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!

 

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.

 

Left to Go Left

I had the honor of chaperoning Full Speed and some classmates for their sixth grade trip to Sea World.  Thankfully, Mad Dog was able to attend.  Trust me, if he can manage a myriad of employees at work, seven twelve-year-old boys were a piece of cake.  It helped that they were all well-behaved, too.

As the day drew to a close, Mad Dog escorted our gang back to the bus home and Full Speed stayed with me.  We decided to hit one more ride before meeting up with Mad Dog at the exit and driving home separately from the class (all sanctioned by Full Speed’s teacher of course). Of all the things he could pick, Full Speed chose the flamingo-shaped paddle boats.  I wasn’t entirely sure this is what he truly wanted, but he’s a smart kid who takes after his Dad.  Sometimes you pick the stuff that you only kind of like because you know the important lady in your life would LOVE it.  And I did.  I really, really did.

After I had paid the fee for our twenty minutes, we fitted ourselves with life jackets and headed to the dock.  The attendant quickly went over instructions.  He said something to the effect of ‘go left to go left, go right to go right’.  He was referencing the way to manipulate the steering apparatus that was centered between our seats.  I followed his directions and we were off to the races….but, not really.  The harder we pedaled and the more I tried to maneuver us away from the dock, the more we stayed put. Eventually, I was able to get us crookedly angled away as long as we pedaled BACKWARDS.  Let’s just say, I shouldn’t quit my day job.

As we slowly and awkwardly floated out to sea, I casually said, “Full Speed, why don’t you try steering?”

He grabbed the control and in less than 30 seconds had us on a straight path.  He steered the paddle boat as if he had been doing it his whole life.  Turns out, you didn’t ‘go left to go left’.  Instead, you actually had to do the opposite.  Since I wasn’t particularly prideful about my gaping inefficiencies as a paddle boat captain, I sat back and enjoyed the ride.  Apparently, knowing how to actually steer properly makes everything a whole lot more smooth.

As we floated about, I had this out-of-body moment.  It was almost as if I was looking at Full Speed as how he could possibly be as a grown man.  Not surprisingly, he appeared a lot like Mad Dog.

I thought back to when I was twelve.  At that point in my life some fundamental aspects of my personality were formed.  My sensitivity, my empathy, and my creativity are all still a part of the grown-up version of me.  As I looked at Full Speed calmly navigating the waters before us, I thought if he has even half this amount of ease and confidence as a grown-up, he is going to do just fine.

Best paddle boat ride ever.

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Truth!

In addition to cleaning out my closets, I have been cleaning up my blog.  I have a newly updated About page which you can read here:

ABOUT

I went through my first year of posts to edit the boys’ names.  I originally referred to them as Frick and Frack.  These were the nicknames my mom gave them when they were very little.  You could see how this could become confusing to a reader so I went back through and updated their names to Full Speed and T.Puzzle.  There are a lot of posts in that first year that made me laugh out loud and made my heart swell with love.  There are touching posts, posts about the loss of my mother and posts about how Mad Dog is always right (not really!) and as a married couple we never fight (no comment!).  There are some posts I read through where I cringed and broke out in a cold sweat.  It was like I was right back in it.  Reliving those vivid details of some of the epic power struggles I endured with my boys (especially T.Puzzle at the onset of his terrible threes) was not for the faint of heart.  After reading these I fully understand why I never felt compelled to expand my brood.  However, I am deeply grateful for the two that I have.  One of the biggest takeaways in terms of my parenting abilities is NEVER ASK ME HOW TO POTTY TRAIN!  I failed repeatedly and miserably not once but twice.  There was a point in time that I wondered if I should buy stock in Pull-Ups as I was fairly certain my boys would be wearing them FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES!  Again, I could not do that again.  Two is my absolute limit.  I heard the Pull-Ups people were really bummed to hear that.

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T.Puzzle is stunned that he actually learned to use the potty.

There were some stand-out posts and there were some where I was clearly phoning it in.  However, there was one in particular that floored me.  It is the one I wrote on the year anniversary of Writes for All Mommies’ inception date.  Here is my favorite passage from it:

I think the biggest change for me has been coming to terms with motherhood. I think sometimes when we are unhappy with who we are, we blame our choices and our circumstances. I will admit, especially in the newborn years, I struggled with my all-consuming role as a mother. I thought that maybe if I had made some different choices, like continuing to work or if I was somehow parenting better, I would feel happier. Turns out, it wasn’t my boys or motherhood, it was me. It doesn’t matter what I accomplish outside of motherhood that determines my value, it is ultimately up to me to determine that. Whether I become a world-famous author or if all I manage is to raise two, well-adjusted boys, my value remains constant. I get that now.

Truth is timeless.  That is for sure.

You can read the post in its entirety here:

HAPPY BLOG-A-VERSARY TO ME!

From this I would like to take it one step further.  What if I actually don’t have to do a thing to prove my value?  What if our value is actually tied to who we are and not what we do?  Is it possible my value was already locked down before I even decided to have kids or pour my heart out on my laptop keyboard?

I now know this is not only possible, it is absolute truth.

It’s true for all of us.

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Sending love to you all.

So Long, Farewell! Part Two

The Super Bowl is over so football is over. This means baseball is almost here!

Woo-hoo!

I was sharing my baseball glee with the boys over dinner.

“Guess what?  Spring training games begin FEBRUARY 25TH!!!  Aren’t you both excited?”

T.Puzzle looked crestfallen at his impending loss of tv viewing control.  Full Speed was more diplomatic.  He graciously updated me on the recent team acquisitions and trades.  He turns to T.Puzzle, “Are you ready to never watch one of your shows until baseball is over?”

T.Puzzle replied (with shoulders slumped defeatedly no less), “How many games are in a season?”

I don’t know why he was being so dramatic, it’s ONLY 162 (not counting post-season, fingers crossed!).

“Guys, remember I said that I will be open to letting you watch an occasional show if it is really important to you.  If we can’t come to a compromise, you are always welcome to go upstairs and watch your show there (there’s a nifty loft space with a tv where they play video games so trust me, they are not being banished to a dark place of doom).”

T.Puzzle says, “But Full Speed will never want to watch a show, he will always want to watch baseball and I know I can’t watch certain shows without him.”  Again, his tone was absolutely pitiful.

I could almost read verbatim the words in Full Speed’s thought bubble that were forming over his head.  Yes, he loves his mom and enjoys baseball up to a certain point, BUT, some days he’s fine to watch something else.  However, he was very scared to voice this last part so as not to hurt my feelings (very sweet).  As I relayed my theory about what he was thinking, his body relaxed visibly in the knowledge he didn’t have to tell his (famous) World Series Champion mother, that he may not want to watch baseball every single day of his life.

“Seriously, Full Speed.  It’s fine.  I understand there are going to be days you won’t want to watch a game with me.  It doesn’t even matter that whoever does watch the game with me will get a bigger inheritance.  There’s no pressure.”

Full Speed’s face cracks into a giant grin.

#PayForYourOwnCollege

#GoCubs

#WSchampion

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