Pushback

How is it possible to trash talk during a FAMILY DICE GAME?  As Mad Dog will tell you, he is gifted at a lot of things and trash talking is one of them.  For him, it’s a subtle balance of talking up his legendary gaming status and pushing buttons whenever one of his opponents shows any glimpse of weakness.  Not surprisingly, a recent game of Farkle pushed T.Puzzle to frustrated tears.  He cannot stand to lose, but to lose to Mad Dog is anathema.

Then there’s me.  I actually encourage family games.  I have this deluded notion that I can spark a positive connection between my family members (ha!).  Most of the time it is fun, even the trash talking part.   The crazy things Mad Dog says are classic and lead to laughter.  Laughter is where all the magic happens.  Then, there are the times when the laughter turns sour.  The game goes so far off the rails, you can’t turn back.

I also am not sure why I’m the only one in my family that truly appreciates the outdoors.  To get all three of my guys to do something outside takes monumental persistence and strength.  The pushback is incredible.  If they were left to their own devices, I’m guessing they would just be attached to said devices (i.e.-smartphones, laptops, gaming systems).

Why do I insist on family games and outings?  I like making the three of them step out of their comfort zone.  I like that they are forced to interact with each other.  This is how we learn and grow.  This is how we bond.

I have days where I lose motivation due to the enormous amount of resistance I encounter.  I asked Mad Dog why he always has to drag his feet on my ideas for family time.  His theory is that he is trying to maintain the illusion that he is still the alpha of the house.  Even though part of him knows what I’m suggesting is good for him and ultimately he will comply (mostly), he can only do so in his own complicated way.  I appreciated his honesty.  I didn’t fall in love with him because he always agrees with everything I say as soon as I say it.  I like that he challenges me.

That’s the whole point of loving someone.  You love them for exactly who they are, not who you think they should be.

I knew full well when I walked down the aisle towards Mad Dog on our wedding day, he was a trash talker of epic proportions.  I kept walking anyway because there was so much awesome in him that it made everything ok.  I knew my life would never be boring and it would be full of amazing adventures (see also Wrigley Rising).

I happened to get two bonus awesomes out the deal, too.

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The Story of a girl and her White Fluffy Dog

A wise person had once told the girl, “The road to true love is never easy.”  And, they were right.  It hadn’t been easy.  The girl didn’t mind because she was happily in love with her Buckeye.  Their relationship was finally everything she knew it could be and then some.  They had moved in together and lived across from Wrigley Field.  Pure magic.

Sometimes, at night, as the girl waited for her handsome Buckeye to come home after a long day’s work and an even longer commute, she would get a little bit lonely.  She thought about how to remedy this and knowing her Buckeye’s career path was only gearing up, she decided to get a dog.  She had never had a dog in her whole life.  The great thing about being a grown-up is that if you want a dog, you get to have a dog.  The girl was not impulsive in nature so she researched and pondered and then researched and pondered some more.  Eventually she decided she wanted a Bichon Frise because small, white and fluffy seemed like perfection to her.  On the day she drove to a suburb to meet a slew of Bichons, she felt very confident ‘her dog’ would find her.  And, she did.

At first the girl thought she wanted a boy and that’s all she focused on.  She started to get frustrated with how energetic and bitey they all were and wondered if she would leave empty-handed.  Instead, she opened up her expectations and picked up the first female she could find.

It was love at first sight.

The girl couldn’t explain it but this sweet little Bichon-Poodle was meant to be hers.  She was gentle and loving.  She weighed a whopping 3.2 pounds.  She was perfect.

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The girl brought her home and their adventure began.  It wasn’t always easy or smooth, but the girl quickly forgave her White Fluffy Dog because, well, she was white and fluffy.  She was magic.

Five months after the White Fluffy Dog came into her life, the girl had to go out of town.  She left for a few days and put the White Fluffy Dog’s care into the hands of her Buckeye.  She didn’t think twice about it before she left but she should have.  Once she returned she realized something had changed.  Her White Fluffy Dog still loved her, but now, she loved the Buckeye even more.  At times this would frustrate the girl because she wanted to be loved best, but she got over it.  This dramatic shift in loyalty helped a lot when the girl became a mom.  She was so focused on raising her young Buckeyes, she was grateful that the White Fluffy Dog had the Buckeye to look out for her.  It also helped that the White Fluffy Dog adored the little Buckeyes.  She loved babies, pacifiers, bottles and diapers.  She was always gentle with the little Buckeyes and over the years, tolerated a lot of hands-on rough and tumble play with them.  She adjusted to being a big sister with great aplomb.

 

Life changed drastically when the Littlest Buckeye turned 18 months old.  At this time the girl learned he was severely allergic to the White Fluffy Dog.  As much as the girl loved her White Fluffy Dog, she did what she had to.  The White Fluffy Dog went to live with her Buckeye’s parents.  The White Fluffy Dog lived with them for five long years (extremely long if you ask the Buckeye’s father).

As the LB grew and changed so did his immune system.  On a whim when he was seven, the girl decided to have him tested yet again for his dog allergy.  She almost didn’t believe the results.  Her White Fluffy Dog could come home.  It was magic all over again.

Having her White Fluffy Dog again brought wholeness to the girl’s heart.  The girl could handle all of her White Fluffy Dog’s quirks because of this wholeness.  Yes, the White Fluffy Dog had entered her golden years and was certainly set in her ways, but she was still magic.  She still was that same dog that ran towards you when you were hurting, sick or broken.  If the girl was sad, her White Fluffy Dog would lay down next to her.  The White Fluffy Dog never ran when faced with distress, rather this is when she shined.  There are no words to convey what this meant to the girl.  ‘Everything’ is a good one to start with.  It pretty much meant everything to the girl.

The girl had more time for her White Fluffy Dog as her little Buckeyes weren’t so little.  She walked her every day.  The girl loved these walks.  The girl fed her, brushed her and made sure she had her medicine.  While the White Fluffy Dog still loved the Buckeye the best, she appreciated all the love and care the girl showed her.  She followed the girl everywhere.  The magic continued…until it didn’t.

The White Fluffy Dog had lived 13.5 well-loved years when her body finally started to give out.  The girl was heartbroken.  The day came that the girl and her family had to say goodbye to the White Fluffy Dog.  She had cancer and was bleeding internally.  The White Fluffy Dog was ready to go.  When the White Fluffy Dog’s last moments arrived, the girl bravely held her in her arms.  The girl reasoned they had started out together, that it was only fitting that they were together when it ended.

The space the White Fluffy Dog has left in the girl’s home is enormous.  It is quiet in a way that is unsettling.  The girl now walks around with a White Fluffy hole in her heart.  Her only comfort is knowing that love eventually prevails.

After all, she learned this lesson from the best…

 

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Greatest Hits (Happy Holidays 2015)

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I don’t know how you top going to the National Championship to see the Buckeyes win in 2015.  It was a spontaneous January trip to Dallas that fortunately ended in a Buckeye victory.  The whole of it was as special as the individual parts.  For Mom, sharing it as a family was the icing on the cake.  To read more, click here:

 The Story of a girl and her Buckeye

Losing a loved one not only changes who you are, it sometimes changes your ability to enjoy the things you used to love.  After losing my mom in 2009, I lost my passion for watching baseball. She was my partner in crime.  Thankfully after years and years of healing, the time to return to baseball finally felt right.  Thank you to the Cubs’ organization for making this season the best in ages.  Thank you especially for beating the Cardinals in the NLDS.  That pretty much sealed the fate of my boys’ allegiance forever.  Seriously, thank you!   To read more, click here:

The Story of a girl and her Buckeye (The Prequel)

Mad Dog and I recently celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary.  Our relationship has weathered life’s ups and downs and above all else, we have maintained an underlying friendship.  He still makes me laugh more than anyone. He still is, in my opinion, ridiculously handsome which is also a plus.  But, the reason I love him so very much is because he loves the real me.  When I struggle with self-acceptance and doubt, he never judges.  When I say things in frustrated despair like, “Why can’t I just be normal?”  He responds with, “Full Speed isn’t ‘normal’, T.Puzzle isn’t ‘normal’ and I’m not ‘normal’.  Just be you.  Once you learn to be comfortable being you, things will fall into place.”  A better response I could not imagine.  Thank you, Mad Dog.  To read more, click here:

 True Love’s Cup

Parenting is hard.  I’ve seen enough and learned enough that the only surety is your ability to accept whatever is in front of you.  This year my boys finally no longer have to patch their eyes for amblyopia (lesser vision in one eye).  This all started when Full Speed was twenty months old.  He recently turned 11.  That’s a long time in kid years.  Again and again my boys and their vision challenges have taught me to accept what I can’t control.  That is so hard to do, but eventually, it’s all that remains.  To read more, click here:

 Eye Am Thankful

I started this blog when my boys were little.  I wrote it to cope.  If you ever had a chance to be around them when they were small, you would understand that my coping skills were challenged relentlessly.  Through the years we’ve all grown.  They continue to evolve.  I’m most grateful for the evolution of who-they-really-are.  They have this core of intangible awesomeness.  We all have it and sometimes the only person who can see it is your mother.  I see it.  They have it.  And, they are awesome.  Let me clarify, they are awesome but they are not perfect.  They back talk and fight.  They have a really hard time following directions, even super-detailed step-by-step directions.  They took FOREVER to potty-train, ride their bikes and tie their shoes.  Full Speed especially didn’t understand my distress over the shoe-tying.  I mean, he would just pay someone to tie them for him once he made it to the NFL anyway, so what was the big deal?   Life is too complicated to only focus on achievements (or lack thereof).  Achievements are a dime a dozen.  They come, they go and in the end, they aren’t really all that important.  That core of awesomeness, it is there, even if your kid gets an ‘F’ on a test (true story, it happens).  Instead, spend your time being present and consciously try to catch a glimpse of their awesomeness.  When you do, it is the best feeling in the world.  It is better than straight ‘As’, four hundred touchdowns or winning a spelling bee. It is Pure Love.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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Beating the System

Recently, I’ve taken a more laissez-faire approach to parenting.  I’m trying to instill personal responsibility in my boys.  For instance, they need to make their beds each day, and if they don’t, they will get an earlier bedtime.  I don’t fuss about it, it just is.  Either you want the later bedtime or you don’t.  Your bed will show me.

Full Speed decided to bypass this system.  When Mad Dog and I turn in for the night, it is part of Mad Dog’s ritual to check on the boys and make sure they are tucked in and comfortably asleep.  What did he find?  Full Speed lying on top of his perfectly made bed curled in a little ball for warmth.  You technically never have to make your bed if you never use it.  Nice try, but get yourself under those covers.

reenactment of what it looks like to sleep on top of covers
reenactment of what it looks like to sleep on top of covers

Where does this slyness come from you may wonder?  Well, as I walked into my formal living room, what caught my eye but this nifty little piece of decorating…

Buckeye Shoes, REALLY??
Buckeye Shoes, REALLY??

When I agreed to letting more Buckeye memorabilia creep into the corners of our home, I’m pretty sure gym shoes were not anywhere on my radar.  But technically, I never said out loud, “Please, no athletic shoes as part of the decor.”

I.

Can’t.

Win.

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!