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!


No Weight Limit Needed  



Wish I May, Wish I Might Make a Little Resolution Tonight

Wish I May, Wish I Might Make a Resolution Tonight
Wish I May, Wish I Might Make a Resolution Tonight

I remember in my younger years, and for your information they were not that long ago, when new Year’s Eve would translate into PAR-TAY! As a twenty something single thing it was all about what to wear, where to go and who to see. It was expensive, draining and I usually woke up the next year with a banging headache and various thoughts, up to and including WTF?

Luckily for all of us I grew out of the need to PAR-TAY on New Year’s Eve and use the time for more useful things. Yet the past few years I sort of turned away from well of course the partying but making resolutions as well. I would just get fed up by January 21, like the rest of us, because they weren’t happening. I wasn’t successful because I had this huge amount of pressure from me, myself and I.

It’s not like the New Year’s Baby was gonna come after me with a noise maker and beat me to a pulp for breaking resolution #10 for the 35+ year again. Life happens and things get in the way. But I would get all wishy, washy and venture out and buy a beautifully crafted notebook that cost a gazillion dollars because it looked all pretty and start over by listing “revised” resolutions. That crap lasted until about March when I said the heck with it. Then I started to plan for the next year.

Now that I am wiser and more experienced in life, I think of it more as a yearly to-do list broken down by months with weekly goals. It is more about things I want to accomplish, who I want to accomplish them with and where I want them accomplished. It’s the strategy of how that gets me all messed up.

You see the easy part is I know what I want for the coming year. I can even close my eyes and see myself there. I see smiles, beautiful travel places, fearlessness and so much happiness that it looks like Mr. Sunshine cracked open a can of happ-a$$. It’s when I open my eyes that I lose sight of the whole damn picture. Do you want to know why that is? Because of reality.

So this year, I am challenging, not resolving or intending, but challenging myself to make my current reality a part of this place called the past. I do not want to close my eyes to see it happening, I want to live it, breathe it, smell it, feel it and taste it. So watch out people, I’ve got an arsenal of goodies to keep me moving forward to that little thing we call a dream.

Goodies in My New Years Pack of Tricks

1. Fluorescent Yellow Boxing Gloves so this way they’ll know I’m coming and they can’t say they were surprised.

2. Oversized sunglasses to shield my eyes from things that make me go hmm.

3. A great pair of running shoes so when the going gets tough, the tough gets going…and going…and going and I will run Swimgirl, run.

4. Red underwear because every Italian girl needs a pair. (Google it – Red underwear + Italian).

5. An extended duster buster so when the $hit hits the fan, I can clean up afterwards.

6. North Face Leg and Arm warmers so if everything is taken from me, I will still have toasty warm legs, arms and oh a nice pair of red underwear.

7. A pen, pad of paper and a good book.

8. Cocobon wine because that stuff is the bomb Trader Joe’s and it does a body good.

81/2. Cocobon wine. Did I mention how this stuff is the bomb?

9. A pedometer so I can tell all the judgemental ones to walk -x- amount of miles in my shoes everyday and then tell me how things should be.

10. A yoga mat because when everything else around me is going wacky I can make like child’s pose and OM.

11. A camouflage head band to wrap my weary head and remind me sometimes what I know, I know and it may be a one woman fight. So bring your A-Game Ramboette.

12. Post It Notes and envelopes to send little random stickies to people when I think of them.

13. An open mind and an open heart.

So if I can create 52 little goals that each lead to twelve big months, I can safely say that 2013 will be by far my most challenging, life altering and most rewarding year of my life. It’s reality but it is time I make it the reality I long for when I close my eyes and wish I may, wish I might.

So strap on your fanny packs and fill them up with all the little things you need to make 2013 your most ________________ year. You fill in the blank. It’s your reality! Now go start making it happen!

Even if you fall on your face, you're still moving forward - Victor Kiam
Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward – Victor Kiam

What’s In Your Cup? Changing The World One Parent at a Time

Trust yourself.  Only you can live your life.  Only you can taste your victories.  Only you can suffer the sting of your defeats.  Make your own choices, and suffer your own consequences - for better or worse. - Jonathan Lockwood Huie(Photograph courtesy of Google Images)
Trust yourself. Only you can live your life. Only you can taste your victories. Only you can suffer the sting of your defeats. Make your own choices, and suffer your own consequences – for better or worse. – Jonathan Lockwood Huie
(Photograph courtesy of Google Images)

I know many of you are waking up today the same way I rose from my slumber. My heart is heavy, my thoughts are everywhere and I have lost some of the Holiday spirit. If you are a parent, you squeezed and hugged your children extra tightly this morning before getting them off to school. If you are an educator or school administrator, you walked into your building with a little apprehension today. Does it really matter the reason or motives behind such a crime on innocent children and educators who care for our children everyday?

What may matter more than anything is what happens, right now, this day forward. We are not going to have the answers overnight or by the New Year, but I know what was in my cup this morning, and I pray I never have to experience that again.

Sometimes before turning off the light at night and resting my head, I curl up to a good book with a steaming, hot cup of decaffeinated coffee. I usually only have a few sips but I love it at night as much as I do upon rising. So when I proceeded this morning to take my half full cup from last night to the kitchen, started a fresh caffeinated pot and then made off to get some laundry started, I anticipated that first sip. As I poured myself my first cup o’ Joe, I ran back to the laundry room to finish up the load. Then I grabbed my cup and took a big sip. In my cup was twelve-hour old coffee with cream that sent chills down my esophagus. It was cold, bitter and down right nasty.

The experience alone makes me never want to dive into that pool of nasty, bitterness again. Yet, this horrible taste got me to thinking. What if we can change the world one parent at a time? I grew up in the 1980’s where not everyone made the team. That you had to work hard for a place. You couldn’t just be on a roster or show up to get a trophy. Only the winner walked away with the silver and the rest of us had to accept the defeat. It taught me to work harder and never give up. It showed me that being defeated is not the end but a means to success. It emphasized teamwork and what I, as an individual member of the team, had to do to help us achieve our goals. It gave myself and my team time to ponder our strengths and work on our weaknesses.

Sometimes it gives us a bad taste, so we don't make the same mistake next time - Swimgirl
Sometimes it gives us a bad taste, so we don’t make the same mistake next time – Swimgirl

It helped prepare me for adulthood by allowing me to deal with shortcomings. That a good work ethic and determination can overcome a loss. I was able to process that a lack of a trophy didn’t mean I was a loser but just not the best. I was okay with that because my parents made me deal with it. So I dealt.

There were no status updates to share about how we lost or tweeting about how bad it sucked. There were no computers. There were three channels, 3, 5 and 8 that I could grab a pint of Rocky Road and try to indulge my grief in. So, I went outside and played. I ran to my friend’s house and we ran to another friends house. We rounded up the neighborhood and played tag and lawn games. We laughed and played and moved on. We faced reality and dealt with it.

So, now that I am a mother, I naturally wanted to be a coach. I loved the good old days of sports and competitions. When I was asked to be a cheerleading coach when my oldest was two, I was delighted and honored. I was given a ten page packet of the rules. Starting with 1) Every Kid Makes The Team. So if 28 children, both boys and girls, signed up for cheerleading, they would all be on the team. 2) Only 8 Children On The Field Or Courts At Any One Time. So I had to pick and choose who would be paired up with who. Do I aim for like kind or an equal balance of skill? Would holding the better athletes accountable for the less experienced athletes hinder them from performing at their full capabilities? Would those with little or no skill try to be better or just float through the season because they were all members of the team?

Needless to say, I turned the position down. I decided eight years ago that whether I had one or ten children, I would prepare them for the real world. Not in drill sergeant format or anything but good old-fashioned common sense parental guidance. I would want my children to work hard and earn their place. I wouldn’t want them to just go through the motions because they would never be cut from the team. If I can buy them anything they want, I won’t. Unless they work hard to earn it. They will get jobs if they want a car. They will have responsibilities around the house with and without an allowance. This way they can learn their value in the household and that we as a family, all work together. I will be honest with them. Not to hurt their feelings but so they understand there is no sugar-coating in the real world.

(Photograph courtesy of Google Images)
(Photograph courtesy of Google Images)

Parents, caregivers and guardians, what if we went back to the 1980’s? Are we setting our children up for failure in the real world by giving them everything? Are we taking away enough of their computer, text and handheld game time to get them out in nature? Are we enabling our children so much that they get rewarded for bad behavior as well as good? Are we really helping our children by shielding them from everything? Perhaps, we are telling them too much. So much to the point that they are losing their sense of respect for authority. Are our children so used to having no consequences for their actions that they have become fearless? Are we setting the appropriate boundaries for our youth?

What’s In Your Cup? How are you raising your children? Naturally, we only want the best for our children. I am just worried we are giving them too much, enabling them too much and taking the fall for their mistakes. We have to give our children a backbone. Think of how we were raised. Our parents both worked, even if mom was just part-time. We had chores and received nothing for it. We went out for sports and either made it or didn’t. We rode bikes to our friends to hang out rather than secluded in our rooms chatting on Facebook. We had jobs and got grounded for poor grades and bad behavior. Our teachers tapped us on our hands with rulers and we were scolded by our parents in public.

This taught us respect, work ethic, love, humility, perseverance, and empathy for humankind. This post has been brewing for some time just like the day old coffee in my cup this morning. I want our children safe, our educators and school administration to go to work without fear. I want to go to the movies with my pals and shop in the malls with my family. I want peace on earth. I know it starts with me, at home and what my calling as a parent means. I want my children to be prepared for the real world, be able to handle defeat and realize some things in life are just not fair. I want them to be strong but able to empathize with others. I want them to not be selfish by putting others before themselves.

I am not sure if we can ever make sense of recent events. I am not sure what the answers will be. I cry, I hurt and I fear but if we can give anything to those precious babies, their families and the teachers and staff it is a silent promise that we will somehow make a difference. No deed, no matter how small or large, goes unnoticed. It’s more of a personal committment to me. It starts right now, for them, for you, for us and for our world. So please let me know if I am out of line here, way off the beaten path or maybe onto something. I want my MTV back too!



I thought I would reblog this for today. Happy Father’s Day to all!

Turn Around and Swim

When I was a little girl I would stare at a plaque in my dad’s “work room” (aka his lure tying, fish tournament trophy museum and his buddies gathering place) in our basement.  I couldn’t read the words but remember the wood engraved picture.  It was a man in a boat casting a fishing rod into a lake while a child sat next to him.  I can close my eyes and see that image as if the sawdust is falling right now.

As I grew older and was able to read, the words engraved on the plaque merely meant nothing to me.  In fact, as a young six-year-old, it didn’t make any sense.  I kept reading the engraved words in my head over and over with the hopes that one day it would make some sense.  I was too shy to ask my father what the saying meant.

At the time, to me, father…

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Red, White and You!

This is absolutely my favorite weekend of the year!  The official kick off of summer!  In the Northeastern parts of the country, the first plantings of the garden get folded into the soil and the sounds of children echo across the yards.  The pools are officially open for business and we start to have more warm days than not.

Memorial Day weekend deserves that honorable mention for all things it represents.  Early sunrises and the morning dewCatching fireflies at dusk.  Bonfires and s’more making and sporting a sun-kissed glow.  Balls cracking on bats and bicycle rides in the park.  Children running through sprinklers and patriotism.  I can go on and on.  So with all things warm and sunny, I thought I would share my official kick-off to summer guide.  Now remember, don’t forget your sunscreen!

The Unofficial Guide to Kick-Off Summer

Dare to bare!  Nothing says summertime like shorts, tees and tanks.  Bathing suits can sometimes be classified as the unmentionables and speedos, well let’s just not go there.  But the best part of summer is going barefoot in the grass.  It is a fantastic form of therapy.  Whether you want to cool off your feet, give them a gentle massage or just transform back to childhood, a trip barefoot in the grass will do just that.

Have s’more!  Sweet, gooey and delicious.  Who isn’t a fan of s’mores?  Yet, the best part of them is making them.  I am not talking in foil preparation in your oven or microwaved on a micro safe plate.  The good old-fashioned way.  Light a bonfire, grab a stick and insert that marshmallow.  You decide if you want to torch the creamy puff, lightly brown or barely toast.  The options are endless and the messier the better!

Fire ‘er up!  Take the cover off, scrape the winter from the rack and get it stoked.  Don’t be intimidated!  You can prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts right on the barbie.  You can cook eggs and some turkey bacon in a pan right on the grill.  Create a veggie and fish packet with foil,  skewer some plums, pears and peaches, drizzle with olive oil and turn before they burn.  Take the cooking outdoors!

Get sprinkled!  Who says you have to be under the age of ten to run through the sprinkler.  Who cares if your neighbors think you have lost your mind.  It’s summer and anything goes!  If running or skipping is not your thing, unroll the folding chair and relax while the cool mist blankets you!

Play Ball!  Grab your buddies, the neighborhood kids and even grandma Flo, it’s time to take it to the streets.  Power down the Blackberry and iPad, shut off your Kindle, turn off the tube and swing batter, batter, swing.  Organize a game of America’s favorite pastime.  A game of neighborhood ball can get all ages involved whether they are playing, cheering or handing out slushies.  Technology often keeps us less social.  So grab a ball, bat and dust off the gloves!  Batter up!

Turn around and swim! I know, cheesy, but nevertheless, dive in!  Get a membership to the community pool, slide into the mountain springs or paddle with the ocean waves.  Summer is not summer until you go for a swim, tread or float.

 Two scoops not one!  When it comes to ice cream, two scoops is ALWAYS better than one.  On a cone, in a bowl or dripping off your chin.  Refeed your soul!  Everything in moderation!  Even Jenny C, Valerie Bertinelli and Sensa will agree, it’s okay to have an occasional cheat!  How many points, calories or carbs?  Who cares!  This is summer!

Grab a Net!  All things that can be caught with a net should be caught and then set free!  Remember chasing fireflies and wanting to keep them forever as pets?  Then in the morning you woke to find mom or dad tell you that “somehow” they got away.  So as soon as dusk fell you would scurry out again to try to find them.  I love watching children chase butterflies or catching crabs in the creek.  Shoes and street clothes on and wet, makes it even better!  It’s summer, the heat will dry them off!

Have a picnic!  Grab a blanket, pack some sandwiches and fruit and head to the park.  The ants and little summer bugs are the perfect picnic cleaner uppers for the crumbs.  Toss a frisby for a nice post meal work-out and indulge in a piece of juicy fruit for dessert.

Salute!  Although Memorial Day is an U.S. Holiday, you can still salute.  It can be a flag, soldier, cause or organization.  Make time to honor an event or person.  Be grateful for what you have and not what you don’t.

So, there you have it.  My little suggestions to kick-off summer wherever in the world you may be.  A few years ago I had the privilege of being in Pearl Harbor, HI on Memorial Day.  It brought out a lot of emotions for me.  But the best part is when I shook the hand of a veteran who survived the attacks.  It made me appreciate that this weekend does not just mark the official kick-off of summer but it can also be a time of reflection.

So as the sun kisses your cheeks, the ice cream drips down your chin and the grass gets stuck between your toes, take time to reflect on all that is important to you.  I know it is not the bills you have to pay, the negative medical test result you received or the personal or career struggle you are facing.  You have one life, choose to live it!  There is no better time to start, then summertime (aka right now)!


The Ride of My Life

My son got a new bike for his Birthday courtesy of my dear mom and dad. Well it started as a bike but then turned into a $85.00 LEGO Batman set.  Now you would expect the box to be the size of a refrigerator and equipped with a coupon for one free ride in the Batmobile.

Wee, wee, look at me…I cost $85.00!
Yet it was just about the size of a Nike shoe box and ours must have been missing the free ride coupon aboard the Batmobile through Gotham City. Anyway, little junior agreed he needed the bike more than a trillion small pieces that give you arthritis at first glance and present a choking hazard for two-year old brothers  Good choice son!

So mama ran the $85.00 rattling box back to the toy store and picked him out a nice little mountain bike. Funny, as after the exchange, I only needed 12 dollars to cover the difference. LEGO you’ve got issues!

It takes a day for assembly.  So on the eve of the next day, I busted through the gates of the toy store with three minutes to spare before closing and the party rock employees literally threw the bike at me. I did cut them some slack for after all it was 9:30pm on a Friday. I get it, the club calls.  So much so that I had to take out the bike and load it into the vehicle myself. Oh well, party on toy store worker not people.

I was too exhausted to unload the bike when I got home so decided it would be a nice deterrent Saturday morning when I break it to my little men that I am going to head out for a quick workout. They were all up and ready to roll outside at 6:30am.  So I sprang from my slumber to give him his bike.

It would have been a wonderful surprise had the handle bars not have been cracked, seat torn up and chain dismantled and tangled. SERIOUSLY, I would have kept the LEGOS!  Now my deterrent was a flop, junior is let down and I have to take the darn bike back.

Picture courtesy of Google Images

So as soon as the store opens I call the toy store. The “customer service” personnel advises for me to bring the bike back, pick out a new box and they will reassemble.  Then I can come back on Sunday to get it. Oh isn’t she just so cute. Yes, umm and no!  See sweetie you have it all wrong.

So I proceed to say, “I appreciate your offer or shall we say suggestion but what I am going to have to do is read you the item number off my receipt so you can pick a box for assembly. Then I will make one trip to exchange out bikes.”  Yes, I was put on a hold and then finally she agreed. What a fantastic deal we have.  Anyways it all went well and we have the new bike. So I knew it would mean the world to junior if when I got home from work, we could go on a bike ride.

I never would have guessed how much he would talk. He told me about his girlfriend (really he has a girlfriend), his fears for the upcoming school year and that he wants to get better at baseball. He told me about how he really would like new Crocs and to have more playdates with his friends.

He went on and on about when he turns 10 or 11 or maybe 12 he could ride down to his friend’s house. Oh he was just testing the waters though cause he quickly followed it up with, “But ya know, you could ride with me and then ride home while I play!” So quick to catch my stern eye.  Smart boy I say!

He told me how he tried to get his middle brother to learn to ride his “old” bike, because 1.75 days constitutes old, but that his little brother was too afraid. Finally, I was able to get a word in and replied, “You too were once afraid.”  He said, “I know and I don’t like to think about it.”

Because when he thinks about it he thinks about how bloody and scrapped up he got. That daddy made him keep trying and trying and then would give him strawberries and turkey rolls.  But then he said, while eating his post bike attack snack, “Daddy’s football show or something like that would come on and I was so happy!”  I asked him why and he told me the show had a countdown and when it would get to the last number, he knew it would mean that I was almost home from work and that would make him so happy because he missed me so much.

I know exactly what show he is talking about because as soon as I walked in the door, the second thing I did was turn down the television.  It was ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption show that airs at 5:30 p.m. ET.  Seriously, is it just me or isn’t this the cutest thing ever.  To think my then little five-year old would watch this using the show’s timer and countdown until my arrival home.  It obviously was before he could tell time.

Pardon The Interruption…My Mommy Will be Home Soon!
Oh my goodness, the sweetest thing I ever heard. This was 4 years ago. It is amazing what our children think and just don’t know how to articulate. It took a bike ride that lasted thirty minutes to know more about my son than I thought I knew in nine years.  The very fact that he could recall what he ate and watched like it happened yesterday is just simply amazing.

And just when I thought this ride couldn’t get any better, he turned to me and said, “Mom, we should do this more often.”  I didn’t let on that I was melting but did tell him, “Absolutely, because this was the best ride of my life!”

We often take for granted the little things that mean the most. We live in a very fast paced techno world these days with LEGO sets that cost $85 dollars or more.  Our children don’t need the stuff that comes in boxes. They need face to face conversation. Perhaps it takes place on a hike, bike or stroll. But nevertheless, the moments are priceless!  Top that LEGO!  And thank you ESPN for helping my little guy to pass the time until mommy came home.  Now if you will pardon the interruption, I am heading out for a bike ride…