family, motherhood, parenting

On Track For Stardom (Part 3)

IMG_1455
Full Speed may get trounced on now and again, but he always gets back up and prevails. Every. Single. Time.

 

I was beyond confused.  While my eyes were seeing Full Speed line up with his teammates near the high jump area, my mind could not comprehend it.  It was like if you were at my house and I walked down my stairs wearing a Cardinals jersey.  It would make absolutely no sense.  If you were a Cubs fan, and odds are if I let you in my home, you were,… well, at the least you would be anything but a Cardinals fan…, first you would feel confusion, then as it sunk in, you would feel angry and upset.

That’s exactly how I felt:  confused, angry, upset

Why?

First of all, Full Speed up to this point in all of his entire life, had never even attempted to execute a high jump.  Secondly, he barely cleared the waist of one of his man-sized teammates.  I wish I was exaggerating for effect, but sadly, I am not.  This kid towered over Full Speed.  He looked like a line-backer while Full Speed looked like a scrawny equipment manager (albeit a highly adorable one).

Thankfully, the high jump took place well off the main area.  Most of the crowd was focused on the excitement of the relays that circled before us.  The bad news is, Full Speed’s high jump attempts played out exactly as you might imagine.

For his ‘warm-up’ jump he actually went under bar.  Yes, you read that right….under.  For his remaining three attempts he managed to at least level himself out with the bar to a degree, mainly shouldering the bar and launching it off the two poles that held it up.  There was no grace to be found in these movements, mostly it looked like he was being electrocuted as his arms flailed around helplessly. I have to give him props for consistency, I mean he demolished that bar every single time.  I also appreciated the polite way he helped replace the bar to its proper positioning for the next kid in line.

This was a parenting moment that I had to go big picture.  This is where what you see before you is so off-kilter, you just shrug your shoulders and say, ‘no big deal’.   This is just a blip on the road of life and let it go.  I secretly held on to hope that he might get a chance to compete in another event.  One hopefully, that required his feet to stay planted on the ground.

Shortly after, the ominous clouds that had been gathering decided they were done with this particular track meet.  Within moments, rain was pummeling its way through the crowd and we all scattered like ants to safety.  I was separated from Full Speed for a bit while the fate of the track meet was determined.  Eventually, as mother nature continued on with her very bad mood, the meet was called and I caught up with him.

Once we were back at the car away from the noisy rain, I asked him point-blank, “Why on earth did they ask you do to the high jump?”

“I volunteered,” he replied.

“Oh.”

Turns out, four members of his team were no-shows and there were lots of gaps needing to be filled.  As his coach had run through the litany of events that needed a fill-in, Full Speed volunteered for every single one.

He was denied on all counts.

That is until the high jump was called out.  No one was willing to step up so what did Full Speed do?

He stepped up.

Can you imagine the amount of courage this must have taken?  Since Full Speed has a pretty good hold on reality, he had to have known it was going to end badly for him.

He did it anyway.

This kid may have lost the high jump that day, but he won my respect.

He has all it takes to be a winner.  The kind that matters.  The kind that isn’t afraid to take risks.

My favorite kind.

Chicago Cubs, humor, motherhood

Best Friends, Baseball and 17 Straight Innings of Awesome

I don’t know about you, but the fact that baseball season has commenced has brought a spring to my step and a joy to my soul.  I can’t explain it, I think it has to do with my genetic code or how I was raised on WGN, but when I’m watching baseball, the world feels right to me.  If I am lucky enough to watch it in person, well then, it’s just next level awesome.  Throw in hanging with my three guys and honestly life could not get any better at Marlins Park in the heart of Miami, but then, it did!  It totally did!

As the first inning of game two of the four game series of Marlins vs. Cubs got under way, Mad Dog exited our row in search of a soft pretzel.  Being opening weekend, there still were some kinks with customer service, so I knew he would be gone for a while.  This didn’t faze me because I was at a baseball game!  Life was good!  Then, out of the corner of my eye, who strolls on in and sits right in front of me?

Theo Epstein!

RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!

I can’t really explain it to a non-baseball fan, but as the President of Cubs Baseball Operations, Theo literally transformed the Cubs into World Series Champions.

Click below to learn more about this legend of baseball statistics and trades:

How Theo
Worked His Magic

Theo Epstein took over the Cubs in 2011 after a 71-win season. This year, they won 103 games — and their first World Series in 108 years. How did it happen? We examine all his moves, big and small.

 

Naturally, I about fell out of my seat.  I was absolutely frantic.  I couldn’t communicate to Full Speed that Theo was sitting in front of us. I didn’t want Theo to hear me talking about him because he WAS RIGHT THERE!  And, then, Mad Dog took FOREVER to get back from the pretzel situation and this whole time I WAS DYING inside from excitement.

Eventually, Mad Dog returned and I had finally communicated to Full Speed who was in front of us.  I had him write a note to Mad Dog on a score card we had so again, I wouldn’t have to say Theo’s name out loud.  From there at about inning 5, Mad Dog politely asked Theo to take a picture with me.  I was so excited that’s why I look like a big cheeseball, and weirdly, Theo looks unaffected.

IMG_5027

Still, the picture is awesome!  It kind of is more awesome because Theo looks so ‘overjoyed’.

It is totally going to be this year’s Christmas card.

And wouldn’t you know, this game ended up going 17 innings!

The boys turned on us at about inning 13.  They were so MAD.

At about inning sixteen, I started to maybe wonder if it was time to call it, but I had to stay.  I mean, I couldn’t leave my new best friend alone to shoulder the fate of our team.

Sadly, we lost.

Theo’s face says it all:

 

It doesn’t matter, once a World Series Champion, always a World Series Champion!

Go Cubs!

 

Chicago Cubs, family, motherhood

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.
Chicago Cubs, children, family, humor, kids, motherhood

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

img_0257

family, humor, motherhood

2016 Year in Review

Mad Dog and I were seated 15 yards back from the end zone.  Our panoramic view of the field added to the excitement.  T.Puzzle was at QB calling the shots and Full Speed was zipping up and down the field at a breakneck pace.

Sounds amazing, right?

It kind of was and it kind of wasn’t.  There are many perks to having the boys on the same flag football team such as shared practices and games.  There are also many pitfalls.  Let’s just say there are days when egos collide and managing the talent is way above my pay grade.

img_0137

Even though their flag season was a mixed bag of victories and defeats, I am grateful that I get to watch these boys from the sidelines.  Besides, I’m feeling generous because I am a World Series Champion!  Yes, it was a long road and a lot of hard work, but I hung in there. Don’t worry, I haven’t let success go to my head.

img_0133
Celebrating the Game 5 victory with the masses.  Still can’t believe we were there.

In the spirit of full disclosure, success actually has gone to my head a little bit.  As it happens Mad Dog and I are predominantly featured in a recent World Series recap. It premiered on FS1 and is available for DVD purchase.  Well, we are flashed on the screen for a millisecond or two, but it still counts.  Here’s proof the Cubs couldn’t have won without me.

img_0143
This is us gearing up for the historic Game 3 showdown.

Now that I’ve sufficiently addressed my newfound celebrity status, here’s a breakdown of the rest of my team:

Let’s start with T.Puzzle.  This is the child that continues to confound me.  He is overly opinionated and strong-willed yet gets glowing reviews from teachers and coaches. Often, after another flip comment has escaped his adorable face I’ll say something like, “wow, raising you is the challenge of a lifetime.”  His instant response is, “because I’m so awesome, right?”  Something like that.  He’s something alright.

T.Puzzle continues to loathe school, adore video games and aggravate his brother.  He’s entering the double digits age-wise.  I have a feeling I may need to start another blog dedicated to coping with T.Puzzle’s impending milestone decade.  The truth is, he is completely true to himself and even though he challenges me a lot, I know he is always going to land on his feet.

img_0138

Full Speed is transforming before our eyes and becoming a kind and thoughtful young man.  Thankfully, he still has a great sense of fun and is loving his Extended Studies this year with its focus on improv.  He loves school, reading, reading and oh, did I mention reading? He is a walking encyclopedia of sports facts and stats.  This was really helpful for me, especially as I got farther into my World Series winning season.  Chicago thanks you, Full Speed!

img_0142

Then, there’s Mad Dog.  He continues to excel at work.  There I reasons I love this and reasons I don’t love this.  I love this because I can tell that he is feeling challenged and inspired by all his new and varied responsibilities.  He’s also an incredible leader.  I am very proud of him and like that he remains humble and grounded.  I don’t love this because he is often working long hours and has to travel.  I’m not a huge fan of sharing Mad Dog with the world, but I get it.  He’s awesome and the world needs him.  So, I let him go with love.

As for me, it really all boils down to this.  I realized that I am my truest, most genuine self when I am in the company of these three incredible men and they all accept me exactly as I am.  My goal for the coming year is to be the self that is loved by them when I am out in the world.  It is easy in concept but hard in execution.  I’m not sure if the world is ready for an empath like me.  All I know is that if I have these guys in my corner, then what the world thinks of me is less important.  In fact, for any of you reading this, I encourage you to be your truest self in all circumstances.  The only approval you actually need is your own.

img_0136

Wishing you a Blesssed Holiday Season, a Bright and Merry New Year and above all else Love.