A Side of Rice

Hopefully Humorous (and sometimes R-rated) Musings About Life


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My Son Just Experimented with Grass…

…mowing. Grass mowing. What the hell were you readers thinking, anyway?

Alex has become aware of the value of our money earning money, and asked for ways he could — in his words — “start makin’ da Benjamin’s, mom.” 

“You can start by makin’ da Washington’s. Or perhaps if you are lucky, da Lincolns, son,” was my reply.

This summer, we employed a neighbor’s daughter to mow our lawn because lacrosse, baseball, and football sucked up all of our time on the weekends. Plus, the required close-toed shoes for lawn mowing do not allow me to show off my pedicure. Pedicures > lawn maintenance. Just sayin’.

With school back in session, our summer lawn gal is now very busy with her rigorous high school classes and volleyball practice/games. Alex, on the other hand, has been very busy playing the replacement xBox we just received. When he’s not doing schoolwork or playing football, of course.

So this weekend, I told him I would pay him $20 to mow the lawn. It’s the first time he’s ever handled the lawn mower, so I stayed outside with him.

He did pretty well until he hit the water access pipe. It was a bit hidden under a pile of leaves, but he managed to damage the lid. He ran over it with the lawn mower, it made a loud metal-against-metal noise as it came off, wedged between the blade and the side of the blade casing, and completely shut down the mower.

My husband came outside and proceeded to bemoan the fact that only with our dumb luck would the top get wedged into the mower so tightly, it would require a hammer and a mallet to remove it. And a few dozen cuss words.

No, Water Authority, I have no idea how the top got all broken like that.

No, Water Authority, I have no idea how the top got all broken like that.

Once my husband de-wedged the top and carefully set it back in place, Alex avoided that area. He moved on to the side of the house, and while working on the area near our air conditioning unit, he promptly frightened the life out of a rabbit who usually lives in our bushes in front of the house. The rabbit popped out from behind the unit and took off running into our backyard. Alex was so startled, he let go of the mower and then had to chase it as it was headed into the side of our house.

He was able to finish up the lawn without further incident. He showed great form getting under trees, cornering, and missing lots of spots.

And in the end, he was one happy camper, having earned $20.

Mow the lawn 5

Hey mom, how ’bout you pay up?

Let’s just hope when it comes to grass in the future, he focuses on mowing it.


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Boys to Men

As my readers know, we are a big sports-focused family. If we aren’t wasting every loving minute of the weekend at fields with no indoor plumbing cheering on our boys at some event, we are watching a Steelers/Orioles/Capitals/Wizards game on TV or getting an update of the pro sports teams my boys and husband support via ESPN.

On some occasions, our TV might be tuned to some stupid shit on DisneyXD  like “Watch Me Be Loveable Before I Turn into a Post-Disney-Channel-Star-Felon”.  I’m looking at you Miley — tongue always on display + foam finger you rub in your girly bits = Hot. Fucking. Mess.

But lately, ESPN has been more like a broadcast RAP sheet than score and injury reports. All I’m seeing is spoiled, rich boys who misbehave as if they are above it all. They don’t think of consequences and certainly don’t say to themselves “Hey, this is wrong, I’m not going to do it.”  And all the bull shit contriteness, taking no responsibility until they get caught in the act:

  • The now infamous video of Ray Rice and his then fiancé — now wife — Janay, and their violent and allegedly drunken altercation in a hotel elevator.
  • Chris Davis discovered using an illegal/banned performance enhancing substance after a mandatory drug test, which lead to a 25 game suspension.
  • Adrian Peterson facing felony child abuse charges after disciplining his 4-year old with a switch, after pictures of the child’s injuries surfaced.
  • Ray McDonald’s arrested on felony domestic assault charges.
  • Jonathan Dwyer arrested on aggravated assault charges against his wife.
  • Aaron Hernandez, who is being held without bail following his indictment on three felony murder charges. Don’t even get me started about that piece of garbage.

I feel like it’s not safe for my kids to watch ESPN, when I have to explain things like “domestic violence”, “rape”, “illicit drugs”, “felony murder”, “child abuse”, etc.  It’s one thing if I’m watching The First 48 or Investigation Discovery and they happen to walk in on a show. But ESPN?

And then watching Sunday NFL Countdown last week, we saw this:

NFL Sunday Countdown

Grown men pointing out the wrongs. Grown men admitting it happened to them.

But grown men owning up to the fact that it is up to us — each individual — to break the cycle of violence, and not make excuses for perpetuating it. Grown men admonishing these athletes for their bad behavior, and expressing disappointment because they are all smart enough to know better.

I will continue to talk with my boys about these scary topics, in the best way I know how. I want them to be good men, do the right thing, know where boundaries are, not cross them, and own their actions.

In the meantime, I only hope all those professional athletes grow out of being boys and embrace what it really means to be a man.

 

 


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Losing Our Cool

My husband and I lost our cool this week. Big time.

It was no one’s fault, really. And it all started so innocently enough…

We headed to the high school football field on Friday evening for the opening game of the 2014 season. Our boys are part of the Junior Lions program, a pipeline for high school football development, that begins at age 5 with flag football and goes through eighth grade. Each Friday night, Junior Lions can attend the high school game in their uniform jersey and help the community cheer on the team.

Alex and my husband enjoy the games because they can talk strategy about the team and the plays called. Nick loves it because most of his favorite food groups are offered at the concession stand, including hot dogs, cheeseburgers, nachos with cheese, and french fries. I love it because I don’t have to make dinner. What a spectacular win for the whole family, right?

We’ve enjoyed cheering on the Lions with the kids and their friends for a few years now:

So when we arrived this year and took a spot near some other parents, the first thing the boys did was ask for money to get something to eat. Perfectly normal.

They came back with their food and drinks, handing us the change. Like they have always done.

And then Alex proclaimed “We’re gonna go sit with our friends. See ya later!”

Which pretty much made me feel like:

Um. Yeah. Wait. What?

Um. Yeah. Wait. What?

But what I actually said was:

Yep. My tone was all shiny and sparkly. Sort of.

Yep. My tone was all shiny and sparkly. Sort of.

Even though, I really felt like this:

What? I'm not cool enough for you to sit with now?

You don’t want to sit with us? Is it because I’m making this face?

And off they went. Not like normal. Not like they’ve always done.

And sitting under the Friday Night Lights, I looked at my husband and said to him, “guess we’re officially no longer cool to be seen with.”

The Friday Night Lights may seem bright...but they feel a bit dimmer now

The Friday Night Lights may seem bright…but they feel a bit dimmer now

But perhaps in letting them go without making too much of it at the time, we are much cooler than we — and especially our boys — even realize.


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Worth the Weight

This is our fifth year of organized football. The first year our oldest son Alex showed up to play, the head coach’s eyeballs nearly popped out of his head. That’s because Alex is and always has been one of the biggest kids his age.

Since he started playing, he’s been a red-striper, which means that he weighs too much to carry the ball or be on the field for kick offs. Kids who can’t carry the ball are identified by a red and white stripe on their helmet. Each team also has an absolute maximum weight, and if you are over that at the start of the season, you miss the first game of the season and can try weighing in two weeks later. Or you need to move up to the next age group.

My favorite blue-eyed red striper

My favorite blue-eyed red striper in 2009

Alex and his younger brother play in the same age group, Alex on the D1 (competitive “varsity” team), and his brother on the D2 (instructional “JV” team). This year, Alex weighed about 12 pounds over the maximum weight for his age group and we knew he would have to drop the pounds to stay with his friends. Weigh-ins were August 16 and once baseball finished in mid-July, we started focusing on getting him down to weight.

We knew that football practice would help with weight loss. Practices start the last week of July and are Mondays – Thursdays from 6pm – 8pm, with occasional Saturdays. Hot, humid evenings would ensure that the weight would roll off, given how much he would be sweating in all that gear.

Except that Mother Nature has blessed us with a very mild, low humidity summer. The one year we need to get Alex to drop weight, and the old gal gives us mild temperatures and almost negligible humidity. Bitch.

Alex and another player who needed to drop a few pounds to make weight began running at the end of practice. While that helped some, with less than 1 week until weigh ins, Alex still had about 5 pounds to lose.

Thus began the week of torture. A growing, 5′ 4″ 12 year old boy who has to cut his calorie intake and increase his already active lifestyle? So. Not. Fun.

The week kicked off in marvelous style — dinner out with my in-laws. Bread was delivered to the table and Alex immediately reached for a piece.  “Alex, you can’t have any bread,” my husband informed him. Alex responded with a scowl and eye roll. My husband spat back, “hey, it’s not me who has to the lose the weight, so drop the attitude.” Cue a teary-eyed, 12 year-old mess before we’d even placed our orders for entrees.

For breakfasts, he only had a small bowl of oatmeal.

For lunches, he only took a sandwich and applesauce to camp each day.

After practices, he ran extra wind sprints and laps around the field.

For dinners, he only ate an egg sandwich.

After dinners, he and his dad would go to the Y and work out for another hour and a half, with Alex in sweats to help generate more heat/sweat/weight loss.

He only drank water for every meal.

By Thursday of that week, he came home from the Y, laid on the couch next to me and put his head in my lap. “I’m so tired, mom.” I rubbed his sweaty head and reassured him, “it will all be worth it when you make the weight, Alex.”

On the morning of weigh-ins, Alex and his dad got up super early and went to the Y for one last workout. They came back home to pick up our youngest son, and then headed off for the weigh-ins.

I was waiting at home for news. Alex called me on my husband’s phone and yelled into the phone, “I made it, mom!”  He explained that he was the last kid on his team to come out of the room, and his team was anxiously awaiting news. He stuck his arm up in the air in triumph, and his team cheered for him.

We celebrated with a big pancake breakfast at a local diner. Suck it, diet.

The following Saturday, his team played their first game. The team they played against wasn’t nearly as talented. By rule in our league, if a D1 team is ahead by a certain number of points, you need to put in your substitute players.  Alex and the rest of the starters were subbed out so that the backup players and kids from the D2 team who had stayed around could play. The D2 players pretty much played the second half. I think our son Nick (whose team had won their game earlier in the day) ended up with more playing time in the game than Alex.

During the game, I could tell by Alex’s body language that he was not happy about it. All that hard work to qualify to play, only to have another rule of the game prevent him from playing as many minutes as he felt he had worked so hard to earn.

When we got home, we talked a bit about his lack of playing time. He told me he was disappointed, but that he understood the rule. “Yeah, it sucked,” he explained. “But, I know I’ve earned my playing time. I’ll get plenty of time when we play against teams that are closer competitors. It was good that the subs got time today.”

And having him come to that realization on his own was definitely worth the weight.

 

 


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Cuss is My Favorite Part of a Possible Concussion

Last Sunday, my husband had to head to New York for business, returning very late Monday evening. When he’s out of town, my entire working-mom schedule gets turned upside down, especially if my mom is not available to help me get the boys where they need to go.

So I dropped the boys off at camp Monday morning and arrived at work a bit later than my usual start time. That afternoon, I left work early to pick the boys up from camp. I rushed home, got them changed, and shoved half a PB & J sandwich down their throats so they wouldn’t pass out from hunger during football practice. I then spent a delightful summer evening sitting at a dusty football field, getting bitten by mosquitoes, and fighting with the folding chair that had some how gotten tangled up the last time it was used and jammed back into its carrying case.

About halfway through practice I received this text from my husband:

I don't believe 'completely fucked' is the status they use on the board

I don’t believe ‘completely fucked’ is the status they use on the board at the train station

We had a bit of back in forth about his predicament, which was really annoying because I was kicking ass at Words with Friends and didn’t need the distraction:

Stuck in a train station or stuck on a football field? There are no winners in this battle.

Stuck in a train station or stuck on a football field? There are no winners in this battle.

I turned my attention back to Words with Friends. I looked up at one point and noticed my youngest son had been sitting out for a bunch of plays. I texted my husband:

Nick_not_playing_text

Which resulted in this response:

Nick_aggressive

So back to Words with Friends I went. But then one of the other mothers who was at practice remarked, “isn’t that your kid on the sideline doubled over in pain”.  I looked up and sure enough, my youngest son Nick was sitting out and he was doubled over. I walked over to him and asked what happened. He told me that he had knocked helmets with another kid on a tackling drill and had a headache and his stomach hurt.

So to update my husband, I sent this:

Nick_stomach

Which prompted this:

Tackle or block? Is that really the hot issue here?

Tackle or block? Thank goodness my husband is focusing on what’s really important here.

At the end of practice, I texted my husband that things had gotten a little worse:

throw_up_text

I answered his question about the block vs. tackle. I was skeptical about a possible concussion, because we had been down this road before with Nick:

hot_tonight_text

We first arrived at urgent care around 8:35pm. As we checked in, there were parents with a three year old coming out of a treatment room who said to their daughter, “yes, honey, we know you are hungry. We’ve been here since 2 this afternoon.”  I did my own bit of math based on what those parents said. I then applied my simple calculation to our situation. When I realized what our estimated time of departure from urgent care would be, this is pretty much what I did:

freakout scream

What? This is my calm face.

While we were waiting to be called back to be evaluated, two things happened. First, a couple arrived, which prompted this text to my husband:

sliced_finger_text

Shouldn’t people go to the emergency room when blood is involved?

She seemed pretty bad off, as the dish towel she had wrapped around her hand was starting show the blood that was seeping through.  And then  — not even two minutes later — a kid ran in with his dad. Both were out of breath and the kid had a towel wrapped around his finger. His dad tried to sound calm, but barely was able to choke out, “I think he may have severed his finger down to the bone.” 

When I heard that, this was my poker face:

Possible severed  finger -- yeah, you first.

Possible severed finger? Yeah, you first.

My kid might have a concussion, and (fuck my luck) two bleeders just arrived at urgent care? I turned to Nick and said, “blood trumps headache, kiddo. Settle in.”

I texted my husband to provide him an update:

Are you kidding me?

I’ll see your train delay and raise you one possible concussion and two bloody hands.

We finally exited urgent care at just about midnight. Getting up at 5:00am and going to work the next day? Yeah,  fuck that.

A kid that can’t watch TV, play on his iPod, play on his brother’s iPad, play the Xbox, or read for 4 days as part of the Rx for a possible concussion? Yeah, that’s a fucking nightmare.

Follow up visits and tests revealing my son had sustained a hard hit to the head but no concussion? What a fucking relief.

A week and a half later, Nick is back on the field.

A week and a half later, Nick is back on the field.


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Younger Me

In my roaring early 20’s, I dated the lead singer of a band. If you look up dated in the dictionary I happened to be using at the time, it would be defined as:

  1. hanging with a dude who was a total asshat at that point in his life, and
  2. supplementing a lack of financial success for a group of horny guys whose trajectory to musical stardom success obscurity began in the hotbed of the music industry, Anne Arundel County Maryland, and
  3. putting up with other women, and
  4. sticking around because I was swayed by his clever sales pitch “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” 

 

Younger me sometimes makes me want to barf.

I dated the one who thought he looked like Bono. But he so didn't (second from right, cuz I know you still can't tell).

I dated the one who thought he looked like Bono. More like Bono’s less talented, less rich second cousin twice removed. Whose girlfriend paid for everything.

The band wanted a really cool name. Since Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, and U2 were already taken by bands that had an upward and money-making trajectory, someone suggested the name Seize the Day.  “STD for short,” laughed the bass player. All the band members high-fived one another. I said “Way to ‘Carpe Diem’ boys.”   My boyfriend said “Wait..wait! That’s way cooler than Seize the Day. Is that words you just made up or some foreign language?”

Younger me sometimes gives me a migraine.

All the boys in the band did what most 20-year old boys in a band with a bit of local notoriety and young, rabid, horny female fan base would do. They screwed around mercilessly on their girlfriends. The girlfriends would act all indignant, possessive, and bad-ass at clubs when we confronted a groupie who paid our men just a little more attention than we were comfortable with. If only we had been indignant, bad-ass, and less tolerant with the men who were screwing around on us.

Younger me sometimes makes me cringe.

The lead guitar player in the band was quite the Romeo. He had a sticker of Elvis on his guitar and one day at band practice my boyfriend asked him why.  He responded “Do you know how much p*ssy Elvis got?”  Everyone laughed when he said that, including me.

Younger me could have benefited from a spine implant.

While their band did gain local notoriety, they gained little more than that. Like money. They gained very little money after they paid the sound and light guys for their gigs, paid for the gas to get to their gig, and split the money five ways among the band mates. There barely was enough left to pay for a late night nosh at a 24 hour pancake house after the gig, and most of us girlfriends ended up paying for our own meals.

Younger me sometimes gives me indigestion.

I spent a few years fronting the money for buying band equipment, helping pay for band rehearsal space,  and forgiving my boyfriend for yet another “it was only the one time and she doesn’t mean anything to me” excuse. Around the time I decided to go to graduate school and get my Masters Degree, I stopped being a doormat for the lead singer and walked away from all the BS.

Younger me certainly took her time to find her footing, huh?

The bandmates eventually went their separate ways when the rock band fantasy didn’t end up working out. The lead guitar player, bass player, keyboardist, and drummer are all married. So is my ex, the lead singer. In fact, he’s on his third marriage.

Hmm. Younger me may have had a bit more smarts than I give her credit for.

Through Facebook, I’ve reconnected with all the band members. Just last week, it was the Elvis-admiring lead guitar player’s birthday, so I posted this on his Facebook page:

Cleverness is wasted on the

In my memories of the band years I was awkward, not self-assured, and didn’t stand up for myself. But his comment on my post surprised me. It turns out years ago, a gigolo guitar player — whom I was sure barely noticed that I existed — thought I was a smart cookie.

Younger me may have been finding her way, but she was still able to make a good impression along her journey.

 


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Lessons in Striking Out

Youth football - bling it!

Mom spirit wear – bling it!

I’ve had many proud moments as the mom of two young athletes. Among those memories are not:

  • My complete and utter meltdown at Sports Authority when my husband responded (with an unnecessary eye-roll accompaniment) “Because you can’t” to my inquiry “Why the hell can’t they just use their baseball cleats as football cleats if they have not outgrown them?”
  • The stream of cuss words that spewed forth when I screwed up my MOM bling iron-on for my self-made spirit wear
  • Any time I have had to work the concession stand for football, baseball, basketball, or lacrosse
  • The complete and utter meltdown my son Alex had after striking out during a game in the State Championship Tournament. Must be something in the DNA.

His meltdown was most likely precipitated by the false illusion that the $200 bat we bought him during the Beach Blast Tournament his team went to in Myrtle Beach was magical. Perhaps he thought the bat would somehow turn him into Babe Rice, jacking shots over fences at a ridiculous clip.

When the bat was purchased I asked explicitly “This isn’t one of those big barrel things that is not legal in some tournaments. He’ll be able to use it in the upcoming Fourth of July Tournament and the State Tournament, right?”

My husband gave me another one of his eye-rolls as he spat out “Of course he can use it. We know what we’re doing.”  ‘We know what we are doing’ turned out to be code for: ‘I’m assuming he can. But I have no idea. So stop pestering me.’

Editor’s note: It turns out it is a big barrel bat and he was not able to use it in the last two tournaments of the season. So by my estimation, we paid exactly $26.66 per at bat for that damn thing this season, since Alex was only able to use it in the remaining games of the Myrtle Beach Tournament.

When Alex couldn’t use his new bat at the State Tournament, he began trying out other players’ bats. And after an at bat where he struck out — here comes the proud parent stuff — he slammed down the bat, kicked at the dirt, and on his way back to the dugout he ignored a coach who kept repeating “Look at me, Alex.” When he finally did look at his coach, the coach asked Alex if that was his bat. Alex snarled back “no”, and his coach told him “Then you need to apologize to the owner for how you treated it.”  Alex rolled his eyes (must be something in the DNA) and walked away without responding.

His head coach then pulled him away from the bench and tried to calm him down. And Alex began to bark back about how the umpire was awful and stupid. The coach said “you’re done today, Alex”.  But due to the rules of substitutions, the coach’s decision could not be implemented without disadvantaging the team, so Alex ended up staying in the game.

I was barely able to keep my ass connected to the bleacher. I was prepared to take him out … and not in the you’re-gonna-be-sitting-on-the-bench-for-the-rest-of-the-game kinda way. I was ready to rip Alex a new one for his ridiculous, inappropriate, disrespectful, and downright unsportsmanlike behavior.  But I wasn’t fast enough because his dad was already on it before I could even get up.

After the game, it was a very silent 2 hour ride home. That evening after we all had time to calm down Alex — teary-eyed — admitted his behavior was wrong. When my husband asked him why he wasn’t using the bat we paid $200 for last year (the bat that wasn’t illegal for these tournaments), Alex explained “because other kids were getting hits with Brooks’ bat”. My husband responded gently but firmly, “it’s not the bat that produces the hit Alex.” More teary-eyes. This time from Alex and me, as the truth of the words stung.

We told Alex he would need to apologize to both his coaches for his behavior before the games the next morning. When we arrived at the fields, he did just that. He came over to let me know the apologies had been delivered, and gave me a fist bump. I said “good job, kiddo. I’m proud of you because I know that wasn’t easy. New day; better attitude, right?”

He smiled as he walked away toward the dugout, not realizing he was now batting a thousand when it mattered most.

 

Sorry, Matt Wieters. But my heart belongs to this catcher.

Sorry, Matt Wieters. But my heart belongs to this catcher.

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