A Side of Rice

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


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Two Weeks Notice

It hit me this morning. Hard. In just two weeks (and technically, very delayed from the original date), we will take our oldest son Alex to Ithaca College for his second semester of Freshman year, but only his first semester on campus.

Ithaca went entirely virtual for the Fall of 2020. Can you tell how awesome Alex thought virtual learning and living at home for his first semester as a Freshman was?

That’s probably because he was seeing lots of his high school friends post selfies on social media as they were moving into their college dorms. So he sent me this selfie of his virtual dorm room. Or, as I like to call it, the room in our house that always has clothes on the floor.

Like everyone with school-aged kids, we’ve dealt with the challenges of virtual learning. Alex’s younger brother Nick is a senior in high school this year, but he seems much more happy about the virtual learning situation.

However, that smile may only be hiding the fact that he thinks we don’t know he has been turning in assignments late or (#SoBlessed) doesn’t do them at all. Look, son, September through November is a little early to have “Senior-itis.”

At one point, I advertised that we were willing to sell the naming rights to the dining room, to help fund the boys’ college accounts. I just don’t understand why my ad didn’t generate a single inquiry, because I included a photo: Virtual study hall. Previously called dining room. Willing to sell sponsorship renaming rights to any company. Serious inquiries only.

Maybe I should have clarified that the humans were included. Or, for the right price, we wouldn’t include them.

Our boys eventually found virtual learning to be a necessary evil an unfortunate situation not something mom purposely orchestrated to make them miserable, so just get over it already.

In November, since the teenagers in the house were still schooling virtually, we decided a change of scenery was in order, and we spent a week in Myrtle Beach. The boys attended school online in the mornings and early afternoons.

Ithaca College, Myrtle Beach satellite campus

Their dad and I didn’t work, went for walks, and relaxed. We socially distanced ourselves and spent time enjoying the very sparsely populated beach.

In November, we also received news that the students were going to return to campus for the Spring semester at Ithaca.

And when we received confirmation of his move-in day in January, Alex tried hard not to express any excitement or enthusiasm.

This is my happy face, mom.

We haven’t had the heart to let our dog Mocha know that Alex’s departure is imminent. We’re not exactly sure how she is going to react to the fact that once he is on campus, we can’t visit, and he can’t come home until the semester is over. She’s likely to be devastated — Alex’s lap is her favorite.

Just like everything else about 2020 — the year that knocked us upside down, sideways, and backward — there will be nothing “normal” about this mom getting to take her oldest son to college for his Freshman year. We have to drop him off, not help with moving any of his things in, and leave immediately once everything is offloaded. Thanks, ‘Rona.

Nor will there be anything as cool as this story and video of one of his football teammates being dropped off last year.

I’m hoping the coolest thing about the drop off is me. Because while I’m thrilled and excited for him to start the next chapter of his life, I feel like I’m not nearly cool enough to keep my heart from melting. Even though I’ve had 18 years, 10 months, and 10 days to get used to the idea.

It just feels like I’ve only had two weeks.


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I’ve Got An Announcement to Make

There are a number of things I never would have thought I’d hear myself mutter in 2020. Those include, but are certainly not limited to:

What the fuck is a murder hornet?”

Oh, please. You know you’d vote for murder hornets.

“I need more fabric paint to decorate/personalize my face mask and headband.”

Glitter gold and royal blue fabric paint. But nothin’ for those grey roots starting to peek through.

“Look, I need the steps. Let’s go inside and pick up the food, instead of being so lazy and doing curbside delivery.”

Image courtesy of SafetySign.com. Because who says there isn’t money to be made in a pandemic (see also masks, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper)

“I haven’t filled up my car with gas in 2 months and I still have a full tank. And nowhere to fucking go.”

Image from the Chicago Tribune, courtesy of Paul Sancya/AP

“Well, we’ve watched everything else. So, sure, we can watch John Tucker Must Die – it’s such a masterpiece of American cinema.”

If you ask me, we should watch Bridget Jones’ Diary again.

“Oh shit. I never ordered your cap and gown. I wonder if we could borrow Noah Ferguson’s?”

Thank you to the Ferguson family for the loaner cap and gown, and the awesome packaging you put it in!

“What in the ever-loving pandemic hell do you mean you don’t expect a delivery of toilet paper for another week?”

“I really wish there were more cool memes about whatever the hell this COVID-19 thing is, so that I could share them on social media.”

And my personal favorite? “Hey genius…get dressed before you come downstairs. I’m really not interested in having all my colleagues see you walk behind me again in just your boxer briefs.”

Thank goodness no one was recording our Zoom meeting

The genius I’m referring to is my oldest son Alex. He made the guest appearance in the background of a work Zoom meeting, with about 15 of my colleagues watching.

But, I’m giving him a bit of a break because he’s a Class of 2020 Senior. And his final few months of high school have gone nothing like we ever anticipated:

  • There was no Spring Track & Field season, where he would have competed in the throwing events with his football buddies Will and Ben
  • There was no Prom
  • There was no Senior skip day
  • There was no Senior prank
  • There will be no Big 33 game for him to play in, with the other kids from Maryland who made the team.
  • There will be no Senior Week (now called SWeek) at the beach
  • There will be no graduation ceremony with his entire class
  • There will be no ‘Safe and Sound’ all night party at Adventure Park

And there was no formal, fancy, grand, scrolly-font-on-linen-paper graduation announcement to send out to family and friends, touting the fact that he had achieved this milestone.

Well, it’s not that an announcement like that wasn’t offered. It was offered, but we had no idea at the time if the scheduled June 3 graduation ceremony was going to take place at all. But that didn’t stop me from coming up with an idea for something special, to let everyone know just how special we think Alex is.

I had my amazingly talented designer friend Rebecca create a non-traditional card as an announcement. So, without further ado…

I have an announcement I’d like to make:

Cover of card

Inside of card

Back of card

A final accolade came in after the announcement was printed. Because of Alex’s accomplishments and awards for football in his Senior season, he is being inducted into the Walkersville High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Globally, things we are familiar and comfortable with have changed. And for our family, things we are familiar and comfortable with will be changing when our oldest heads off to college this Fall.

Change and uncertainty be damned. The Rice family will be over here putting together something good. Maybe even something great. Please join us.

Congrats to all those in the Class of 2020!


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Top 8 Tips for Being a Volunteer Social Media Account Manager

A couple of years ago, I wrote about why I would never be put in charge of the Community sign board. The real reason, frankly, was that there were not enough symbols in the letter box for all the cuss words I would want to use.

SignBoardLetters

Yeah, I’m gonna need a lot more of these symbols

Flash-forward to a few years later, when my oldest son entered high school and I joined the Athletic Boosters. There was a volunteer opportunity to up our social media cred with a more robust Facebook page and a new Twitter account.

Easy peasy. I just post game results from the paper, shout outs to alumni, and event announcements, right?

Wrong

Here’s what I’ve learned so far when it comes to being the volunteer social media manager.

Tip #1: Be careful about posting more than one image in your twitter feed

One of the Booster accounts for a county rival posted two photos on twitter that caused an awkward appearing ‘headline.’ The red oval is where the two photos ‘combined’ in the Twitter feed, resulting in overlaps of the actual headlines, and leading to the unfortunate looking “Urbana Girls Grab Oakdale Boys” ‘headline.’

Headline merge

Tip #2: Parents will never see the posts about their own kids, so get ready for the blow back

No matter how many times you mention a sport, there will be someone whose kid is on the team and didn’t see the post. My remedy for this? I go back to every instance of me posting about that sport and tag that parent in the comments. Enjoy your ridiculous uptick in Facebook notifications, friend.

Tip #3: Tag parents on Facebook posts

Actual Facebook messenger mail I received: “I see you tagged <name of parent> when you posted about <student athlete’s> name in the paper. You didn’t tag me when <my precious angel> was named in the paper. How can you remedy that?”

I thought of replying with: “Oh my word! I had no idea <your precious angel> was your child, since:  a) the school has over 1,000 students, b) I don’t know every damn kid in the school, and 3) I don’t know your family or kid at all. Perhaps if you’d join the Boosters for the mere $25 a year membership fee, it would jog my memory when it comes to tagging your ass in every post for <my precious angel>.

Instead, I responded with: Thanks for letting me know. We’re always looking for new members and volunteers – hope to see you at a Boosters Meeting in the future!

Tip #4: Tag students on Twitter posts

They love to see themselves tagged and will “like” and “retweet”. A lot. So will their friends when they see it.

Just know that you will probably have to wade through a whole bunch of …

  • @hotbod69
  • @bootygirl4U
  • @BIGlaxstick
  • @team_balls_out

…nonsense twitter handles to find some of these athletes. Hey kids – do yourself a favor and set up a handle that reads more like someone trying to impress admissions officers at colleges, and less like you are trying to impress your potential Tinder dating pool. Except for you, Jacob Wetzel. I love your handle: @wetzhispants

Tip #5: If you are posting daily athletic contest schedules, be ready for Mother Nature to %*@! with you

I hate snow and rain, which has impacted every sport so far this year, multiple times this year. Even the indoor sports. When school is cancelled due to weather, so are all after school activities. Then they get rescheduled. Over and over.  So, be ready if Mother Nature is having a bad day/week/month/season. You’ll get carpal tunnel keeping up with all the changes.

Tip #6: You are not in charge of the @Wendys or @UMBCAthletics accounts.

While it would be a life goal of mine to be the person in charge of either of these accounts (filled with humor and snark – and getting paid for it!) I am currently NOT in charge of an account like this:

UMBCWendys

I really only got snarky/funny twice. Once, when a cross-town rival taunted our football team at a game this past Fall. We had graduated amazing groups of senior football players in 2017 and 2018, including Jacob Wetzel – the 2016 County Defensive Player of the Year, member of the 2016 State Championship team, member of the 2017 Conference Champion team, and 2017 County Offensive Player of the Year, who is now at Old Dominion University. The student section from the other team brought a sign, and I snapped a photo and tweeted about it:

Wetzhispants

I give Jacob a pass on his Twitter handle; it makes me laugh every time I have used it

And the second time, when our girls soccer team was a State finalist, and a local business wished them well.

RoysStates

I know Wendy’s knows what’s up also, but there isn’t a Wendy’s in our community.

Tip #7: If a sports emoji is missing; get creative. Literally.

We are the blue and gold Lions. Every social media post for our accounts concludes with 💙🦁💛 and then the emoji for that sport. 

For the first year, there was no softball emoji, so I used a blue diamond, for softball diamond: 💙🦁💛🔷. For lacrosse, I used the net: 💙🦁💛🥅 .  I am totally geeked out that I can now use the actual emojis:

softball lax stick

 

 

We have a swim/dive team and I made a request for a springboard/platform dive emoji from Unicode. Basically, Unicode told me I have to create an image to submit for consideration.

Since I’m not a graphic designer, here’s my submission, Unicode: 🖕   How’s that for creative?

Tip #8: This is a volunteer gig, but one that matters to your community.

It’s tough, sometimes, to take the flack, to listen to the complainers, to always be asked for more of our time and energy.  However, I keep this in mind for all my volunteer work in the community:

Who was watching

💙🦁💛


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In 2019, I Resolve to Have More Resolve

As a new year approaches, I reflect on everything I’ve accomplished in 2018. So far, the list includes:

  • Baked over 500 cookies during the Christmas holiday season
  • Began writing entries on my blog again
  • Found no redeeming qualities of — or contributions to mankind from — any member of the Kardashian family
  • Binge watched all the episodes of The Great British Baking Show
  • Didn’t get arrested
  • Watched my oldest son play his last baseball game after 10 years participating in the sport, without becoming too much of a blubbering, unhinged mess
  • Watched my youngest son catch the same pay-it-forward bug as I have, through his high school lacrosse team’s community service efforts, without bragging too much about it
  • Participated in the Terrible Thanks for Asking podcast #TerribleWritingClub Challenge
  • Not losing my shit when I was told how much adding a 16 year old boy driver to our car insurance policy would cost
  • Bought a new car, then suffered severe buyer’s remorse as I realized the monthly payment means we have to curtail our habit of dining out at least 3…well, maybe 4…ok, so more like at least 5 times a week

So what are my resolutions for 2019? Well, the list is simple:

  • Bake cookies and goodies as much as I can
  • Write in my blog as much as I can
  • Ignore the Kardashians as much as I can
  • Binge watch shows I like as much as I can
  • Avoid behaviors that could lead to an arrest as much as I can
  • Get to my oldest son’s new Spring sport — high school Track & Field competitions — as much as I can
  • Support my youngest son’s community service efforts with his lacrosse team as much as I can
  • Listen to more Podcasts and participate in more listener activities as much as I can
  • Not freaking out about our insurance premiums — especially when I add the second teen boy driver to the policy in late 2019 — as much as I can
  • Not suffer buyer’s remorse and make dinner at home as much as I can

Finally, I will not beat myself up for not making dinner at home as much as I can. Because I know how much resolve I have when it comes to that.

Happy-New-Year-GIF.gif

 


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WWTTMD (What Would This Team Mom Do)

I have never had the chore  drudgery  onus  privilege of being a team mom for any of the sports my boys have played. The list of sports since 2008 includes soccer (briefly), baseball (until this year), football and basketball (still playing both), and lacrosse (since 2014). Next Spring, we start track & field.

I have had 40 seasons (spring-summer-fall-winter) over 10 years to offer my services as team mom.  I have not volunteered even one time to actually be the team mom. However, positions I have held include:

  • team photographer
  • team fundraising organizer
  • team baker
  • team cheerleader and spirit wearer
  • team face painter (my own and others)
  • team snack maker
  • team dinner server

Of course, the position I am always actively involved in and exercise the most is team eye roller, when I hear parents  snivel  whine  bitch  offer criticism about anything team related, including (but certainly not limited to):

  • more playing time for their kid
  • location of events
  • referees
  • our coach’s play calling
  • the other team’s rudeness (coaches, players, fans)
  • why we can’t have names on uniforms
  • having to work the concession stand
  • team dinner sign ups
  • team pictures process

So, if you’d like to know what I would do as team mom (and why I will never actually be team mom), here’s the list:

Your complaint: More playing time for your kid

If I were team mom, I would tell you there are:

PlayingTime

But I don’t have time to go over all 12 tips because I have other parents who have the same  annoying damn question. So, in the interest of maximizing my time, here are all 12 tips synthesized into 12 easy words:  Not one of the kids on this team is going pro. Deal.

Your complaint: The Location of Events

If I were team mom, I would tell you that unless you want to double the time you are voluntold to spend in the concession stand, it is sweet blessed relief to travel to another team’s field so you can give that knowing look to the parents in that concession stand when you order the luke-warm diet soda and foil wrapped, smashed hotdog.

Your complaint: Referees

If I were team mom, I would tell you that we don’t have the money to fund the lasik surgery they all clearly need. And that I have no interest in heading up the fundraiser it would take to pay for it.

Lasik

(C) John McPherson/Distributed by Universal Uclick via cartoonstock.com

Your complaint: Our coach’s play calling

If I were team mom, I would tell you to volunteer your weekends and weeknights for practices and game days. This would also include listening to <insert number of kids on team here> parents tell you as a volunteer coach exactly what you are doing wrong and how to correct it. And please listen to all of these experts and then not tell them to f*ck off.

ParentCoach

Your complaint: The other team’s rudeness (players, coaches, fans)

If I were team mom, I would tell you that unless anyone from the other side (player, coach and/or fan) looks like this, just shut up and cheer your kid and our team on.

San Diego Chargers v Oakland Raiders

Your complaint: Why we can’t have names on uniforms

If I were team mom, I would pull out this sign and shove it in your face. Plus it costs money to personalize jerseys, so I will just ask you to cut a check for every player’s jersey if that shit so important to you.

 

Jersey

Your complaint: Having to work the concession stand

If I were team mom, I would tell you the money we make from concession sales helps to fund things for the sport … like parents who insist that every player get a personalized jersey every year. So, shut up and make the sno-cones.

Calm SnoCones

Your complaint: Team dinner sign ups

If I were team mom, I would bark back at you that I’m the one who has to nag the shit out of people to sign up for the 18 slots available, when there are 50+ kids on the team. Oh yeah, and it’s the same parents who sign up every week. The remaining 30+ wait until all the slots are full and will then fight over who gets to bring a package of napkins – which isn’t even on the list.

Drinkit

Your complaint: Team picture process

If I were team mom, I would remind you that Ansel Adams has no kids on the team, so Victor O’Neill (who doesn’t have any kids on the team either) and his Studio flunky assigned to this team on this day are the people in charge.  Just to be clear, there are also two important elements that I don’t control. They are 1)  that your kid joined the team late and missed picture day, and/or 2) whether or not you would have preferred the jersey with their name on it for the picture.

danger

So, now that I’ve covered the basics of team momming, let me know if you have any questions.

dumblooks


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Maybe, the First Cut Isn’t the Deepest

On Thursday, July 12, my son Alex had a baseball game at Heritage Farm Park in Walkersville, MD. For most people that know us, this is not in any way unusual. He’s been playing baseball for 10 Springs/Summers, starting with Tball back in 2009.

heritagefarm_park

Our home field — regardless of the age level — has always been one in Heritage Farm Park. Well, with the exception of the high school team, which plays at a field on the high school property.

I have spent countless hours in Heritage Farm Park on a variety of ball fields, freezing my ass off in unseasonalby cold and rainy Springs, and questioning the power of my own deodorant in the blisteringly hot and humid heat of Summer.

And then, of course, there is concession stand duty, which all baseball moms know as the 10th circle of hell. If Dante had run that manuscript by his wife first, his list of circles would have been completed properly.

Calm SnoCones

2017 was Alex’s freshman year in high school. He had tried out for and made the JV team. But this Spring, he tried out for and was cut from the baseball team.

Wait…what?  For the first time in 10 years, Alex was cut from a team and would not be  playing baseball in the Spring. And neither Alex nor his parents were prepared for that because he’d made every travel team and All Star team that required tryouts since 2010.

Well, there was the exception of a regional elite team in 2015. We hadn’t expected him to make that team, but thought it would be a good idea for him to try out. The extra exercise in the days between baseball and football seasons would serve him well. And heaven freakin’ forbid there be a full week where he didn’t need to wear cleats for some reason.

It’s not like 2015 was a washout — though he didn’t make the elite team, he played rec/travel baseball with his regular team that Spring and Summer.

This Summer, he tried out for an American Legion team. He made the team, but it was a regional team, with fewer of the teammates he’d grown up with and a new coaching staff. And because he’d missed Spring with the high school team, he struggled with his skills.

After this season’s experience with baseball, Alex made the decision that football is his priority sport. At 6′ 2″ and over 250 pounds (and only 3/4 of the way through puberty, according to his pediatrician), he’s built for football. He’ll be the starting center on the varsity football team this Fall, when he begins his junior year in high school.

Alex has also decided he won’t be trying out for high school baseball next Spring. Instead, he’ll be doing the Field part of Track and Field with some of his football lineman buddies. And in a fantastic — though bittersweet — twist, his Track and Field coach will be the wife of one of his former baseball (and basketball) coaches, who passed away suddenly last year.

Steve and Alex 1

Alex and Coach Steve at The Ripken Experience in Aberdeen. RIP Steve ❤️

Steve and Alex 2

Steve coaching Alex at first base. RIP Steve ❤️

On Thursday, as I drove through the park on my way to watch Alex’s game, I realized this was the last baseball game of the season at Heritage Farm Park. His last baseball game at Heritage Farm Park. Ever. The realization of this choked me up a bit, the way it did when he walked off the field after his last game with the GVAA Junior Lions football team in 2015, since he would be moving on to high school the following Fall.

IMG_4523

October 10, 2015: Alex (#68) leaves the football field at Heritage Farm Park for the last time of his GVAA Junior Lion football career, though the team would go on to the playoffs at other locations. Walking with him are his dad and his younger brother Nick, who missed most of the season with a broken collar bone, courtesy of some backyard football shenanigans with his brother Alex.                                                                                                                                                                                      I’m pretty sure I boo hoo’d as I took this photo.

Field #5 where he currently plays baseball is the last field on the loop that you drive through in Heritage Farm Park. This night, I stopped at every field and took a picture, which stirred a number of memories…

2009: Tball

Alex in Tball

Alex as a Tball Pirate – 8 years old.

Tball Field

Tball field in 2018: fences in front of the benches, behind home plate, and to outline the outfield have been added since Alex played – compared to the picture above. From this vantage point, you can see three other baseball fields, of the six total baseball fields in the park. There are also 2 softball fields, multiple soccer fields, a frisbee gold course, a par-3 golf course, a football/lacrosse field, multiple football practice fields, two playground and picnic areas and a variety of walking paths. Plus a community garden and mulch pile for yard waste.

 

2010: Machine pitch

Machine pitch 2010

The 2010 GVAA Wildcats All Star Team – Alex is in the second row, far left. They once played in a tournament as the lowest seed on the championship day. They battled through 4 games that day in 100+ degree heat to win the tournament.

Machine and kid pitch field

2018: The machine pitch field, which can also be used for kid pitch. On this evening, the machine pitch All Star team was practicing.

2011: First year of kid pitch

2011 2nd Place in State Tournament

2011 GVAA All Star Team – Runners-up in the Maryland State Tournament that year. Alex is in the second row, far left (#22)

Kid pitch field

2018: Kid pitch field where the heartbreaking runner up finish in the Maryland State Tournament took place.

2012: Kid pitch

2012

Alex took on the new position of catcher in 2012. He was a big force behind the plate and a run blocking machine, which he successfully did in this picture.  It’s the same field they played on in 2011.

2013: Kid pitch field, a bit larger as they hit the pre-teen years

2013

Alex at bat

Preteen Field

2018: The field that kids play on after they move up from the smaller kid pitch field. A father and son are doing some batting practice on this evening.

2014: Still on the kid pitch field; the year of The Ripken Experience

2014 Ripken Experience

Alex on the mound during a game at the 2014 Ripken Experience Beach Blast Tournament. The team did fundraising and preparation for 2+ years to make the trek to this event. It was a great week. We made it to the playoff round, but were knocked out of the tournament by a team from Georgia that played baseball year-round.

2015: We move up to a larger field

2015

Alex takes a foul ball off the mask. He stayed in the game after getting his bell rung.

2015A

Alex and his brother Nick, who (perhaps not so willingly) served as the bat boy for the team

Field 4

Field #4 – one step away from the “big” boy/adult field. On Thursday night, the 14U All Star team is getting ready to practice, as they prep for the state tournament taking place this weekend.

2016: Same field, becoming young men

2016

A between innings chat with the umpire

2017: We move to the big field; Alex plays high school ball in his freshman year

2017 JV

Alex on the JV high school baseball team in the Spring

2017 GVAA Travel

Playing for the travel team in the Summer

Big boy field

The “big boy” field, the evening of July 12, 2018. Getting ready to play ball.

2018: The final year

2018

My baseball knight, in his catcher’s armour

Last Night Behind the Plate at Heritage.JPG

Alex catching in the last baseball game he will ever play at Heritage Farm Park, Thursday, July 12, 2018

The memories I have from Alex’s youth baseball career are deep. They include…

…10 years of physical growth, skill honing and emotional development

…10 years of amazing wins and heartbreaking losses

…10 years of community and friendship building in a new town we had moved to when Alex was just 2 years old, with no family or established friend support system locally

…10 years of new teammates coming, old teammates going and some teammates being there for the entire ride, like these two:

IMG_4273A

Teammate Mason Long

IMG_4377A

Teammate Jacob Kutchey

All of these baseball memories cut deep into my psyche. And they are stronger than any disappointment I may have temporarily felt about Alex not making the high school baseball team this year.

Painful cuts can be deep. We feel them more. Or, perhaps, when we reflect on all the memories, we just think we feel them more.


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Being First Lady – Not As Cool As I Thought It Would Be

Our boys — now 13 and 14 — have participated for more than 8 years in organized sports through our local community organization, GVAA. We tried soccer briefly, but found our niche in the following areas: baseball (for the oldest in Spring/Summer), lacrosse (for the past three years for our youngest in Spring), football (for both in the Fall),  and basketball (for both in the Winter).

And we have volunteered our time (and money) in numerous ways:

  • Taxi driver: toting our kids (and friends of our kids who may need a ride) to practices, workouts, tryouts, games, tournaments, urgent care, and end-of-season parties.
  • Baggage handler: shoving any combination (depending on the season/sport) of coolers, camera bags, lawn chairs, pop-up canopies, smelly football pads, extremely heavy catcher’s gear bags, and lacrosse sticks that don’t @#$%-ing fit within the limited length of an SUV, to haul over countless miles. Only to unpack it once you arrive at your destination and drag it all what seems like 26.2 miles to the field. And — finally — fruitlessly try to repack the vehicle at the end of the day, cussing out your morning self for being so much more spatially aware than your afternoon/evening self who wants to know how the hell all this crap fit in the car less than 12 hours ago. (It’s obviously that souvenir tournament tee shirt we bought that put us over the edge).
  • Scorekeeper: score keeping is the easy part. The real work is dealing with the parents who ask you to “rethink” that error you assigned to their little superstar when he kicked the baseball instead of catching in it his glove. Or making sure you give their kid credit for the assist on the three-pointer, when it was actually an errant throw that bounced off their kid’s head and into the hands of the player who shot the basketball. 17_times_rolling_your_eyes_was_totally_acceptable__16_
  • Groundskeeper: over the years, we have cut more grass and raked more dirt than is quantifiable. We have helped shop-vac rain off of baseball fields, spread sawdust on wet fields, and paint lines on football and baseball fields. And our HOA wonders why we don’t have any free time to so much as paint our mailbox post.
  • Photographer: photography has become a hobby, and I take photos at many of my kids’ games. I take pictures of all the players and share them via private team groups on Facebook and Shutterfly. This includes baseball, lacrosse, football, and basketball. It also involves a lot of standing, crouching, walking/running the length of the field to get a great shot or catch up with the action. I’ve also been told at least once by a grandparent “you need to move because you are in my way and I can’t see the game” (Really? Because, I was here first, granny.). And at least twice, I was chastised because I “obviously favor some kids over others, because you don’t take nearly enough photos of my kid.” (well, then, buy your own camera and take your own photos, freeloader).
  • Coach: in the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished category, this is probably the worst. No parent of a player is ever satisfied with: 1) the practice schedule, 2) the coach’s plans for skills that will be focused on during practices, 3) their kid’s playing time, 4) the fact that every game isn’t a home game, 5) weather-related delays, postponements, and reschedulings, 6) having to work the concession stand, 7) fundraisers being required in addition to the player registration fee, 8) the team mom’s blatant disregard for establishing a proper snack and drink schedule, 9) the end of season awards party menu, and 10) the fact that the grievance process has to start with the coach, who has already said he finds parental complaints to be totally unfounded and the result of “the petty BS of them trying to relive their childhood sports prowess through their kid(s), who would rather be watching Minecraft videos on YouTube than paying attention at practice.”
  • Food service worker: I consider any time spent working the concession stand, paying my penance here on earth. Because my delusional husband considers his groundskeeping (football)/scorekeeping (baseball and basketball)/coaching (basketball) work to be equal to food service work, I get stuck frying chicken tenders and mozzarella sticks, concocting walking tacos (don’t ask), smothering nacho chips and hot pretzels with cheese, waiting three minutes for a 6 year old to select what color of Gatorade they want when the line of customers is 20+ long, and — worst of all — making those damn sno-cones.Calm SnoCones
  • Philanthropist: I have supported the organization through player registration fees, in addition to all these other volunteer opportunities listed above. I have also purchased more pizza kits, cookie dough, coupon books, spirit wear, dance tickets, dine-around-town dinners, tournament tee shirts, food and drinks at the concession stand, drinkware, car decals, and team/individual photos than I can remember.

    New Pilot

    Now, we are road ready.

This year, after not much thought, my husband decided to run for President of the kids’ sports organization. For a small town of around 5,800 that pulls participants from 3 small elementary schools and one middle school, it seemed like a fabulous way to volunteer and give back to an entity that had provided so much fun and entertainment for our kids.

And he won! How fabulous that he’ll be able to help guide policy and programs to help future players and their parents through our tight-knit town’s offerings.

And me? I get to be First Lady. Here’s what wikipedia says about being the First Lady:

The position of the First Lady is unofficial and carries no official duties. The role of the First Lady has evolved over the centuries. The main role of the First Ladies, besides their private role as spouse, has been as host and organizer to the White House.[2] She organizes and attends official ceremonies and functions of state either along with, or in place of, the president.

The position is largely one of status, and First Ladies have held influence in a range of sectors, from fashion to public opinion on policy.

No official duties? Host and organizer of ceremonies and functions? Status? Influence in fashion? (we’re all going to get bling spirit wear, bitches!)

Lions Mom Bling

Lion sports mom – bling it!

And unlike that do-gooder Michelle Obama (who advocates for healthy families, higher education, and international adolescent girls education…BO-ring!), I can focus on my pet project, water conservation:

Tequila

Hot damn!

But, so far, being the First Lady is not really the life of glamour and prestige I imaged it to be. Why?

  • I don’t get a cool nick-name: Unlike FLOTUS, which sounds like a lush, tropical bloom with an aroma that transports you to an ethereal, peaceful place, my nick-name is FLGVAA (pronounced “flog-va”). Which sounds more like an S&M expert, with an unnatural leather/chain/pain fetish. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I guess. You freaks.
  • I still have to keep my real (paying) job: According to wikipedia, since 2001, the president has earned a $400,000 annual salary, along with a $50,000 annual expense account, a $100,000 nontaxable travel account, and $19,000 for entertainment. My husband’s new presidency comes with an annual salary of $0, with a big, fat nothing else for expenses, travel, and/or entertainment. Unless we pay for it. Lame, huh?
  • We don’t get a break on volunteering: Our time as taxi driver, baggage handler, scorekeeper, groundskeeper, photographer, coach, and food service worker does not get reduced in any way. In fact, it will be even more obvious if we don’t do these things. So that doesn’t leave much time for all the potential highfalutin official ceremonies and functions of state. Seems I’ll need to continue to carve out plenty of time for all the lowfalutin crap I’m already doing. Yay.
  • And some volunteer roles are expanded: Like philanthropy. It’s not enough for us to purchase something from every fundraiser that gets dreamed up, and just call it a day. Now we have to show up for every “dine-around-town” and stay for the duration of the event thanking all the players, families and fans who show up to make a purchase for a percent of the proceeds going to our organization. If the Prez gets…say…’stuck at work late’ or ‘delayed due to bad traffic’, the First Lady has to fill in, greeting and thanking everyone. And for the fundraising dances, the First Couple can’t arrive fashionably late as has been their custom (i.e., at the point where all our friends are good and sauced) and then leave early (“to get home and make sure the kids aren’t trying to kill each other”). No. We have to show up early and stay until last call the event is over and everyone has cleared out.

All of this only means one thing — the FLGVAA’s water conservation program starts now. Bottom’s up, my people.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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I Admit It; I Have a Weed Problem

On May 14, on our way out to my youngest son’s birthday dinner (what…you thought I would cook?),  I noticed our landscaping had gotten a bit out of control. I had my son stand next to the offending weed, and promptly posted the picture to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, acknowledging my lack of (any) gardening prowess:

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After I posted the picture, two different Facebook friends who don’t know each other and live over 1,400 miles apart posted the exact same meme to my wall, just a little over an hour apart:

Julie Meme

Merrie Meme

Well, all I have to say for myself is … #Truth …and #Lazy…perhaps even #We’reNeverFreakin’Home…and if I’m really honest, #OurHOACanSuckIt.

gardending today

Just kidding, HOA! Please don’t send me another violation notice — we’ve moved the trash cans and polished the copper roof. We’ll get to the lawn soon, I promise! Or right after baseball tournament season. So just step off, already.

This isn’t the first time my landscaping has gotten out of control. But what really gripes me is that my little patch of tulips don’t even bother blooming any more and go right to the pathetic looking stage. They might as well be weeds, too:

IMG_1263

And I obviously can’t control things, because to the left of our front door is this burgeoning thistle forest:

IMG_1262

And only 10 days after the first photo, the giant thistle to the right of our front door continues to mock me by growing at an alarming rate:

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I also have a kid-who-needs-his-hair-cut problem. But one suburban disaster at a time, thank you.

One of my Facebook friends responded to the post of my beanstalk with the following:

John comment

Ha ha —  very funny. Yes, it’s a huge thistle and yes it probably would produce at least a vat of soup. As if I ever have an interest in cooking anything, however.

Or weeding, for that matter.

Hi. My name is Becky. And as long as I have kids playing sports, I’m gonna have a weed problem.

 


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I Have Some Serious Kobe Numbers…Maybe I Should Retire Also

Basketball has never been my favorite sport. Not when I’m watching it on TV (college or NBA), or sitting in a smelly gym on sub-standard bleachers getting splinters in my ass while middle school teen boys make their best effort to score points and impress the middle school girls who have come to watch.

But I am impressed with Kobe Bryant’s incredible run with one team (his inability to stay faithful to one wife; not so impressive).  And his stats are amazing for what will be a 20-year career when he finally walks away from it all.

This week, he announced that he’s made the decision at the ripe old age of 37 and with a net worth of $360 million (give or take), to retire at the end of this season. At the ripe old age of 49, I believe I’ve got a net worth of $360 worth of glitter glue I will never use on projects I wish I had the time for.

With a solid decade on Kobe in terms of age, I decided to compare his career in basketball to my career in being a parent to kids who play sports. What I’ve found is that I have definitely put in some serious time, banked some serious numbers, and frankly, I should technically be ready for some serious retirement.

How ’bout we let the numbers speak for themselves:

Well, there you have it. Kobe’s 20 year career as a basketball pro vs my 13 year career as a mom. Look at the numbers I’ve amassed — and 7 years faster than Kobe. What a sparkling, shining, and shimmering example of pro motherhood.

Seems all that glitters is not just crafting glue.


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What If…

What if…six years ago I had really put my foot down and said no when my husband announced that Alex was going to play football?

I mean, was he crazy? I didn’t want my precious 8 year old baby getting knocked around and possibly hurt in such a rough sport. My husband reassured me that at the Mini-Pony level Alex would be playing on, coaches were on the field to help and instruct. It wouldn’t be until the next level that they played “real” football games. So I agreed to one year and we could assess it after that.

What if…after that first year — in spite of my reservations — I was totally hooked?

What if…I loved Saturdays at the football field (minus the concession stand work, of course!), couldn’t wait to sign up our youngest son Nick for next year, couldn’t wait for Alex to play again – the “real” kind of football?

What if…I blinged out spirit wear, took tons of photos, and bought Lion paw earrings in blue and gold?

What if…I captured unforgettable moments on video that Mini-Pony season? Like our team’s touchdown pass to win the SuperBowl in the final 6 seconds of the game:

What if…the emotional post-game coaches’ speeches after that Mini-Pony SuperBowl win were also part of the video memories I made? Including one speech that choked up the head coach, a man who usually doesn’t get too emotional:

What if…many of those boys went on in the next stage of their junior football careers to play another SuperBowl two years later in the Pony division?

What if…we were playing a team we had beaten in the regular season, so spirits were high for a win?

What if…I painted my face with Lion paws, had on my blinged out spirit gear, and made a ton of cupcakes for the boys, coaches and fans in attendance?

All this really shows is that I need to touch up my roots and that a chemical peel might be a good idea.

All this really shows is that I need to touch up my roots and that a chemical peel might be a good idea.

What if…with less than 2 minutes to go in the game, the other team scored a touchdown to pull ahead of us?

What if…we were unable to score in the last minute and a half and lost the game?

What if…the boys had to stand on the field and congratulate the other team as they received the SuperBowl trophy, even though that’s the last place they wanted to be; would they appreciate this life lesson in good sportsmanship?

What if…one of the coaches had to give the post-game talk, and tell the boys through his own tears that he really was sorry because he wanted them to experience the thrill of winning a “real” SuperBowl?

What if…there were lots of 10 years olds in tears that day?

What if…truthfully, there were a lot of parents and grandparents in tears that day, including me with the blue and gold lion paws I had painted on my face running from the tears that betrayed all of hurt I felt as a parent when you see your kid experience disappointment?

What if…two years later, our boys had a good season and had to gut out a few wins toward the end in order to make it to the playoffs at the JV level?

What if…the boys played hard and got through the two rounds of playoffs to make it to another SuperBowl?

What if…we went up against a team we had beaten during the regular season — just like two years earlier?

What if…the score was 0-0 with 24 seconds left in regulation, and we scored a touchdown to take the lead?

What if…on the ensuing kick off, the other team ran it back for a touchdown, tying the game and sending us into overtime?

What if…we were not able to score on our 4 downs, but the opponent kicked a field goal on its fourth down and won the game?

What if…those boys had to again stand on the field and behave as gracious losers, congratulating yet another team as they received the SuperBowl trophy? Would the life lesson from two years ago help ease the pain a bit?

What if…in the post-game huddle, the coaches told the boys how proud of them they were, and told them to look ahead to their final year of junior football before high school, saying we would have an awesome team that could compete with anyone?

What if…the coaches were absolutely right?

What if…as if to bookend where it all started with Mini-Pony (for the Rice family, anyway), the Varsity team had an undefeated season this year?

What if…we headed into the first round of the playoffs facing an opponent we had beaten on their home field during the regular season?

What if…once again, spirits were high for a successful run through the playoffs to the SuperBowl as a #1 seed?

What if…it was not to be?

What if…our boys were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round game, as a drive to tie the game in the last minute fell short?

What if…the most true thing one of the coaches told the boys in the post-game huddle was: “A good team won today, and a good team lost today.”?

What if…that wasn’t the end of the story?

What if...I told you, a group of boys — some of whom I had watched over six years (a number have been playing together even longer) — became fine young men before my eyes that day?

What if…it was not because they had only one season in six years where they didn’t make the playoffs…and not because they had their second undefeated season in all those years…and not because they outscored their opponents 276 to 26 in the regular season of their Varsity year?

What if…they became young men because at the end of the game our team asked if they could pray with the team that had just knocked them out of the playoffs and dashed their hopes for a SuperBowl win?

What if…they became young men because they asked to kneel with ‘the enemy” to show solidarity for one of the opponent’s teammates — 12 year old Colby Reid — who was just diagnosed with stage IV Anaplastic Large Cell (Non-Hodgkins) Lymphoma and is now going through six months of aggressive chemotherapy treatments?

What if…our coaches had both teams gather in the center of the field, and one of our coaches led the players and coaches from both teams in prayer for Colby and his family, and our boys shouted a hearty “Amen” once the prayer was done?

Post-game prayer for Colby Reid

Post-game prayer for Colby Reid, led by Walkersville Lions coach Brett Hess. Photo courtesy of Michelle Ahalt.

What if…I had missed this incredible, amazing, heart-wrenching moment in the lives of these young men and their coaches?

What if…six years ago, I had said no to something that would have brought me so many ups and downs, wonderful memories, and a host of friends I now call my sports family?

What if…I get to keep it all in my heart forever?

My son Alex:

Six amazing years

Six amazing years

The 2015 Varsity Walkersville junior Lions: