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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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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Let Running Reign

20130416-110836.jpg “We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves…The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.’ The human spirit is indomitable.” -Sir Roger Bannister, first runner to run a sub-4 minute mile

For a runner, running is freedom.  Running is facing your fears, your “I cannots” and going the extra mile.  When your feet hit the pavement, it creates a symphony.  A collection of notes you create.  You set the tempo, the softness and the beat as you go along with Mother Nature’s rhythm.

Some days we conquer and others days we take it slow, erring on the side of caution. Then there are those days we have no fear.  We plow through. Sometimes we arrive sooner and other times later. But we arrive.  We are present.

We gain acceptance of the challenges, conquer our fears of the unknown and relish in the beauty and adventure. When we finish, we are humbled.  We are strong.  We overcame.  We defeated our negative thoughts.  We made it happen.

Whether we are crossing a finishing line, laying down to rest or slowing down to avoid injury, we conquered.  We let running reign and so to will freedom.


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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.


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense

In a new post created for this challenge, share a picture that says FUTURE TENSE.

Future Tense

Future Tense

The start of a toddlers day involves chocolate milk, changing out of a pull-up and watching Blues Clues.  It’s the little things in the mind of a three-year old that gets their day off to the right start.

Then one day my little Peeno just gazed out the window.  As he was watching the neighbors head off to work and his older brothers leaving on the bus he turned to me and said, “One day mommy I will be like them.”  Then he went back to making sound effects of Thomas while he drove his train along the windowsill. 

One day my little man, one day. 

The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time – Abraham Lincoln


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$182.13 and You Got What?

Some people decided to drink their St. Patty’s Day away. Others suddenly turned Irish for a day. Some looked to the leprachauns for luck and inspiration. I went broke on my three little clovers. I decided to forego the festivities and spend the day with my little men. We had a great day filled with a mommy workout, a free lunch due to their creative coloring artwork submissions to a local cafe, boys haircuts super pimped out style, a trip to the grocer and an all hands on deck homemade dinner. It was the “Patty’s Day of Perfection”. Well almost.

After it took more of a workout to get out the door Sunday morning to get the kids to my gym than my actual workout, I got dooped by the gym childcare center. Apparently somewhere between a gym name change and last Saturday they now require a key card pass to check the kids into the kiddie zone at the gym. I’m sorry but I seem to have missed that memo. It required all this paperwork, new credit card on file, blood type, shoe size, a photo ID of me with the kids, me separately and then each kid separately. By the time I checked into the workout class they were already 3 towels of sweat into their groove and by the time I busted my first bead, class dismissed. Huh?

Then off we went to gather our free brunch courtesy of childhood doodles. As they each cashed in their lucky leprechaun coloring pics, I was standing in between them and the mob of drunks from the local college who needed a quick carb fix before round two of their Guinness frenzy. Yikes. When you tell children some people just act silly on St. Patty’s day and they look at you with a questionable gleam in their eyes, do know they know. Anyways, we carried on through our brunch while I distracted them by spilling Vitamin Water all over my lap. Oh boys, time to go, mommy made a mess.

Would you like a hot facial wrap with your neck and shoulder massage there little fella?

Would you like a hot facial wrap with your neck and shoulder massage there little fella?

Luckily it was a “National Holiday” or something observed for all things Irish and nobody was getting their haircut on a Sunday afternoon. Most people don’t down 10 pints of Guinness and crave a haircut. Most people. So we had the whole place to ourselves. Now let me tell you these boys got the royal sports spa deluxe treatment for free. I’m talking haircut, scalp massage, wash, wax, dry, finish, hot towel facial wrap and neck and shoulder massage. They definitely got the MVP VIP upgrade. I can only imagine how they talked their way into this one.

When I went to the ladies room I didn’t expect to come out and see the three amigos getting massages and wrapped in towels. But I do know what I will do the next time they are getting too wild and crazy. I will institute the mommy hot towel wrap massage session. They were so quiet. I totally would have paid extra for this service and I even inquired how I can pay in advance to secure this MVP VIP treatment in the future. I actually read six uninterrupted pages of my book I downloaded last August. Count them. Six. Six whole pages.

Now with nothing but time and booze free fun ahead of us, we headed to the grocer for a few things. The kids begged and pleaded for each of them to have their own cart. Peeno had a mini me and Noochie and Nickelbass got the express shopper dual basket cart. So we were off. Mama duck and her three little ducklings cruising from aisle to aisle. Now when there is one cart and eight hands, I can usually put things back onto the shelves (a few aisles away of course – and I do apologize in advance for messing up the store). But when there are four carts and three sets of grabby hands, I cannot be responsible for what happens.

So, as they were unloading their carts and I was desperately trying to open a fruit stick for Peeno before he had a major meltdown, the cashier was scanning and scanning and scanning. It wasn’t until my oldest asked, “Umm Mommy, do you have money? Like a lot?” I immediately threw down the fruit stick, well, tried to shake the sticky thing, and peered up at the running total. $170.00 and still scanning. Then the cashier pages Customer Service Baggage Help. Oh no that could never be a good sign. So when all was said and done I had to hand over a card because cash wouldn’t cut it as my total was $182.13. Cha-ching! Now mind you I had just gone grocery shopping three days earlier.

Being this independent can only mean trouble.

Being this independent can only mean trouble.

When we got home and I began to unload the groceries, these are some of the items we now have in stock. Two pineapples, a cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes on the vine, hydroponic tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, potatoes in every family to include Idaho, Yukon, Red, Sweet and Yam. We also have every variety of Kids Cliff bars in triples. Three mega size shower gels, deodorant for a five-year old, protein powder for a nine-year old, bananas, more bananas, another pineapple, almond bites, ice cream sandwiches, 4 pints of ice cream and frozen pizza in plain, BBQ chicken, Greek, pepperoni and sausage. We also have sesame sticks, trail mix in everywhere color of the rainbow and I no longer have a pot o’ gold.

But we learned about economics and bartering. We learned that sometimes it takes 4 bags of coffee to get the grinder to explode work and grind the beans. We learned that our grocer has a baggage help person on staff. We learned that coupons are pointless when it comes to keeping hands from getting stuck on a conveyor belt. We learned that mommy cannot just whip out a card when the green stuff runs low. We learned teamwork and most importantly we learned that spending time together, no matter what the cost, is worth it. Even if after $182.13 and my bags didn’t even include mommy juice wine.

After the initial shock of cost and the full stocked pantry, we were able to use our ingredients to prepare a delicious dinner. Like all hands in the cart, we had all hands in the Sunday dinner food prep. It was lovely and if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t get a sitter for two hours at $10.00 bucks a pop for a quiet budget wise trip. Sometimes the most unplanned and out of budget mishaps turn into the best adventures.

Mishaps are like knives, that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the blade or the handle. - James Russell Lowell

Mishaps are like knives, that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the blade or the handle. – James Russell Lowell

So parents, do you bring your children to the grocer? Do you leave them at home with a sitter? What did you do back in the day?


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E.T. Finally Went Home

E.T. Please Go Home!With the modern technology of today, this should be really easy for you buddy.

E.T. Please Go Home!
With the modern technology of today, this should be really easy for you buddy.

I had this bright idea about three weeks ago for Friday family movie night. I figured I’d light a fire, make some organic popcorn via stove top and put in E.T. It was PG right and the 1980’s were such an innocent time. For instance, I only had to fast forward a few times during the opening scene when the junior high boys and their little siblings were playing poker and smoking cigarettes. It’s all good. Oh and just one other time when one of the characters was calling Elliot “penis breathe.” Such a different time back then. Take note I am still not explaining what “penis breathe” is and oh my goodness the cigarettes and second-hand smoke, what is that they ask? Fast forward. Fast forward. Fast forward.

Well I might have dodged a few bullets and left Google to curious minds (insert website parental block) but I cannot escape from E.T. I cannot escape from the fact that for three weeks E.T. has caused me 21 sleepless nights. The fact that the slimy little alien resides in my three-year olds closet and now he refuses to sleep in his room or own bed. The fact that E.T. will not go home. He has traumatized my parental guidance well-being as well as my three-year old.

Whose fancy idea was it again to watch this during family movie night? Never, ever assume PG in the 1980’s is equivalent to a negative G un-squared rating in the millenia. Just because our parents exposed us to such horror in extra terrestrial beings, fury hairball Gremlins and homes in Amityville does not mean we should be quick to assume these viewings as 1980’s young-ins were safe and in our best interests as children. Perspectives change big time in 30 years. Imaginations are now technologically stimulated. “Penis breathe” is disgusting and microwaves and fury animals should never coincide. I should have researched a 1980’s PG rating. I mean it would have told me rated as such for language and mild thematic elements. Never assume, mommy. Never assume!

Plus as a mother of three boys, it is bad enough I have enough masculine energy in my home to last me a lifetime. I don’t need to stimulate the thoughts of little boys or need fake aliens harassing me. I would be horrified if my son’s kindergarten teacher called me because my little Noochie was in the principal’s office for calling a fellow kindergartener a “penis breathe.” Oh and the thought of my little dog being a test pilot for a Gremlins retake in my stainless steel microwave just sends chills up my spine. Do not give my boys any more ideas. And E.T., please phone your mother and go home already! You are driving me nuts!

Picture Courtesy of Google Images

Picture Courtesy of Google Images

Well, last night just like clockwork, little Peeno ventured into our bedroom teary-eyed and horrified. E.T. was screaming and giggling in his closet. As usual, the response was, “E.T. IS NOT REAL! Go to sleep!” Then in the morning little Peeno ran out again in tears because I left him alone in my king size bed and E.T. could have escaped from his closet and taken him. I can’t win. Plus my five-year old chimes in, “So, mommy, is E.T. then fictional or nonfictional?” I literally spit out my coffee laughing. He is so academically literal and if I answered, “He’s not real,” I would have been given a literary lecture. So I answered, “He is fictional. Now please eat your breakfast.”

Now given that my children run circles around me from sun up to sun down and I have no time for searching for E.T., I probably would never have gotten to the bottom of the horror in his closet. But since my hubby is a kid at heart, if you will, he went on an all out search for E.T. with the boys. If I ever credit this man for his childlike behavior, it will be for the finding of E.T.

So while they were on an alien hunt I was getting ready for work, packing lunches, doing laundry, woofing down breakfast and getting ready to make my bed. You know, big kid things. Then there on my bed was an article of clothing and a few accessories that I haven’t seen or touched in many years. It was my wedding slip, veil and tiara head-piece. I come running out to the kitchen where the alien hunt meeting was taking place and start frantically asking who touched this and why is it on my bed and flipping out of sorts. My husband looks at me and says, “Do you want to get to the bottom of the E.T. debacle or what?”

I sure do but not at the expense of my time and secretly hidden garments from the boys. There are certain things that are just off-limits and I purposely hid them in the closet so nobody will touch them. As all eyes are looking at me while I’m holding the garments and accessories, their gazes became blinding. In that moment of darkness I realized I was holding E.T. and I hid him in the closet. Oh my heavens. So, now that I just freaked out on everybody I looked at them and sure enough, my husband says, “THAT, what you are holding, is E.T.” E.T. was hiding in Peeno’s closet after all. In fact the more I looked at it, I could see the slimy alien dressed in a wig and tiara hiding in the closet. I just had a major mommy failure.

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Can You See The Resemblance?

photo

So the moral of the situation goes if your three-year old says E.T. is in his closet, he probably is. If more often than not your husband acts like a child, it may just save the day. For as a grown, mature adult, I never would have taken up the hunt for E.T. Like my five-year old, we are too literal. For in our minds E.T. is fictional. It’s black or white and everyone should grasp this concept in my family.

But in the future I will get down like GI-Joe ready to turn into The Hulk if need be to find the 1980’s or equivalent creatures that lurk in the closets of little boys. Now that E.T. is in my closet, I should get a complete night of sleep. Until next time when they stumble upon the clawed pinstripe sweater man, Freddy. Oh and if you sometimes question your sanity, blame it on the movies we were exposed to in the 80’s. It’s all Spielberg’s and the likes fault.