Turn Around and Swim

Life | Lessons | Laughter | Love


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An Open Letter to the Youth Football Commisioner

  
Dear Mr. Youth Football Commisioner:

As you know my son has been playing tackle football through this organization since 5th grade. Prior to his commitment to this organization he played in various flag football leagues. Yet, although he had fun, he was missing something. We were missing something.

When he left K School and began his journey as a middle school student at SAS, football through this organization was the start of what would be his evolution. It wasn’t walking into a faith based community and sharpening his pencil. It wasn’t saying the morning prayer prior to announcements. It wasn’t tossing the football at recess in a school uniform.

Although all intricate to shaping his character, It was taking a knee the very first practice surrounded by parents, teachers, faculty, coaches and Parish priests in blue and gold with a Lions helmet next to him. It was holding his head up high when he made his first tackle. It was being high fived by a coach. It was sweat, sore muscles and prayer. It was knowing that mediocracy doesn’t make it happen. It was knowing that at the end of practice, that walk up the hill would be greeted by parents, other players, coaches and me, his mom. It was the glow he had when he got into the car.
  

Whatever happens on that practice field and before a game. What ever goes on in those huddles, pep talks and post game gatherings has made my son who he is today and the man I know he’ll become. They say it takes a village to raise a child and you are part of my village.

The game of football has taught both of us alot about life. Sometimes more than any other event or journey we have witnessed. Football to him is everything. Everything that sets the tone for his academic success. The tone that wants him to continue a Catholic education into High School. The tone that makes things possible for us at home.

His younger brother just started playing with the organization and I notice how he watches his big brother so closely. How my youngest who is just 5 cannot wait to put on a helmet and proudly wear his Gold and Blue. How our Lions gear sporting our family name and my son’s number is our first go to piece of clothing on a chilly day or night.
 

Everything happens for a reason and he has always been so self confident about his height and weight. I have always told him God gives us what we need and that small can mean mighty. So we sincerely hope he will still suit up everyday in blue and gold and run down that hill to meet his teammates on the practice field. That every Sunday after Church we will be heading off to play ball.

I know that injuries can happen anywhere to anyone. I have put my faith into God that he will watch over my son, while he is out there on the field. I know he is in good hands with all of you. I know you all have an interest in his safety. With that being said, he is an asset to this organization, not a liability. More importantly, he is part of something grand where small things lead to big moments. It’s in these moments, my little boy transforms into a young adult.

Please accept this letter as my approval to have him be a part of this team despite his weight. We sincerely hope we can continue on this journey that began Aug 1 and hopefully will go into the playoffs and beyond. Thank you for your consideration!

Sincerely,

No Weight Limit Needed  

 


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It’s Gonna Be Alright Because N-Wide is on My Side

Awe F*^k goes the too smart for his bridges first grader. And the teacher giggles. But she can’t let the F-bomb drop and dissipate without consequence.

So she summons my then first grader to the podium where she frantically taught art skills to rambunctious little tikes. Perfectionism can be a curse when the tissue paper flower gets saturated with just a wee bit too much Elmer’s.

For my little Nooch is just that, a class-A perfectionist. Don’t start talking about how apples don’t fall far from trees now either.

It was what it was that Spring Day in May. Imperfect. He tried so hard to apply just the right amount of glue to his perfect tissue paper flower to make the perfect Mother’s Day Card. It was cut perfectly with perfect little bubble letters adorned in every color of the rainbow including the pastel palette, bright palette, spring glitter palate and classic color palette. I mean it’s not Crayola if wide tip washable markers don’t come in 50 shades of the original eight.

But it was all perfect and colorful until the glue runneth over and melted the tissue paper flower and made 50 shades of Crayola bleed all over his perfect Mother’s Day poem. He went from Roses are red, light red, deep red, off red to violets are blue, green and with yellow marble hue to what the f*^k is up with this glue.

So the teacher offers him an option. She could penalize him for dropping the F-bomb or leave it up to mom. Now naturally to some, leaving it up to mom might be the harsher of the sentence, while a 63 year old grandmother of 24 might impose the more lenient of penalties. But instead, as a perfectionist has to make the perfect decision, he tells his teacher he needs to think about it.

She is astounded. My what big bridges you have there little fellow. For you just dropped the F Bomb in class and you are telling me you need a moment to think about who will implement your punishment. Yet, she is laughing hysterically on the inside.

She sends me an email followed by a voice message with a giggle in her tone, about the events of the day. She further proceeds to indicate, that after several minutes, a pro and con list and summoning of a few fist grade colleagues, Noochie has decided to allow his mother to administer the punishment.

So as I learn of the daily news and think long and hard as to what would be the appropriate consequence, I accept and relay I will report back tomorrow with his penance.

Later that evening after I’m sure he squirmed all through after school snack, homework, dinner, and baseball practice, I mention to the little guy we need to have a talk.
Instantaneously, I am sure he had visions of a trip to Bath and Body Works. Perhaps they may have bubble gum flavored soap.

“Well my son, I appreciate you wanting to make the perfect Mother’s Day Card for me. I’m sorry the glue took on a mind if it’s own and wouldn’t stop flowing from its BPA laden bottle, but you have to have a sense of self control with your words. Plus curse words, in English, Italian or any other language for that matter must be refrained from,” I declare!

He is just kinda nodding his head, taking it all in and then says, “It’s gonna be fine.” Little dude. It’s not fine my man, you can’t drop F-Bombs.

I proceed to ask how he can be so nonchalant about using this language and he replies, “It’s gonna be fine. I’ve heard and know so because nationwilder is on my side. And if nationwilder, like the whole wide nation is on my side, then mommy it’s gonna be fine!”

Well, there you have it my friends, you can take the F out of the Bomb but you can’t take the bomb out of the kid. Or something like that. And I guess, when you feel like you are down and out, you’ll always have nationwilder on your side. Unless you are my offspring. We use another four letter word to protect us, it starts in E and ends in e.

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Thankfully He Wasn’t REALLY Drowning

(Image Courtesy of Google)

(Image Courtesy of Google)

So the three little monkeys of mine now have swimming lessons. All in one place and for a half an hour every week. For thirty minutes I sit calmly and safely. I sit there and zone out from time to time while cannon balls shatter in the distance. I nod my head every once in a while to acknowledge a water tread, back float or half attempt at a dive. I nod away, they think I’m watching.

Sometimes if I get really animated I yell out, “Great job boys, keep it up.” I feel so free. I know there will be no Sharpie’s upon my walls or gallons of milk dripping from the counters. I know no child has clogged a toilet with a toy screwdriver which would later lead to its demise and removal. I know nobody is putting special bubbly in mommy’s contact case. I know no child is breaking and entering a neighbor’s home for chips in their pantry. I am at peace.

Why in the world didn’t I come up with this sooner? Why? This is the calmest thirty minutes I get each week. I do not care if the instructors pass them. I will pay anything to keep them learning water survival tactics. You’ll see, by the time they are 20, 15 and 13, we will have Olympic hopefuls in the making. I am a perfectionist and I believe, in order to achieve, we must practice, practice, practice. Ah, Namaste.

So by the time Peeno gets out of the pool and I wipe him dry, Noochie is getting out. Then Nickelbass finishes up his last belly flop from the high dive. Now I have regrouped, recharged and didn’t even need alcohol. But as we all know, all good things must come to an end. Now when your children are escorted out of the pool by their instructor, you dry them off and they put their shoes on, you expect them to make their way towards the exit sign. There should be no need to have your guard up or your mommy defense in overdrive. Nobody is getting back into the pool.

But yesterday when I was gathering my belongings, because somehow we always leave with more articles of clothing than we came in with, little Noochie decides to conduct a test. Yes, quite similar to the Emergency Broadcast System. Where it gets your attention until you hear, “This is only a test”. Well I guess over the thirty minutes while I was meditating, when I thought little Noochie was working hard at his breast stroke, he was eyeing up the Lifeguards.

(Image Courtesy of Google)

(Image Courtesy of Google)

Not in the ‘dude scoping out the chicks’ kind of way, but as in, ‘are they really paying attention kind of way’. Oh yes, you guessed it. He “accidentally” falls in. Of course they do nothing. I hurdle the swim team members, resin chairs and water-logged noodles and practically jump in after him. He says, “Mommy just calm down. I got this.” Then he swims to the ladder and in Baywatch fashion climbs out. I am all like in fight or flight mode and this little $h*t walks up to the Lifeguard and goes,”Hey, I just fell in the pool and you weren’t even paying attention.” I wanted to crack him upside his head. Yet, at the same time, he did have a point. Well at least he proved a point, which is exactly what he set out to do.

The Lifeguards are all apologizing to him, a five-year old, and I was still without words due to a potential drowning shock. But last night as I lay in bed with fury critters (more on that to come) I thought to myself, what a sly little guy. He is five and while he was challenging his instructor to push his limits and watching me to make sure I didn’t miss a stroke, he was also eyeing up the fact that the Lifeguards were not life guarding. The fact that teenagers were shaking in their swimmers for fear of job loss as a result of a five-year old’s test, just awed me.

Last year on vacation, when a stranger said to her sister, “That boy. That boy right there is gonna be somebody. He just has that look about him.” Well, she was talking about Noochie. I guess she was on to something. I hope I survive to see his triumphs.

What recent scare did you almost ___________ your pants from? What about you LifeGuards? Do you pay less attention when parents are around?


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Asphalt Soup and the Math Goes Whoop

I’m pretty confident I am ready for the school year to be complete. I really am over fourth grade. In fact, I was over it back in 1980 something too. Now it’s all coming back to me because I have little children. Little children that still need my help with homework. What they don’t get is I need Google and I need sleep. Oh thank heavens for Google. Education is just different these days. Seriously how in the world did I get a college degree and start and manage a business? I think we were still on cut and pasting in the fourth grade. Oh and fractions and decimals, that $h*t didn’t start until Junior High.

So after an eight-hour day of work, dinner, baths, homework (sort of) and getting three kids to bed, sometimes mommy dearest can make mistakes. Especially when it comes to checking fourth grade Math homework. It happens, people, let it go! A free pass for incorrectness should be an excusable mishap given most nights I wrestle my three-year old to get to sleep. Oh and laying in bed with my five-year old while he reads to me, it is sweet on most odd days but every other day including Holidays, I sometimes want to pull my hair out. Just say the word already. It sounds like shout.

My patience runs low on energy at about 8:00p.m.  Plus fourth grade Math homework is waiting for me after ‘Splat the Cat‘. I am not a bad mom, I’m real. You know it parents, frustration with a capital F. Oh my friends, that is a whole other blog post bubbling in my veins but for now we focus here on Math mistakes.

Because they can and will happen. And when I am exhausted, the last thing I want to do is help my son with his Math homework. So if I incorrectly add and multiple then divide by ten thousandths and make my ten-year old change his answers, I think I get a free pass. If the stupid a$$ decoder using our answers gives us *asphault soup, then so be it. If asphalt is also misspelled, than please excuse that as well.

20130430-215138.jpgSo, please Mrs. Teacher do not reprimand my son for being mischievous. I made him change the answers and the two freaking words with one misspelled fit in the boxes so with much sleep deprivation and mommy exhaustion we decoded *asphault soup instead of getting the said better code of alphabet soup. I mean really, no need to send an email.  No need to hand out the pink detention slips.  Although I wouldn’t mind sitting alone in a Library for an hour with complete silence. 

Because in all reality, why after two hours of working through the problems do we have to then play Pink Panther and decode the secret riddle anyways? Just turn the $h*t in and call it a day. Yep, that’s what happens when you have that attitude. My son is still calling me out for it. He was summoned to the teacher’s desk for being naughty. It was I Mrs. Teacher and I am freaking tired. So if school does not get out for summer soon, this mama will be face planting in *asphault soup.

So, I ask, what BIG mistake have you made when helping little missy or junior with their homework?

*Asphalt purposely misspelled to fit on a line.  Namaste!


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Rock a Bye My Baby

I blinked and then waited two minutes. I blinked again as the two bars appeared in the window. I blinked again and there they were, still looking at me. My gaze was fixated. My limbs were numb. My emotions were high. It was real. You were real. My whole world was changing. You were the blessing that would make it happen.

During the nine months you tossed and cuddled inside me, so much of my young life was evolving. I rarely had time to slow down and embrace what it meant to be “with child.” But we ran, boy, we ran. We hustled and started a business. We worked long hours and would be swollen from exhaustion. We pushed through every tingle and overcame every pain. It was all happening so fast. Nine months go by too quick. But on the day you were born you reminded me to slow down. To appreciate our last day together as mother carrying her unborn child. You planned it this way. I know this now, son.

It was just you and I that day babe. We worked a little, played a little, visited with friends and family. We baked a little and snuggled on the couch to grab one last movie. The last movie that would be watched in its entirety without any interruptions. As I snuggled into the soft silky sheets for bed and the spring breeze blew through the room, you gave me a little tug. Then another and I knew, it was almost time for us to finally meet. You gave me the day, our last moments to prepare for both of our about to change forever lives.

You put me through every test. At times you stole my breath away. At times I thought gravity would pull me under. But then at the magical hour of 10:00 a.m., I heard the most precious three words I would ever hear in my life. Some say there are no more precious of words than “I love you”. I disagree. Even though I was tired, emotional, scared and joyful, when I heard “It’s a Boy”, those my son were the three most precious words that fell upon my ears.

7585_10151333929577031_183119441_n[1]You were beautiful. You grew so fast. From cat naps in my arms, to stroller rides to sliding down the slide all by yourself. Then it seemed like overnight you left my side to go to pre-school. The day you got on the bus to ride off to Kindergarten just melted my heart. Your first crack of the bat was like a melody I hear over and over again. Your first touchdown took my breath away yet another time. But you ran, boy you ran.

Your first ride without training wheels would prepare me to encourage you to go forth independently. Your climbs so high upon the trees allowed me to see how much determination you had. Your jumping in puddles, rolling in the mud and food stained shoulders and sleeves have shown me how not to sweat the small stuff. Your hand print stains upon the walls and trails and trails of parmesan balls taught me that messiness is what makes a house a home.

Now you are growing up. You are leaving behind the single digits. The past ten years have taught me more about life, empathy and love than any other years of my existence. There are days I reflect on my own life the past decade. How I have changed and grown and opportunities I might have missed. But if I had a chance for a do over, a chance to repeat, I would do it exactly the same.

I would still hold you until you stopped crying. I would still let you crawl into my bed. I would still sleep on the floor next to your bed, when you felt ill. I would push you 100 times more on the swings and chase after you when you made off for the street. I would still roll around in the grass with you and push bulldozers in the mud. I would still be your elementary class room mom again and again. I would finger-paint until our hands were stained and count your little piggies. I would still rock you to sleep even when my arms went numb and my eyes grew heavy. I want to ‘Rock a Bye’ my baby again.

But we grow. We move forward. I am not sad that those days are over, I’m glad that they happened. Now as you set forth in the land of double digits, I know the next decade will fly by too. I know I will look back again ten years from now and relish the bittersweet moments again. But today I reflect. I reflect on a decade gone by. I reflect on the fact that when I heard “It’s a Boy” that no matter how Type A or organized you strive to be, every day is a new beginning, its very own unplanned adventure. You gave me that gift, son. For that, I am ever grateful and one lucky girl.

Soon you and I will gather at the starting line. When we hear the whistle sound, we will make off towards our goal. The finish line will be ahead of us and we leave behind the single digits. When we cross the finish line, we won’t stop suddenly and call it an ending. We will cross through and carry on. I look forward to our first 5k together. Rocking it out with you, my baby, and we will run, boy, we will run!

539746_4672238565578_485366123_n[1]“When you put yourself on the line in a race and expose yourself to the unknown, you learn things about yourself that are very exciting.”
– Doris Brown Heritage, pioneer in women’s distance running


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Uh Oh, It’s a No Go on The Spaghetti O’s

Uh oh, no, no on the Spaghetti O's.

Uh oh, no, no on the Spaghetti O’s.

Who gets denied the opportunity to contribute to charity?  Whose donations do not qualify as a viable food source for a hunger center?  Who gets the ixnay on the spaghett-tay?  Well, we do of course. 

Over Spring Break I took the kids to the Library.  Given our Spring Break week looked more like Winter Break, we had to forego a trip to the zoo and spend our time indoors.  I figured a nice quiet place surrounded by books would do the three little guys and myself some good.

It was also that one time of the year where I can drastically reduce my library fines.  You see, I am very good with money.  I pay all my bills on time.  I can set up and hold to a budget.  I even manage my business’ finances.  It’s all good.  Yet, when it comes to returning library books and movies on time, well there is a bit of a problem.th[9]

I now have to lock up the kids library books in my closet.  This way in order to grab the next book they have to return their current book to me.  It is one way I can monitor the books and avoid calls from The Library Association of Unretunred Library Items.  I have bought more books and movies that seriously we could open up our own institution to borrow and lend books, DVD’s and CD’s.  In fact, I just found Thomas’ Snowy Day Surprise hidden in a moving box from 2005.

Do you think they will accept its return this late in the game?

Anyways, when I have a chance to reduce my fines, I’m all for it.  I have picked up trash, donated used books to schools, volunteered my time during children’s story hour and most recently had an opportunity to donate canned goods.  So on our latest trip over break, while the little monkeys were climbing the book shelves, I was negotiating a fine reduction.  $1.00 off fines for every canned good item.  I was so happy to donate to the hunger center that I was willing to empty out my whole pantry.  I even told the Librarian to keep the extras. 

I wanted to show the kids it is not just about doing something to get something in return.  That giving more is always the better option.  Until the Librarian started to indicate to her assistant that the many items I turned in need to go into the unacceptable bin.  I’m sorry, come again?  Black beans do not qualify.  What could the volunteers possibly do with black beans?  Garbanzo beans do not qualify.  Artichokes are not a real vegetable item.  Low sodium soup is not acceptable.  I guess there is a need for iodine.  Probably for an electrolyte boost or something.  Oh and Spaghetti O’s, what was I thinking?  No really, she said, “You really shouldn’t feed your children this as nothing in this can is real.”

thCAR9DJUZNow if any of you know me personally or have been following my blog, I do not feed my children Spaghetti O’s or their equivalents.  Not that I am knocking on Chef Boyardee or Campbell’s, but I believe in raw, whole foods without added dyes, processed ingredients or genetically modified substances.  I know it is not everybody’s thing but it’s how I choose to raise my little guys.  It is how I choose to nourish them and my own body. 

So naturally I explained to the Librarian and her assistant, that someone brought these over to my house and I agree I would never give the kids such a delicacy as Spaghetti’s O’s.  They just peered at me through their Librarian lenses and in disbelief, said “Mmm hmm.”  So along with a lecture on healthy and nutritious foods I should feed my children, my Spaghetti O’s were denied as well as the beans o’ plentiful and my library fines remained the same.

So, finding Thomas’ Snowy Day Surprise just tickled my fancy.  I cannot wait to return this item.  Yet, I will probably receive another fine as it is now probably a discontinued item on the Librarian’s List. 

Who else owes their retirement in library fines?  Have you ever been denied an item for donation?  Since when did hunger centers get so picky? 

I mean hunger is hunger.  Legumes are high in protein and filling via their carbohydrate content.  Now Spaghetti O’s on the other hand, well shame on me for trying to donate those, but I figured it was better than putting them in the trash.  Well, my good lesson to the children on giving more than necessary all sort of backfired.  They were ashamed of me for trying to give away “bad food” to the homeless.  The Librarian was able to pull off her signature move by lowering her glasses and gazing at me with sternness as if  I just shouted in her institution.  It was a total belly flop and complete waste of a Spring Break morning.

So, where are you at in library fines?


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You Wiped My Son’s Eyes

20130402-141335.jpgYesterday morning was off to a rough start. I woke up late. It was cold and the thought of bouncing from bed to shower just made me want to pull the covers over my head. I needed a gradual good morning. One that allowed sipping some hot coffee, curled up under the blanket by the fire.

I had the choice to act now and get a head start before the kids woke up. This would lead to my being present at the breakfast table with them. This would allow me to control the “I wants”, sibling bickering and a nicely prepared breakfast ending up in the trash. The nutritious breakfast taking second place to M&M yogurt and Easter candy. I had a choice.

The other option would be the gradual good morning. I chose this option. Despite past experiences, I decided to roll with it but was convinced I could stay mindful. I could start the turkey bacon and sip the coffee. I could wake the kids up, have breakfast on their plates and then jump into the shower. I could let them carry on with their bickering with an occassional diversion from getting ready to mediate. I could do this. I did.

It was frustrating. There were many interruptions. I forget my eyeliner on one eye. I forget to plug in the curling iron. The nutritious breakfast took a hike for sugar laden yogurt and Easter candy. I had a choice. I refused to get upset. I refused to be frustrated. I calmly put the yogurt back into the refrigerator. I put my other eye’s liner on. I plugged in the curling iron. I mediated. I took deep breaths. I referred them to brush their teeth and get their school bags.

I carried on. It was getting closer to crunch time. My oldest sounded the 8:01a.m. alarm. I knew the bus would be coming. I stopped. I had to make a choice to get them out the door. I wanted them off with smiles and hugs. I refused to not be mindful. I refused to let the chaos win. The chaos fought me hard. One went out the front door, one out into the garage, the other climbed into my car. Stop. We are not leaving yet. Come back in. They all did, eventually.

All he wanted was his snow boots. I tried to explain to him he wouldn’t need them today. He kept asking about the weather. Through the hair dryer I could hear him saying it is sunny now but a dark cloud is coming. He wondered if the cloud meant rain or snow. I had a choice to stop the hair dryer and crouch down to his level, meeting him face to face explaining he would not need the snow boots. I chose to put on his tennis shoes. I didn’t see he was frustrated. I didn’t let him explain. All he wanted to tell me was that if it was going to rain or snow and he didn’t have his boots he would have to stay on the asphalt during recess.

20130402-141259.jpgI had a choice to listen or be the parent in charge. I chose to be the parent in charge. I chose to not listen. He walked out the door with his head hanging low muttering a statement which really was asking for permission. He was going to grab his snow boots anyway. I saw his fingers grasp the boots. I removed them from his hands and put them back on the shelf. He grabbed them again. The bus was coming.

My oldest took off without a hug or a kiss. My baby was climbing into my car and then the bus stopped. I took the boots from his hand and threw them into his bag. I told him he was not listening. I chose to be upset. I kissed him off quickly and with his head down he walked down the 150 feet path of cement.

I was defeated. I let the chaos win. I did not send them off as I intended. I motioned for him to run. He never looked back. He never picked up his head. He stayed at the same defeated pace. Still yet I was upset. Upset that he didn’t listen. But really it was I who didn’t listen. I was too busy giving in to chaos. I made a choice to ease into the morning. A choice I knew would have repercussions. A choice I knew could lead to farewell defeats.

Then she grabbed a tissue as he boarded the bus. She wiped his eyes and hugged him. My heart sank. My eyes dripped with water. I wanted nothing more to run to them and get them off the bus. How could I let this happen. I was mindful of what she did. It bothered me. It stung. I felt like I failed. I made a choice.

Parenting isn’t always easy. Especially when you have multiple children and you are a working parent. It is a fine balancing act; getting yourself ready for work and children off to school. The intentions are good. The breakfast is nutritious. The lunches are packed. The schoolbags are ready. The teeth are brushed. Everything is in place. But what our little ones want most is to be heard. I know in this instance I was only acting on motherly intuition. I only wanted the absolute best for the children. But sometimes, we need to stop and just listen. Our children can provide an enormous amount of teaching. If we just choose to listen.