A Side of Rice

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


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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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Missing Inaction

Yes, I know dear readers (both of you!). It has been awhile since I last posted. In my defense, the universe recently conspired to make my life crazier than normal, with the trifecta of:

  • spilling my FULL cup of coffee all over my brand new laptop, resulting in me having to send it away to be fixed by the Geek Squad. Luckily, I had purchased the I’m such a dumbass, so I need the extra ‘in-case-I-do-anything-stupid’ insurance, and the complete repair was free. During the time I was laptopless, I had to share the other laptop with my boys, which meant eyerolls, huffs, sighs, and mutterings when I needed to use the laptop. Because this meant my boys’ viewing time of Vines showing farting, falling, bones breaking, sports silliness, bad lip synching, Elaine Benis-style dancing, and other nonsense aimed at those with a mental maturity no greater than Beavis and Butthead was limited by my need to look up what bat shit crazy advice “every woman” Gwenyth Paltrow was sharing with us common folk.
  • at work, we had a big — I mean BIG — launch to contend with in April. So many moving parts and pieces, endless meetings, longer-than-usual workdays, work on weekends, communication plans, backup plans, backup backup plans, war rooms, conference calls – you name it, we were doing it. And it turned out to be a success. Yay team.
  • the Spring sports season has started for my kids. We have one that plays baseball (both travel and rec teams) and one that plays lacrosse. That means for the past month and a half, there have been practices Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, possibly Friday if any of those previously mentioned days get rained out, and Saturdays. Recently, we’ve moved into actual games, so that means there are lacrosse practices Monday and Wednesday, with games on Saturday (occasionally double headers). There are also rec baseball games during the week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday this week alone for rec), and games on Saturday (sometimes double headers), and travel baseball game double headers on Sunday. Does your head hurt as much as mine yet?

So it’s not any mystery that:

  • our dinner options tend to come with the “would you like fries with that?” inquiry.
  • the recurring complaint is “I don’t have any clean socks and underwear — does anyone ever do the laundry around here?”
  • which leads to the recurring rebuttal “if you don’t like the frequency with which we do the laundry around here, tough shit feel free to grab a basket of your smelly, teen-funkified clothing and start the washer yourself.”
  • at least once a week, someone forgets to bring at least one of the following to a game: a folding chair, snacks, cleats, Fireball, water, Gatorade, a blanket, sunblock, chapstick, batting gloves, Patrón, the camera, sunglasses, or a helmet.

So, thanks for your patience readers. And know that if I go missing, it certainly isn’t from inaction.


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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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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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Dunk. Dunk. Goof!

My older son’s baseball team is planning a sports trip of a lifetime to Cooperstown Dreams Park in 2014. I have a few friends who have done it with their kids and they tell me it is an amazing experience for the players and the families.  They

  • play a week’s worth of games (along with a playoff and championship round)
  • get home and away uniforms
  • compete in skills competitions
  • stay onsite with their coaches and meet kids from the 104 teams from across the country and around the world who come to play that week

It’s $1,600 (per player). To earn the money to go, we are having a number of fundraisers for the boys.  First we did a Hit-a-Thon where the boys could be paid a flat amount, or per foot (220 feet maximum) for the farthest of 10 balls they hit.  I pledged $1 per foot and ended up stroking a check for $220.

That $220 worth of swing, right there

That $220 worth of swing, right there.

We have other fundraisers planned. “Fundraiser” seems to be a fancy ass name for “nice little event, but it doesn’t matter because mom and dad are going to be putting out for the majority of this anyway”.

During our town’s annual Summer carnival, the team was given the opportunity to staff the dunk tank one evening and share the proceeds with the local Fire Department. It was $1 for three balls, $3 for 10 balls and $5 for 20 balls. If you were able to dunk the person three times during your turn, you won a 2-liter of soda. So get some exercise and then load up on sugar. Great plan.

Each of our boys took a turn in the dunk tank. There was a microphone so you could heckle the ball throwers. Heckling seems to improve everyone’s aim because each boy ended up getting dunked.

Even the coaches got in on the action. Nothing makes your aim more accurate than the chance to dunk the coach who’s been riding your ass all season long about your fielding/throwing/hitting skills.

When it was my oldest’s turn, he encouraged the little kids who tried to dunk him. Until his younger brother Nick took a turn.  Then Alex began heckling Nick — which may have been a mistake.  Because that seemed to improve his accuracy.

Nick takes aim at his brother Alex

Nick takes aim at his brother Alex

Nick did so well with the 20 balls that he won this:

Fabulous. Let's give this crazy kid some liquid sugar.

Fabulous. Just what this kid needs —  liquid sugar.

Even though it wasn’t Nick’s team, he wore his swim trunks so that he could take a turn in the tank.  Nick’s turn came later in the evening, close to 10:00pm. By that time the little kids were gone, but older kids/young men who were trying to impress their girlfriend or posse were stepping up to show off their accuracy.

Nick was bit more excited about access to a microphone than the dunk tank. He began his heckling immediately. I had to refrain from shouting at him “Keep your distance from the microphone”. You see, much like his mother, Nick’s say-only-smart-things filter is actually set to say-only-smart-ass-things.

At the end of Nick’s turn, a big high schooler stepped up to try his luck with 20 balls. He wasn’t doing that well and when he got to the final ball, he threw it real hard. And missed.

Nick immediately grabbed the microphone and yelled “Sayonara Sucker!”  The team moms turned and looked at me like this:

The eyebrow and scowl of disapproval From website: http://inflexionadvisors.com/

The eyebrow and scowl of disapproval
From website: http://inflexionadvisors.com/

and one of them commented, “Nick is such a mini-Becky”.

Yep, he’s a total goof.


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The Rice Experience at The Ripken Experience

This Memorial Day weekend, my oldest son’s Travel/All Star baseball team played in a Tournament at The Ripken Experience in Aberdeen, MD.  Holy crap, what an amazing place for the kids to play baseball.

Copyright 2012, Ripken Baseball, Inc.

Copyright 2012, Ripken Baseball, Inc.

You should know that the Ripken experience is not only about skills and abilities on the ball field. In addition, they have a very serious code of conduct for coaches, players and parents/fans:

Love it.

Love it.

Damn right!

Damn right!

Wait...no #$%&ing cussing? I'll be out before I get in.

Wait…no #$%&ing obscene language? I’ll be out before I get in.

And you don’t ever want to get your name on this ejection list, posted next to Cal Ripken Sr., Field:

Way worse than being on Santa's naughty list

Way worse than being on Santa’s naughty list

I’m pleased to report I stayed off the ejection list. Suck on that, Santa.

On Friday night, they played at Little Fenway Park.  To make the experience even more real, Mother Nature gave us a a taste of Boston – in the freakin’ Winter. It was barely 40 degrees, with a nasty wind and (cherry on top!) a spitting/misty rain toward the end of the game.  I believe team mom Connie was the best prepared for this start-of-Summer event:

Nothing says hello Summer like a baseball tournament with your parka, blanket, scarf and ear warmers.

Nothing says “Hello Summer!” like a baseball tournament with your parka, blanket, scarf and ear warmers. Where are your mittens, woman?

Even though the parents were “wicked frozen”, the kids loved it.  We got a picture of them in front of the Green Monster:

The 11U Walkersville Lions in front of the Green Monster

The 11U Walkersville Lions in front of the Green Monster

And one of them around the Ripken experience logo on the hill overlooking many of the fields and a practice area:

Say baseball!

Say baseball!

Of course, we had some editorializing from the kids:

Yep. There's always one.

Yep. There’s always one. At least it wasn’t my kid.

Our boys had a blast.  They started with a come from behind win in the first game:

A big win in the first game

A big win in the first game

Which, of course, means absolute silliness

Which, of course, means absolute silliness

They won on Saturday:

A win against a NY team on Citizens Bank field

A win against a NY team on Citizens Bank field

Got to have the silly shot

Got to have the silly shot

And they took the third game in pool play as well:

Another win, another goofy picture

Another win, another goofy picture

After the pool play, we were ranked #1 in our division:

Walkersville Lions - #1 in our division

Walkersville Lions – #1 in our division

And going into the championship round, we were the #4 seed in the tournament:

#4 overall going into to championship rounds

#4 overall going into to championship rounds

This is how a few of the moms and I celebrated:

A Salted Caramel Mocha (middle) and Cafe Latte-tinis. No, they're not all mine. But  I did have two Latte-tinis. Long day at the park, people.

A Salted Caramel Mocha (middle) and Cafe Latte-tinis. No, they’re not all mine. But I did have two Latte-tinis. It was a long day at the park, people.

The drink also helped me sleep that night because I was sharing the double bed at the hotel with my son Nick. When I woke up in the morning my arm was numb; Nick was sleeping on it.  Because this is how close he was to me:

I'm hanging onto the edge of the bed for dear life because Nick is this close to me.

I’m hanging onto the edge of the bed for dear life

We ended up losing to a team in the first round of championship play – the Sacred Heart Angels.  Nothing like pulling the “God” card to help your team out, huh?

Overall, the boys had a great weekend at The Ripken Experience. I would have to say the Rices did as well.


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Real Super Heroes: Honorary Bat Girls

As many of my readers know, my family is BIG into sports.  We are now into the baseball season – with 5 months of practices, recreational team games, travel team games and tournaments, and All Star tournaments for our boys.

My oldest son’s team wears a pink ribbon patch on their travel/All Star uniforms. We have a team mom who is a breast cancer survivor — going into her 6th year cancer free! We have another mom who was diagnosed about 18 months ago and has gone through chemo, radiation and the host of indignities that every cancer patient suffers through. HOPE is a very important word to her.

The boys proudly wear the pink ribbon patch in support of their teammate’s mom who is currently fighting the battle.  It reminds them that win or lose, there are things in life bigger than a baseball game.

Our boys support the fight against breast cancer

Our boys support the fight against breast cancer

I had recently been on a work trip to Louisville, KY.  I visited the Louisville Slugger museum while there. During the tour of the factory, they told the story of the pink bats used on Mother’s Day throughout the Major League Baseball.

The pink bat in the Louisville Slugger store

The pink bat in the Louisville Slugger store

I was impressed with the Louisville Slugger company. When my Facebook newsfeed had a story from the Baltimore Orioles about the Honorary Bat Girl Contest on Mother’s Day co-sponsored by Major League Baseball and Louisville Slugger, I immediately thought of my baseball family.  Without reading the details, I suggested the contest to the daughter of the mom currently in the fight.

Sarah Grace was very excited and wrote an essay about why she would like to be considered. Turns out you have to be 18 years old to be nominated to win.  Sarah Grace is not yet in high school. Disappointed — but not discouraged — she immediately wrote a nomination for her mom.

I hope you will consider voting for any of the amazing women who have been nominated.  You can search by baseball team to select someone local to you.  But I also HOPE you’ll read the story of my fellow baseball mom Krista. You can vote for Krista here:  http://bit.ly/VoteKristaMc

Sarah Grace is an amazing young lady. Her efforts to honor her mother and other breast cancer victims gives us the HOPE we all need.

Krista and Sarah Grace

Krista and Sarah Grace

===========================================================

Update on my No Runs. No Hits. No Mother. post:

My husband did get that Opening Day photo.  He took it with our nice camera.  He  texted me that he got a picture of the boys and then e-mailed the picture to me while I was in Louisville.

It was a great picture:

What a handsome pair

What a handsome pair

When I got home from my trip, I took pictures at a game on Sunday. When I went to download the pictures, there was the original Opening Day picture. And a few more my husband hadn’t mentioned:

Another view. Nice.

Another view. Nice.

Brotherly love - awww (or maybe that should be 'awe')

Brotherly love – awww (or maybe that should be ‘awe’)

Uh....what's going on here?

Uh….what’s going on here?

Oh yeah. They're my kids.

Oh yeah. They’re my kids.

Most Valuable Husband. For sure.


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No Runs. No Hits. No Mother.

This Saturday is the annual Opening Day for the GVAA little league for our sons.  The little kids in tee ball, machine pitch and the minors love it – they get to stand on the “big boy” field and wave their caps to all the parents and grandparents as their team name is called.  The tweens enjoy it because they can shove, wedgie, wet willy and sucker punch one another in a group cluster where no one can really determine who started it. And the teens endure it cuz there might be some hot sisters of their fellow teammates milling about.

Now, I’m what you would call a big supporter. Some might say I go a little too far. I do things like buy sparkly iron-ons and wear them in public, to support my boys.

Mom's sparkly breasted salute to her baseball stars

A sparkly-breasted salute to my baseball stars

When it comes to kids playing, having a good time, developing team camaraderie (that doesn’t involve wedgies), learning some skills and being the responsibility of someone other than me getting playing tips from their coach for a few hours? Count me in.

And I really like the moms and dads of the other kids on the teams.  They are a pretty cool bunch. If they are willing to overlook my flaws (cussing ad nauseum), I am willing to overlook a few things too (I may have said to some well-intentioned, holier-than-me individuals,  “I appreciate your efforts to save my heathen soul, but…really…for the last time…I’m not accepting anyone as my savior unless they arrive in the Publisher’s Clearing House van holding a very large check with my name on it.”).

But this year, Opening Day will be different for me.  I will be spending it — not (as you might suspect) in the 8th circle of hell (aka concession stand duty). Nope. I’ll be in Louisville, KY. (Editor’s note: go Cards, my son Nick has you winning it all in his bracket this year!)

My new job duties require me to attend a conference in Louisville this weekend. So this is the first Opening Day — in the 6 years Alex and Nick have been playing — that I will miss.

Nick - ready for tee ball. Which seems like a million years ago now. Not 6 years.

Nick – ready for tee ball in 2007. Which seems like a million years ago now. Not a mere 6 years.

Each year I’ve gotten Opening Day pictures of our boys. Like this one from last year.

Was this only a year ago?

It looks like Nick is giving his brother a wedgie. But he’s not. Maybe.

This year, I’m relying on my husband to get the Opening Day picture.  Which I’m sure he’s going to enjoy being responsible for, in addition to carting the boys to the Opening Day ceremony, keeping the team he coaches from partaking in too many wet willies, and then getting both boys to their games. It would be so much easier if his wife didn’t have to be out of town on business this weekend.

For me, it’s no runs or hits this weekend. Let’s hope there’s no error in securing an Opening Day photo.


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Mom’s Vital Signs

Yesterday, the coach of my son Alex’s travel baseball team sent an e-mail with a list of the signs our boys would need to master for this season.  It was a mind-numbing list, considering I can’t even get my 11 year old to remember that athletic cups belong no where near or on:

  • the kitchen table
  • tray tables in the family room
  • the decorative shelf in the family room
  • the dog (don’t ask)

My son and his teammates have to learn the signs for steal, bunt, fake bunt, hit and run…and so many more. Here’s the coach’s e-mail:

Hi everyone,

To help the players learn the new signals for this baseball season, we’d like you to help your player learn them. It will be a fun activity with you son. The following are the signals, so if you could go through them with your son, print them if you can, and also try them out so he can identify the signal with you just doing them, that would be very cool. It will help a lot. We will use these signals in the game on Sunday.

Tips in teaching them: nothing the 3rd base coach does matters with his gestures until he executes the indicator (hands to both ears). So, the boys need to focus on the indicator AND the first thing done immediately after the indicator. Nothing else matters in getting the signals. When you are teaching them, do a bunch of stuff before and after the indicator so your player can find the indicator action.

Signals:

Indicator: will be hands to both ears. Remember no signal is on until the indicator is given, and then it’s the 1st signal following the indicator. If there is no signal given following the indicator, then nothing is on. Players really need to focus on the indicator being given, because nothing else matters with the 3rd base coach’s actions until that happens.

Bunt: will be one hand to the back of the neck following the indicator.

Steal: will be a swipe down each arm following the indicator.

Hit and Run: will be a swipe down each arm, and a swipe across the belt following the indicator.

Fake Bunt Double Steal: will be a swipe down each arm, followed by a swipe down each leg, following the indicator.

Take: will be open hand to the W on the front of the cap, automatic take with a 3-0 count unless you get the “green light.”

Green Light: will be 1 finger pointed at the batter with NO indicator given.

Wipe off signal given prior pitch: will be swipe across the chest following the indicator. The signal is on the next pitch if the coach doesn’t swipe across the chest following the indicator.

Suicide Squeeze: will be open hand to the mouth of the 3rd base coach, following the indicator. Both the runner on 3rd and the batter must pull on the bill of their helmet to advise that they both have the signal.

Player’s Responsibilities:

All batters and base runners: every batter and runner need to acknowledge when they get the signal. Once you get the signal, you should grab your helmet on the bill, like you are pulling down your helmet for a better fit, this tells us that you have picked up and received the signal.

Batters: Before every pitch as a batter it is your responsibility to look for signals from the 3rd base coach. Except when there are 2 strikes, not much the coach can give to the batter at that time. If the coach does decide to put something on with 2 strikes, (which is very rare), the coach will ask for the batter to step out.

Base runners: Base runners, every pitch, no matter the bases you are on, it is your responsibility as soon as you get on that base, to pick up the 3rd base coach for signals. Don’t look into the stands at your girlfriend or parents watching to see if they are cheering for you, immediately pick up the 3rd base coach. Don’t worry, they are cheering for you!

Geez!  All that crammed into their 11 year old brains?  It’s no wonder they can’t remember to put their cup where it belongs.

But it got me thinking…maybe I should be using signs in my house.  So here’s the list I’ve come up with:

Who cut into the Bunt cake? It’s supposed to be for a bake sale! : will be one hand to the back of my neck to rub out the newly tensed up muscle, following the indicator.

Stealing Cookies: will be me swiping at the arm with which you are trying to steal the cookies, following the indicator.

Hitting your brother and running away so he can’t retaliate: will be a swipe toward your backside if you come running anywhere near me, following the indicator.

Do not call my creation ‘Fake‘; Bunt cake still tastes good even it gets its start from a box mix. And I’m Double sure you won’t be Stealing a piece anyway: will be me swiping at each arm reaching out to cut themselves piece, following the indicator.

For the love of all that is holy, would you please take the garbage out: will be my open hand smacked to my forehead, unless I give you the “green light” to keep sitting on your ass (not likely), following  the indicator.

You do NOT have a Green Light to run thru this house: will be 1 (middle) finger pointed at the runner, following the indicator.

Wipe off the counter. Do you need a special signal, given that no prior yelling by me has helped you to see the mess you made? And aim the damn dirty wipe toward the trashcan. The last time you pitched it in the general direction of your brother and that nearly caused another hit and run: will be a swipe across the top of the the container to snatch a cleaning wipe and hand it to the offender, following the indicator.

Look, this isn’t my first rodeo. The ketchup didn’t commit suicide by self-squeeze until it was empty, and then put itself back in the frig. So who was the last to use it?: will be a hand to my open mouth in a feigned display of surprise and shock at finding empty food containers in the refrigerator, following the indicator.

Look. It's mom's happy face.Credit, Paolo Tarantini, Flickr

Look. It’s mom’s sign for empty the dish washer.
Photo Credit (c) Paolo Tarantini, Flickr

And my “Indicator(s):  “Sh*t!”  “F*ck!”   “D*mn!”  “H*ll!”.   Depending on the offense, it may be a possible ear-numbing combination of any of them.