A Side of Rice

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


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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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All You Need Is Love

One of my former co-workers has two blogs she updates regularly. I’m such a slacker, with only two blogs that I update when something crazy happens in my life, or if I bake a treat.

June 1st, she issued a 30-day writing challenge. Being the non-procrastinating type that I am, I jumped right on the challenge. On July 1.  But at that point, Rita was only on challenge number 26 herself — seems we both have a little procrastinator in us.

The theme for July 1 is LOVE. So here’s what the theme inspired me to write about…

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

I only thought about the past week using the words ‘baseball’, ‘vacation’, and ‘work’. But I was decidedly wrong about that. My week was about love.

First it was the love of baseball. My oldest son Alex’s baseball team has been fundraising and preparing for the ultimate experience with a week-long tournament in Myrtle Beach at The Ripken Experience. The majority of this team has been together for 2 years — most have been playing together for more than 4 years. To hear the boys tell it, they were “getting to go on vacation with all of their best friends”.

The boys did well in the tournament, with a record of 3-2 in pool play. They made it to the championship bracket, but lost in an early game to a taller, stronger, and year-round playing team from Georgia.  Disappointed at being out of the championship round early didn’t deter them from life’s joy. They spent the rest of the day at a water park, enjoying a different kind of pool play with one another.  And three of the nights we were there, the team and their families gathered for group meals. We even had a surprise birthday celebration for of one of the team moms.

How could you not help but love these kids and families who are a great bunch of people?

Thank goodness it's not my kid with the sad face.

The 2014 12U GVAA Walkersville Lions.

I ended up leaving Myrtle Beach before the championship round because I had a work conference I needed to attend in San Francisco. The Friday we were in San Francisco, our colleagues back home were participating in a community volunteer day.  A co-worker and I decided that we would participate on the west coast by volunteering to feed the homeless and hungry. The organization is Glide — a radically inclusive, just and loving community mobilized to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization. They feed 700 people for the afternoon meal. Volunteers help serve meals, take tickets, and clean tables.

Because Glide must have heard about my lack of prowess in the cooking department, I was in charge of handing out napkins and silverware:

I think I'll use this as my entry in Playboy's next "hottest moms" contest.

Hairnet, apron, and gloves. I think I’ll use this as my entry in Playboy’s next “hottest moms” contest.

What I found humbling was that the individuals were so diverse. Some “looked” homeless. Some didn’t look homeless at all. Some talked to an imaginary friend as they went through the line. Some came through the  line multiple times, hanging their head in shame. Some brought their dogs and shared the meatloaf and rice with their best friend. One lady started a fight because she wanted to eat at a table by herself. The staff had to calm her down, and then they tried to make the volunteers feel better by saying it was no big deal. “You’re right,” I commented. “The Rice boys behave far worse than any of these folks.”

But almost every one of the people who walked through the door said “Thank you.”  Or “God bless.”  One guy even said “Hello, gorgeous.”  Hmmm…maybe I should send him my picture and enter his “hottest mom” contest.

What I felt after an exhausting and fast-paced two hours was a great deal of appreciation from both those served and the staff at Glide. It took no more than a smile, a hello, and handing someone a napkin with a fork or spoon to make them feel good.  How could I not love the feeling of warmth that my small kindness gave these people who have so little?

That weekend we were in San Francisco was also when the Gay Pride parade was going to take place. As I walked back from Macy’s on Sunday (having just had my own little love fest with the Michael Kors purse department), I walked past a guy with a t-shirt that very simply said Love is Love. And I saw these flags hanging outside the Hotel Nikko:

#PRIDE

#PRIDE

How awesome that a corporation uses the pride flag to let a group of individuals who have struggled for acceptance know that they are indeed loved?

So in the end, my week was not nearly as much about a vacation, a baseball tournament, or a work trip. It was about the love in my life, and why I should be more aware of it around me every day.


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In the Weeds

In April of this year, Maryland Governor Martin (Puff Daddy) O’Malley signed a bill decriminalizing marijuana. There’s been continued talk of legalization.

While the hippy hoarde that bathes in patchouli and follows Phish around all summer is busy rejoicing, there is an even more interested contingent. The marijuana entrepreneur.

If the experience in Denver has been any indication, legalizing pot will bring new (taxable!) revenue to the city and help it transform:

So in light of the fact that kids’ baseball gloves, lacrosse sticks, football pads, and basketball shoes are not free and require replacement every damn season, I’ve been looking for a way to increase our income a bit. And I’m not interested in any hair-brained ‘decrease your spending’ options that involve giving up the essentials like my mani/pedis, the housekeeper, and bi-weekly therapeutic massages. Or cutting back on eating out. Or not purchasing all the bling iron-on I need to make my spirit wear, once I purchase all the damn baseball gloves, lacrosse sticks, football pads, and basketball shoes:

Youth football - bling it!

Youth football – bling it!

This whole decriminalizing marijuana thing has me intrigued. So, I’m cautiously testing out my own weed production. I’ve been able to grow this in my flower boxes on the deck:

Perhaps these "flowers" will 'bud' soon. See what I did there?

Perhaps these “flowers” will ‘bud’ soon. See what I did there?

And don’t you love how well this baby is growing, though it really doesn’t look like most of the marijuana pictures I seen. Perhaps this is a rare variety and it will make me twice the money:

Off to a good start. Only 24,000 miles to go until it hits the clouds.

Jack! I found your bean stalk.

And this new patch by the front door:

They look like pot plants right?

I don’t even remember planting seeds for this – what a total profit product!

Which I’ve cleverly hidden behind the bushes, that are also camouflaging a  mature weed crop.

It looks like more weed than bush. #TeenBoyProblems

It looks like more weed than bush.
#TeenBoyProblems

Unfortunately, my husband tells me this isn’t the kind of ‘weed’ that people will pay money to smoke. It’s more like the kind of weed we pay money to get rid of.  And as homeowners, should be quite embarrassed by.

And that really killed my entrepreneurial buzz.

 


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Why I’m Not the Team Mom

There are sports moms who are way more organized than I am. Because let’s face it, there’s a reason we have had to purchase about 7 different cups in this house. And we only two kids who wear them.

As we are getting ready to head to a Memorial Day Weekend Tournament at The Ripken Experience in Aberdeen, MD, I started thinking about what I was going to need to pack. And I knew … I just knew … some über-organized bitch mom had created the ultimate packing list for a weekend baseball tournament.

So I searched and found this little gem on the internet. Which pretty much seems perfect for that annoying broad woman who agrees to be the team mom, with a whole season to tell us slack asses what to do help the rest of us stay tuned in to all the amazing team activities throughout the season.

Concession duty. Oh hell, no. Copyright © 2014 Sports Mom Survival Guide

Concession duty? Oh hell, no.
Copyright © 2014 Sports Mom Survival Guide

The only thing this list tells me is that no way in hell would I ever volunteer to be the team mom.

So, for the moms like me who believe fun is not spelled o-r-g-a-n-i-z-e-d (or s-o-b-e-r), I’ve created a check list for the ultimate baseball tournament weekend.

Did I miss anything? Vodka? Gin? Rum?

Did I miss anything? Vodka? Gin? Rum?

Let the games begin.


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The Poseidon Adventure

School projects have a special place in hell, whether they originate in science, social studies, math, or history class. What the fuck ever class.  ALL. OF. THEM. SUCK.

Because…pretty much…here’s what we always learn when it comes to these damn things:

Truth. Image from Reddit.

Truth.
Image from Reddit.

My son Alex’s recent social studies project was no different than the science project he did earlier this year.  That one was an epic fail as a science experiment, but highly successful at getting his dad to cuss pretty much through the entire thing. But this time, we didn’t have the same amount of notice as we did for the science fair.

I had seen one of the other baseball team moms post this amazing creation on Facebook on a Saturday, with this comment “Jacob worked very hard this morning on his Ancient Greek House for his school project. He did an awesome job!”:

My son hasn't started making anything like that...

My son hadn’t started making anything like that…

So that afternoon at our baseball double header, I asked his mom what class it was for. She said all the kids in all the social studies classes were doing some sort of project.  I called my son over between innings and asked “is your social studies project done yet?”   His response was “Yes. I wrote my report.”

I prodded further “How ’bout the project part of it?”   “Um…yeah, I’m going to ask dad to help me with it Sunday night. It’s not due until Tuesday morning.”

So you can pretty much understand why I felt like this:

Only madder. And with more cuss words. Image from: http://thesuperzilch.wordpress.com/

Only madder. And with more cuss words.
Image from: http://thesuperzilch.wordpress.com/

So I put on a brave face:

Trying to smile through clenched teeth. Never works. Image © Copyright 2003 - 2014, SheKnows, LLC.

Trying to smile through clenched teeth. Never works.

I reminded him that his dad (who normally is in charge of this school project shit) was leaving on a business trip Sunday afternoon. I also brought to his attention that he had a double header of baseball Sunday afternoon, so just when the fuck did he think this was going to get done?

Oh,” was his immediate reply. Followed closely by “I gotta go, it’s my turn to bat.

So after the game, the family grudgingly made the trip to Joann’s to buy modeling clay. That’s because my son revealed that he had agreed to do sculptures of Poseidon and Zeus — which might have well been the latest DisneyXD show as far as I was concerned. I’ve never been really well-versed in anything Greek, unless pouring copious amounts of Zima down my throat in college counts. Zima – sounds Greek, right?

To help out my son, I went to the internet and found these inspiration pictures of the Greek gods that he could base his models on:

But let’s face it. This is more like what I wanted to see:

Shazam! Image ©2013-2014 Terachrome

Shazam-olopolus!
Image ©2013-2014 Terachrome

Alex was totally inspired by the photos and got right to work on Saturday evening, making his sculptures. He was thrilled to turn off the Xbox and focus his creative energy on something other than spending Saturday evening in a video game induced haze.

Repeat after mom: "I will not wait until the last minute to do my school project.  I will not wait until the last minute to do my school project. I will not wait until the last minute to do my school project. I will not wait until the last minute to do my school project. Again."

Repeat after mom: “I will not wait until the last minute to do my school project. Again.”

It took him a solid three hours of intense work. But this was the final product:

Two old buff clay dudes. Love the pecs.

Two old buff clay dudes. Love the chiseled pecs and abs.

He ended up getting 50 out of 50 points for the project.

συγχαρητήρια (congratulations in Greek), Alex. Perhaps I should celebrate with a few Zimas.


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Our Odyssey Has Ended

Nearly 13 years ago, my husband and myself — 6 months pregnant at the time — strolled into the local Honda dealer. We were ready to upgrade his (piece of shit) Grand Am to the more family-friendly Honda Odyssey minivan.

At the time, the revamped Honda entry in the minivan category was all the rage. Unfortunately all the rage translated into “no deals, suckas, cuz we can’t keep these bitches in stock”.  So pretty much full price later, we walked away with the only model they had on the lot that was not already claimed.

The minivan was really good to us. It has hauled around kids, strollers, dogs, groceries, suitcases, sports equipment, trash, lawn chairs, coolers, book bags, drunk wives, and a surprising number of well-past-the-expiration-date packs of peanut butter crackers.

A few weeks ago, I noticed this as we exited Target and thought to myself, perhaps this is a sign:

Odyssey label losing it's grip (but aren't my bright yellow tennis shoes in the reflection fab?)

The Odyssey label is losing it’s grip (but aren’t my bright yellow tennis shoes in the reflection fab?)

You don’t think of a car as holding amazing memories. Unless you are a 17 year old whose second-hand Camero got him a glimpse of  his 16 year old girlfriend’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light“, one boozy Summer night.

But our mini-van helped us make a bunch of memories. I won’t share the sappy ones … like when we brought our oldest son Alex home from the hospital after he was born. Or when his younger brother Nick made his appearance less than 15 months after his older brother, and we had two bundles of joy (and double the baby crap) to cart around. Or the journey we made back from the cemetery in horrendous traffic on December 23, after my mother-in-law’s funeral, when I drove as my husband passed out in the back after a week-long (very little sleep) vigil at his mom’s bedside after she was diagnosed with and suddenly died from cancer.

Or the less sappy memories of trips to baseball, football, and lacrosse fields with all that damn gear, coolers, lawn chairs, and other crap you have to haul around. And people wonder why basketball (you only need shoes and a ball, people) is so appealing.

Smells like pre-teen spirit.

Smells like pre-teen spirit.

Nope. More like these memories:

  • Our first trip to Do I Hear Banjo Music? Charleston, WV to visit my husband’s father and his wife for Thanksgiving.
  • The time we drove back from my parents house and the wheel almost came off the car. Turns out the mechanic who had recently put on new tires had forgotten to tighten the lug nuts completely. I would have loved a chance to tighten his lug nuts as a thank you for that terrifying experience. And not tighten his lug nuts in the good way, if you know what I mean.
  • The wacky conversation I had with my sons and husband in the minivan one afternoon.

 

So, thanks for the memories. And the 180,000+ miles, dear Odyssey.

180,873 miles to be exact

180,873 miles to be exact

I hope our new car Pilots us in the same fun, amazing, and delightful direction.

 


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The Distance from Clean to Dirty

Last Thursday, I headed right from work to my kids’ lacrosse practice  baseball practice  strength training what the fuck ever sports thing I needed to be at.

The following day, I was traveling to Boston for a conference to give a presentation. Since I didn’t have time to do it myself on the way home from work, I had asked my husband to pick up the dry cleaning, so I would have some fancy duds to take with me. Because this is what happens when he is in charge of doing the laundry:

Clean? Dirty? Who the hell knows.

Clean? Dirty? Who the hell knows.

He begrudgingly agreed to pick up the dry cleaning. But not without letting me know (repeatedly) how much it was a pain in the ass for him to break away from his work-at-home job and how it was going to cut into his lunch hour. (Editor’s note: This from a guy who sets his iPhone alarm to wake him up five minutes before our oldest needs to leave for the bus to yell from our bed “Alex, time to leave for the bus!”, who repeats this when it’s time for the youngest to catch the bus, and who takes conference calls from the bed if they occur before 10:00am. By 10:00am, I’ve been up for over 4 hours and at my job actually working for over 2 hours. Just sayin’.)

I mean … what was I thinking asking him to go to the dry cleaner, when that was going to screw up his afternoon nap  attempts to get past level 307 on Candy Crush all the intense work he’d be trying to schedule into his day? Cuz the dry cleaner is so far out of his way. All the way across the street from our development. Hell, it might as well be the same distance as from our washer to our dryer.

And you’ve seen how that can turn out.

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