A Side of Rice

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


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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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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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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:

IMG_1265

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:

IMG_1266

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:


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The Adventures of Collar Crusher and Broken Boy

While it sounds like this is the latest offering from Disney channel, starring a line-up of soon-to-be-hot-messes, it’s not. Well, the hot messes part is on target, but this is the painfully non-Disney like story of my sons Alex and Nick. Who might as well be named ‘Jesus, you outweigh your brother by 70 pounds’, and ‘for fuck’s sake, we told you tackle football was a bad idea’.

Last Sunday, my husband’s brother invited us to watch the opening day of NFL football. Also invited were his other brother, and a few friends they had grown up with. It seemed like a relatively benign way to spend a Sunday. If you define benign as ‘ha ha, life’s about to mess with you’.

During the games, our boys decided to go outside and toss a football around. I do believe my husband’s instructions were something along the lines of “be careful.”  I was more to the point. “I am not interested in spending my Sunday afternoon or evening at the emergency room, so don’t be stupid.”

Turns out ‘careful’ and ‘don’t be stupid’ took a holiday.

At around 6:30pm, my husband jumped off the couch and headed to the patio door that led to the backyard. He grumbled something like “Nick isn’t getting up.”  My husband’s brother said “it looks like he may be hurt”, and went outside to help. I figured they had everything under control.

If you define control as ”oh shit, party’s over.

My husband came back inside about 5 minutes later and growled “get your shit, we’re leaving.” I quickly grabbed the container of cookies I had made, and headed toward the door, thanking my sister-in-law for the hospitality.

When I got to the car, one thing was clear. Karma was letting me know my little snark about not visiting emergency rooms was not going to be tolerated. Nick was completely silent, with his right shoulder very obviously slumped forward and his eyes closed. His brother Alex was sitting next to him — equally as silent — with tears running down his cheeks.

We stopped at an urgent care near our home. My husband dropped Nick and I off, and took Alex home to walk the dogs. And probably to chew on his ass a little more.

They took Nick back to the x-ray room right away. During the initial medical review, Nick heard the words ‘surgery’ and ‘pins’ and turned pale. He said, “I think I may throw up.”  His blood pressure dropped and they laid him down on the exam table. I kept my cool and told him everything was going to be ok.

Once he was stable, they got him ready for the x-ray. By this time, my husband had returned. And my cool had departed. Because this showed up on screen:

I'm no doctor, but that doesn't look right...

I’m no doctor, but…

Which I think made my face do one of these:

*Cue audible gasp of horror*

*Cue audible gasp of horror*

And my mouth made a very loud noise, something like “ooowwwweeewwwwughhhhhhhh!”  My husband shot me a “shut it!” look, because there was no point in freaking Nick out any more than necessary. So I sat there silently, with my hand over my mouth, as tears started to flow.

Turns out Alex had fallen on Nick after tackling him, and the ball was under Nick’s shoulder. Nick’s shoulder gave way to the pressure of being squeezed between the football and his brother. Nick’s collar bone was broken. Broken completely in half.

Because when the Rices do something, they don’t do it half-assed, bitches.

We were given a print out of the x-ray, a referral to an orthopedic surgeon for the next day, and prescription for Tylenol with codeine. Since our normal pharmacy was already closed, we went to the only 24 hour pharmacy in town. Yay – they were out of the prescription and wouldn’t be able to get any before Tuesday. But they told us we could try the next closest 24 hour pharmacy, which was about 45 minutes away.

Being the loving, caring parents we are, we said the hell with that bought liquid ibuprofen and Tylenol, doubling the recommended dose once we got him home.

The next morning, all four of us piled into the car and headed to the doctor’s office. It was pretty busy, but we were grateful they had been able to fit in our emergency appointment. Of course, the waiting is always the hardest part:

Nick looks like he's stoned, doesn't he?

Nick looks like he’s stoned, doesn’t he?

It’s the hardest part until you end up seeing the doctor and he examines you, touching your very injured shoulder in a sneak attack that makes you your son jump and yelp.

And the examination is the hardest part until the tech comes in and has to reset the bone, then put on the brace and sling, causing you, your oldest son, and (most importantly) the injured son to start crying. This episode of The Adventures of Collar Crusher and Broken Boy brought to you by Kleenex.

After all the drama of Sunday and Monday, this popped up on my Facebook feed Tuesday morning:

My ballers

My ballers

This memory reminded me that when times are good, my boys love and support one another. And this experience let me know that when things are tough, they will empathize with and definitely support one another.

When it comes to The Adventures of Collar Crusher and Broken Boy, Disney couldn’t have scripted a better ending to this episode.


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This Is Still a Winning Bracket

I’m resurrecting this blog post from 2014. It’s awesome because:

  • it isn’t dependent year-after-year on who the hell was selected,
  • nobody gives a crap about anybody’s Cinderella story,
  • so what if the best team just got their asses handed to them by the underdog, and
  • I do not have to suffer through Dick Vitale calling the game

This bracket is winner. Every. Damn. Year.

Originally posted March 17, 2014

With all the hoopla surrounding March Madness, I decided to create a bracket that I could really get jazzed about. And it’s a total winner. Bitches.

This one's a winner

Who’s in?


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Any Given Saturday

Bert Bell, NFL Commissioner from 1946 – 1959, coined the phrase “on any given Sunday.” It means that no matter what the odds are, on any given Sunday any team can beat any other team.

I feel like we live it every single week when we cross our fingers and hope the Steelers show up on NFL Red Zone channel trying to score. Most of the time, they show up on the Red Zone channel trying to prevent the other team from scoring. We are just thrilled if they squeeze out a win any given Sunday.

But last weekend, we definitely experienced this phrase up close and personal. My oldest son’s football team had worked hard through the season to make it to the Super Bowl for his age group. My other son gets to play up with the D1 boys in this age group, since his D2 team had won their bowl game weeks ago. Our league plays the Super Bowl games for each age group on Saturday.

We were playing a team that we had gone up against in the regular season, having won by a touchdown in that game. We knew the game would be a good one; a tough one. But by beating them in the regular season, the odds should have been in our favor, right?

The game was a defensive gem. Both teams made plays that prevented scoring through the first three quarters of the game. As time wound down in the final quarter, with just 22 seconds left in the game, my friend Michelle’s son made this catch that I captured with my camera:

Brett's amazing catch over a tall defender

Brett’s amazing catch over a tall defender

With that and the kicked extra point (in this league, you get two points for an extra point kick since it’s harder for these kids), we were ahead 8 – 0. Elation!

On the ensuing kick off, that same #6 who had tried and failed to disrupt our pass play in the end zone got the ball and ran it all the way back for a touchdown. And their kicker got the extra point, so we were tied 8-8 and had to head to overtime. What’s the opposite of elation, cuz that’s how watching that play unfold felt.

In overtime, each team gets the ball on the 10 yard line and 4 downs to score. We won the toss and got the ball first. The defense for the other team did it’s job for the first three downs and on 4th down we weren’t able to run the ball in to score. Our defense took the field, and their offense ran three plays that resulted in no gain. On 4th down, they put their kicker in and he booted it through the uprights.

Now I — and the entire Lions Nation who came out to cheer our boys on — definitely felt the opposite of elation.

This was the second time in three years our boys made it to the Super Bowl for their age group in our league, against a team they beat in the regular season, only to lose in the last seconds of the game.  In 2012, they had played an undefeated season up until that Super Bowl game.

In 2012, there were lots of 9-, 10-, and 11-year old tears after that loss. And the coaches were pretty emotional as well. The parents and fans gathered around the boys as the coaches spoke to them after the game. I had painted my face with blue and gold Lion paws, and as the head defensive coach spoke to them after the game — crying through his speech — I ended up with runny paws on my cheeks from my own tears as I handed out the post-game cupcakes.

This year, the parents and fans gave the team their space during the post-game comments. My friend Michelle and I were standing near the team, ready to hand out the goodies I made them this year.

This year, there were tears again. Not as many, and not as strong, but 11-, 12-, and 13-year old boys still feel the sting of loss. So do their coaches, parents, and fans.

The Monday after the game, the boys had to turn in their uniforms. The team mom said that they were all sad and still upset about the loss, until one kid came in. She said to him “You doing ok, Nick?”  He quickly smiled and responded, “Sure am. Third time’s the charm, right?”

That’s right Nick…on any given Saturday, the third time could be the charm.

Any given Saturday, you may see the occasional tear.

Any given Saturday, you may see the occasional tear.

 

 


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Lessoning the Pain

When my husband and I moved to the little burb of Walkersville just over ten years ago, we didn’t know anyone. Well, except for his uncle and aunt, who showed up on the evening we moved in and asked for a tour of our new place. We really had nothing to show because the moving truck with all our stuff broke down halfway to our new home, but it was nice to know family would feel comfortable stopping by, uninvited at any inconvenient time they pleased.

Our social isolation didn’t last long, as we made friends with the parents of our boys’ classmates in daycare. But the real place we found our circle of friends was with the organized sports of baseball, football, and basketball.  We typically saw the same kids and parents throughout the year as we cheered the kids to victory, and supported them in defeat.

And it’s been that way for the past 6 years. We’ve spent some of our evenings and many of our weekends with these folks. So our closest friends are not our neighbors, but the families we spend the majority of our free kids’ sports time with.

Two years ago, our community was rocked by a tragic accident. Our next door neighbor’s teenage daughter was driving a car that was involved in an accident. One of the passengers was seriously injured. He was a teenager from our neighborhood. And the other passenger in the car — the driver’s very good friend — was killed in the accident. She lived 5 houses away from us.

We didn’t run in the same circles as the parents of these teenagers, but as a mom, it broke my heart to know what these parents were going through. The parents who did run in their circles and had been part of their kids’ lives were all going to be grieving. And while I was too, I was an outsider looking in. A safe distance from the major hurt.

Saturday, my sons had their first football playoff game, en route to a possible Super Bowl game.  On the way home, I checked Facebook and saw a post in the local high school news feed about a player who graduated in June 2014 who had died Friday night/Saturday morning.  My heart sank thinking the high school community would be suffering again.

Then this series of events took place, and I began to piece together how close yet another tragedy was:

  • when we arrived home from the football game on Saturday, there were more cars than usual at our neighbor’s house. “Must be having a party tonight,” I thought to myself.
  • cars kept showing up at our neighbor’s house all day on Sunday, and my son Alex said “they must be having a game watching party.”
  • later Sunday afternoon, the high school principal sent a message to parents and students to let them know June 2014 graduate Jon Sandoval had died due to possible alcohol poisoning, combined with over-the-counter medicine. The message was circulated via Facebook as well. Jon’s mom had asked that all parents use this as a teaching moment with their own children.Letter_from_Principal
  • while watching Sunday Night Football at my friend Rebecca’s house, her son told me he heard that the kid who died lived in our neighborhood
  • another mom texted me while we were watching Sunday Night Football and said she heard the kid lived on my street

On Monday afternoon there was a knock on our door. When I answered, the delivery man asked “Do you know the family across the street?”  I slowly responded “the Sandovals?”. And confirming what I pretty much had already figured out, the deliver driver said “Yes.”

The family wasn’t home and he had a delivery, so he asked if I could make sure they got it.  “Sure,” I quietly responded.

Later that night, as more cars came and went, I walked over to my neighbor’s house to deliver the basket. I stumbled and fumbled over my words, as I handed the basket to Jon’s younger sister Emily who had answered the door. I was barely able to choke out, “Uh…I’m your neighbor from across the street. This arrived today while you were out. Um…the delivery driver left it with me. So…I wanted to make sure you got it. And I  just want you to know that my family is thinking of your family and we offer you our sympathy.”

Emily very graciously took the basket and thanked me.

I was no longer a safe distance from the hurt. Even though we didn’t really know the family, this hurt felt up close and personal.

We’ve already talked to our 12 and 11 year old sons about this, as honestly and openly as we could. I write this post to respect the wishes of a grieving mother. She asked us to share Jon’s story, with the hope that it could make the difference for just one kid.

So, while I’m doing this to help with lessoning the pain, I really wish I could lessen the pain for my whole community.

RIP Jon Sandoval

RIP Jon Sandoval