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?

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.

 

Well That Was Alarming

We were racing through O’Hare International Airport.  I felt the adrenaline coursing through my veins as we embarked on the first phase of our summer vacation.  No, we weren’t racing to make a flight or anything like that.  Mad Dog, in that way of his, was pushing us to get to…wait for it…baggage claim.  We weren’t even late for anything.  He is a man who can’t stand to be still so what happens when you land at your destination?  You sprint to baggage claim naturally.

Through the bobbing and weaving I managed to shout over to the boys, “You realize this trip would not be possible without me.  I am the whole reason we are here.”

They didn’t break stride as they looked towards me.

“I set the back-up alarm to make sure we made our flight this morning.  This was absolutely crucial to our trip’s success.  So, however amazing this trip is going to be, and it will be, it’s all because of your mom and her super awesome back-up alarm setting abilities.”

You see, the night before, Mad Dog ‘asked’ me what time I planned to set my alarm for.  The truth was, he already had in mind the exact time he wanted.  It was also clear that I was the back-up alarm.

Why he pretended that my back-up alarm mattered when, in fact, it did not, only shows how smart he is.  He knows my sensitive self likes to feel useful in situations like these.  He tried his best to include me.  But really, in the realm of travel logistics, it’s best to step back and let him roll.  (In his defense, he travels a lot for work, so he clearly knows what the heck he is doing.)

Mad Dog takes in what I’ve said and casually states, “Actually, you were the back-up to the back-up alarm.”

What!?!

Full Speeds turns to me and says, “How’s it feel to be demoted to third string, Mom?”

Not great.  Not great at all.

Of course we went to Wrigley Field, goes without saying.

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.🙌🏻

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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