows up.  Which brought me to my own husband.  He worked so hard and planned so carefully for our little family to have this awesome Cubs experience for two reasons.  First, he is a Cubs fan, but secondly, because he does all he can to make me happy.  Seeing him up ahead leading our little family and watching him stay positive that no rain would slow us down, made my heart full.

I decided in that moment that I wasn’t going to let the threat of bad weather ruin this awesome day.  However it unfolded was going to be perfect.  I was with my favorite guys and all I felt was gratitude.

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Sure enough, soon after we arrived in the park it rained and rained and rained.

What did we do?   We got some ponchos and soldiered on.

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With much anticipation and thankfully no thunder, the game started on time.  Within moments, the Diamondbacks had a runner on and their clean-up hitter launched a line drive home run to right-center.  It was the kind of homer you instantly knew it was gone.  The way it cracked off the bat was soul-crushing.

And, it still rained on us.  A lot.

Somehow the Cubs made a comeback, honestly if you’ve been watching their season at all, this is hardly surprising.  Offensively they are a juggernaut.  They managed to get the lead back by the fourth inning and maintain it until the end.  This only got sweeter when my favorite player, Anthony Rizzo, clocked a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning.  I screamed so loud I nearly lost my voice.  You can actually see us on the MLB recap as we were behind home plate as Rizzo completes his trek around the bases.  We are easy to spot because I am jumping for joy.  To this day, Full Speed does a dead-on impersonation of me jumping around like a crazy person for Anthony’s home run.

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Here’s the screen shot, it’s a little blurry but there we are, front row in our ponchos.  T.Puzzle is standing looking up at me, I’m cheering, Full Speed is seated and Mad Dog is snapping a pic.  So AWESOME!

It was a magical, magical day.

Thank you, Wrigley Field.

You did not let me down.

 

 

 

 

Reality Check

photo-17Mad Dog and I have returned from our annual kid-free cruise.  We were blessed with good weather, great company and outstanding service and food.  It felt good to get away, but I missed my boys.  We were away from them for four nights.  When we picked them up from school, it was clear that they were happy to see us.  I even got a genuine hug from Full Speed.  If any of you have a third grader like him that willingly gives you a public hug on school grounds, you know how special it is.

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law had volunteered to watch them for us while we were away.  It worked out well because they live right down the street and my nephew goes to the boys’ school.  When I picked up their bags and asked how it went, I was a little taken aback at what I heard.  Apparently, they didn’t really seem to miss me, they didn’t hardly speak my name and they had a great time while we were gone.  Can you imagine?  How is this possible?  You mean their life doesn’t stop if I’m not in it?

Well, I’m going to do the only rational thing I can do for next year’s cruise.  I’m going to have to take them with me.

A Year in Review (Happy New Year!)

I am typing this with a sports-related pinkie sprain.  While I have learned some great lessons this year, apparently I still am slow on the realization that my husband is a competitive beast.  Even playing an innocent family game of touch football in the backyard brings out his win-at-all-costs attitude.  I blame him entirely for the injury, but I blame myself for even playing in the first place.

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In 2013 I think the biggest change I have noticed, especially with Full Speed, is the strange phenomena of actually being helpful without being asked.  I am rendered speechless when one or both of my boys volunteers to hold a door, carry a bag, let a dog out, etc. and in turn, make my life a little bit easier.  I didn’t think it was possible.  That’s not to say they are perfect or that it happens all the time, it’s just a tiny, little gleaming light at the end of the tunnel for those parents up to their neck in diapers, bottles and constant demands.  May this help us all set the stage for even more positive changes and growth in the coming New Year.

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Another major positive change was being reunited with our dog.  T.Puzzle continues to respond well healthwise to both dogs we have now, and seems to have completely outgrown his allergy to them.  Honestly, we never outgrew our love for her and we never will.

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Supermodel

Mad Dog and I celebrated our ten-year wedding anniversary.  I can say without doubt, these past ten years have been the best of my life.  It’s not that life somehow got magically easier once we got married, in fact, we’ve faced some pretty major life events.  It has more to do with having someone in your corner that appreciates you for all the right reasons and sticks by you even when you are anything but your best.  My goal for my family is to create a home that is filled with love and acceptance.  With Mad Dog by my side, this goal is automatic.

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Familes, people, circumstances and life are never perfect.  The real lesson is to somehow find the love when all else seems dark.  There are always reasons to be thankful.  Sometimes it takes creativity to glean gratitude from your life.  Just make sure you surround yourself with awesome people and then finding the gratitude will be easier than you think.

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I Tink I Love You

When I was young, I always dreamed of having a family of my own. For some reason, for years I was convinced that my firstborn would be a daughter who would look just like me. I imagined she was be shy and quiet. She would read books, chase butterflies and have deep, empathic qualities. As you know, instead I was blessed with quite the exact opposite.

As parents, sometimes it’s easier to believe that if our children were like us, that somehow, they would make more ‘sense’ to us. We spend a lot of time analyzing our kids and how we think they should be. Certainly, we’ve lived enough life to know what has worked for us. Since our children share our genes, it seems reasonable that what worked for us will work for them. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case.

Having just returned from a Disney cruise, which was phenomenal, I have to admit, there were times I longed for that little girl who would happily pose with me for every Disney character under the sun. Instead, I had two extremely reluctant boys that had to be threatened into photo compliance. Stinky attitudes aside, these boys somehow amazingly pulled it together and rocked out each and every photo.

Yes, I made them pose with Tinkerbell
Yes, I made them pose with Tinkerbell
The cutest pirates on the planet
The cutest pirates on the planet
Being forced to pose with Mom again
Being forced to pose with Mom again

I couldn’t imagine two more extraordinary, bright, entertaining and loving kids.

What I have learned is that the children you are given are rarely what you expect them to be, but miraculously, are more amazing than you could ever hope for.