Yikes(!) and Bikes(!)

I totally get that baseball is a game of inches.  A couple of inches left or to the right, and a foul ball potentially becomes a 3-run shot.  This is part of baseball’s charm.  As charming as this is, if you fly across the country and spend money on a hotel and tickets, it’s always helpful to see your team win.  Especially if you go four times you figure the baseball gods have to smile down upon you at least once, right?

It didn’t seem that way.  It seemed the more we sojourned to Wrigley, the more victory eluded us. As we approached game four with no win in sight, I was losing hope.  Of course I loved being at Wrigley, but still…was I asking too much to see one teensy-weensy win?

After watching the third defeat, my normally cheery attitude (that’s right, Mad Dog, I’m all about the cheer) had taken a turn.  Let’s just say this World Series Champion was downright crabby, just ask our cabbie (I keep spontaneously rhyming as of late, should get that checked out, and truthfully, we used an Uber, but what the heck rhymes with that?!).  Once we were back at our hotel, my mood continued its downward spiral.

Mad Dog knew we needed to change course. He insisted we all get dressed up and take advantage of the city. We would try a new restaurant and then go for a carriage ride.  All he had to do was get me out the door and all would be well. He was right.  We ended up having an awesome night.

After a great dinner, I was so looking forward to our carriage ride.  It’s one of my favorite  things to do when we are in Chicago.  The city is gorgeous lit up at night and it’s fun to see it from this vantage point. That’s the whole idea, getting to see things out of the ordinary.  This particular carriage ride did not disappoint to put it mildly.

When we rounded the corner as our ride was winding down, it was apparent something was amiss.  Immediately our guide starts to frantically shout, “Look to the right!  Look to the right! Keep looking that way, don’t look the other way!”

She was clearly panicked for some reason.  Was it an accident?  Was a crime of some sort taking place?  I was starting to get very nervous.

No, it was neither of these.  It was a naked bike ride.  Yes, you read that right,…naked!

There were hundreds and hundreds of naked people riding gleefully down Lake Shore Drive.  Full Speed went white with shock and T.Puzzle couldn’t stop laughing.  I simply marveled at how one actually rides a bike sans underpants. Painfully so I would imagine.  Mad Dog?  Well, he did the only thing he could do, he pulled out his phone and starting snapping pictures.  Sadly or gladly(?), there’s that rhyming thing again(!), I won’t be sharing those pictures here.  In fact, I never want to see those pictures again for the rest of my life.

We hurriedly paid our guide and made our way back to our hotel.  By then, much to our relief, most of the birthday-suit bikers had passed through.

However, the memory will forever linger in a can’t-ever-unsee-that-kind-of-way.

I blame the Cubs. (They did thankfully win the fourth and final game we attended🙌🏻)

The next baseball trip we take they better win every game we attend.

The only shock and awe I expect from this point on is that the Cubs play deep into October and that everyone in the glorious city of Chicago keeps their pants on….

I think that’s reasonable, don’t you?

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.

 

 

 

 

Your People

Family vacations are stressful.  Why is that?  Maybe because you plan weeks or months in advance and there are expectations that everyone will be cheerful and have fun doing extraordinary and often expensive activities.  So, the pressure is ON.  Have fun OR ELSE!  You throw in an aversion for crowds and noise, put me on a cruise ship full of screaming kids and there isn’t anyone or anything that can save me or whoever ends up in my path.

We were standing by the balcony overlooking the main floor of the ship when T.Puzzle accidentally stepped on my foot.

I snapped.

My temper shorted out and I yelled at him to ‘Quit it!’ or ‘Cut it out!’ or ‘For the love of all that is good and decent in the world, STOP STEPPING ON MY FEET!’

To an outside observer it would seem that it was an innocent mistake by a distracted nine year old boy.  They wouldn’t know the back story of how this said boy steps on my feet religiously.  If he could bottle his accuracy of squashing my toes, this kid would give a trained sniper a run for his money.

The squashed toes were the icing.  The pressure of FUN was getting to me.  I looked at Mad Dog in despair.

He said, “I know with our family we are going to have highs and lows.  While the highs are tremendous, there are days when you are so frustrated that you want to give our children up for adoption (I’m politely paraphrasing this last part).  You have to accept the good with the bad.”

This made me pause.  He was right, of course, but why am I always so ready to fly off the handle with the people I love the most in the world?  I wouldn’t snap at a friend if she stepped on my toes.  I would laugh it off and be on my merry way.

The difference is the amount of shared history.  When you live life with people day in and day out, your truth seeps out whether you like it or not.  You let the ugly flow because on some level you know that these are YOUR PEOPLE.  They love you unconditionally.

If you can be your truest self around someone, and that includes all the stuff you hide from 99.9% of the rest of the population, then you know you feel safe with them.

Every one of us is complicated.  Most of us strive to be our best.

If we are really lucky, we can be our worst, too…

3 times over.

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Buckets of Fun

As a wife and mother, I have learned to pick my battles.  Over the years I have honed what is worth fighting for and what is not worth the effort.  I have even gone so far as to fully embrace the Buckeyedom that envelops my family’s life.  Ultimately, I’m more concerned about my family as a unit than what team we cheer for (however, please note, I will be cheering for the Illini in the Big Ten basketball tournament).

Being immersed in the Buckeye culture, I’ve come to look forward to our annual Buckeye Cruise for Cancer (over 2 million raised this cruise for the Urban & Shelley Meyer Fund for Cancer Research).  This was our eighth Buckeye cruise and the first time we decided to take the boys.  It happily coincided with a National Championship win.  We all had a blast.

Our Cruise Day Arrival

Our cruise day arrival

Boys meeting Anthony Schlegel, a Buckeyes’ Strength and Conditioning Coach

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Family pic with the National Trophy

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Full Speed politely dancing with me…I love this kid!

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T.Puzzle’s awesome balloon hat from Cozumel, Mexico…love that smile!

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At the Cozumel dock

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Upon our return, as I’ve already allowed some Buckeye decor into my home, I wasn’t all that excited to add more helmets and footballs signed by who-knows-what.  In my opinion, we have plenty.  Then, it all came down to a bucket.  Why on earth did Mad Dog need to bring home a bucket from the cruise?  Keep in mind, it was used poolside to hold beer.  Yes, that makes it sound more attractive, right?  It’s not.  It’s a bucket.

It’s.

A.

BUCKET.

Mad Dog passionately insisted we HAD to bring the bucket with us.  So what if it advertises a beer we don’t drink?  Who cares that we don’t really need it for really anything at all?  The only thing that matters is that it has a Buckeye logo on it.  That is it.  That is all.

I didn’t fight it.  The bucket is home.

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Now, if it was a Downton Abbey bucket, then, it would be amazing AND completely necessary!

My Dolphin Tale

Our Memorial Day weekend started off innocently enough.  We made good time, the boys were on their best behavior and I was on my way to see Winter the dolphin.

Winter, the Dolphin with no tail in Clearwater...

Winter’s story had deeply inspired me and I was looking forward to seeing her in person.  Well, after over four hours in the car and the last hour stuck in heavy traffic, my dreams of seeing Winter slowly began to splinter.  Mad Dog powered through.  He pushed me through my cranky disappointment and ignored my snarky remarks as we rode the seemingly never-ending trolley to Winter’s aquarium.  We made it with an hour to closing (paying full fare of course!) and raced to find my dolphin.

It was love at first sight.  She is the sweetest, kindest soul and I could have contentedly sat and watched her for hours.  T.Puzzle and Full Speed took one look at her and turned promptly to Mad Dog, “Where are we going next?” they demanded to know.  While I watched Winter swim lazy little loops, Mad Dog ran at warp speed from one corner of the aquarium to the next trying his best to keep the boys entertained in the tiny space.

Overall the boys were champs and I got to spend time doing something that I really wanted on our weekend getaway (a rarity as a mother of super active boys).  All was redeemed when we headed to the beach that night and the boys tried mightily to chase away all the birds.

How does one peacefully coexist in a household where your kids seem to only want to attack the very wildlife you wish to quietly observe?  I’m not exactly sure.  I know I love my boys and I don’t ever want them to change who they are.  Sit quietly, yes.  Change?

Never.