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!

 

Statistically Speaking

67F4643C-77FD-4BA1-831C-FD5B7BFA9F5E.jpegIf you are ever in need of slowing down time, I have a dandy trick that works like a charm.  Simply watch your youngest child play goalie during a soccer play-off game.  Really, any old soccer game will do, the play-off part only makes it that much more excruciating to witness.  Trust me, you will marvel at the way time nearly halts as the minutes tick away until halftime.

It had been one of those seasons for T.Puzzle.  You know, the character building kind. The kind where losing by a large margin was commonplace and mettle was tested. It was a tough season to watch sometimes, but I loved that T.Puzzle never gave up.  He showed up for every game and practice with a good attitude and shook off the losses with ease.  When it came time for their single-elimination play-off game, he didn’t have a lot of confidence they would win (no one did), but he played his heart out.  They were matched against a team that had handily beat them 7-1 a few days prior.  So, what did coach do to shut them down?  He put my baby in at goalie.  I mean can you imagine?  Unfortunately, I understood.  T.Puzzle isn’t a perfect goalie but he will give it his all for however long you need him.  He goes where the coach tells him without complaint.  I love that about him.  As the first quarter unfolded, we miraculously took the lead.  As spectators we savored those few minutes in which we were actually winning and grateful for such a competitive quarter of play. Eventually, the other team tied us and as the first water-break was called to order, the score remained 1-1.

Full Speed, always on fire with the sideline analysis, broke down the stats. Essentially, our opponents dominated in every possible statistic:  shots on goal, possession, passing completion.  You name it, they owned it.  However, after further scrutiny, there were two critical areas that no matter what the other team did, they could not touch us. First of all, we had the most players wearing headbands.  Ok, so it was only T.Puzzle but it’s a necessity to keep sweat from blurring his rec-specs’ field of vision. Secondly, whenever T.Puzzle was back in goal, we dominated on the goalie with the best dimples.  T.Puzzle’s dimples are extraordinary.  Take that other team!

As you can probably guess, no matter where T.Puzzle played or how hard his team tried, victory remained elusive.

Win, lose or draw I’ll always be there on the sidelines.

That’s a stat you can count on.

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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Does Awesome Have a Limit?

It was Father’s Day 2017 and we were seated outside Mad Dog’s favorite neighborhood restaurant.  The discussion turned mildly serious as we contemplated the on-going possibility of adding another dog to our home.  Mad Dog was insisting we had to get a puppy (says the man who doesn’t have to train the puppy!).  I stood my ground and was still pulling for a rescue dog.  However, the rescue option hadn’t been going very well.  The dogs were either too far away or were already adopted before we had a chance to blink.  I was starting to lose hope in fulfilling my dream of rescuing a dog.  I explained to my three guys that whatever dog we may find, this dog had to be something special.  This dog had to live up to the high standards set by our White Fluffy Dog that passed away last summer.  This seemed like a mighty tall order.

The next night as I was laying in bed feeling rather hopeless that a second dog was out there for us, a thought struck me.  Maybe in a lifetime we are only afforded a certain amount of awesome.  I mean I have an incredible husband, two amazing kids and still had the good fortune of having our Little Guy shih tzu around.  And, don’t get me started about our White Fluffy Dog, I could go on about her for days.  She was such a rescuer and always ran towards hurt and sadness, never away.  She was always, always there for me.  Thinking back about all the ways she loved me and my family, I thought maybe I’m being selfish. Who gets to have so much, even if it is just the memory of awesome, and expect more?

In my heart I said a prayer.  I directed it to our White Fluffy Dog but honestly, I don’t know who or what else may have been listening.  I simply said, “If I have reached my limit of awesome, I understand.  I am so grateful for all that I have, all you have given me and if there is that right dog out there for us, please send them our way.  Otherwise, I will make peace with life exactly as it is.  I trust you know what is best for me and our family and I let it go.  I’m letting the whole thing go.”  My heart felt heavy with sadness while I thought these words.  Still, underneath that heaviness, the swirling of gratitude I had accessed was a comfort.  I very much wanted another dog, but knew I would be okay if we didn’t ever find one.

That was Monday night.  Wednesday morning an alert popped up in my email for a dog that matched a description I had set up in an information base.  She was four, she was fluffy(!) and she was potty-trained.  She also happened to be fostered in the town right next door!  She seemed too good to be true.

I immediately set to work filling out an adoption application for her.  I felt hopeful, but I was cautious.  A dog this special was certain to generate a ton of interest and applications.  I hit send on the application and once again, let it go.

The next day I got a call asking if we were available to meet this wonder dog.  By Saturday we arranged a meeting with her and as soon as we met, we knew she was ours.

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This new girl is so much like our White Fluffy Dog in so many ways and she is so different.

All I know is that she is home, life is good and awesome has no limit.

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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.