Broken Spanish Isn’t Super Helpful In Quebec

They say the best way to experience a city is through the eyes of its citizens.  That being the truth or not, I had the terrific good fortune to have experienced Montreal through Chantal’s eyes.  Actually, back it up a minute: first and foremost, I have the terrific good fortune to call Chantal my friend.  She and I met because of a shared concentrated hobby (deep, abiding admiration for Barenaked Ladies), and here I found myself a few years hence, visiting her hometown.

Chantal and her daughter, Emily, scooped us up Saturday morning, showed us all the things tourists want to see, but perhaps don’t due to their distance from centre-ville (that’s French for downtown, see how multi-lingual I am now?).  Intrepid driver she, Chantal braved highway and road construction that abounded at every turn.  Every.  Turn.  You guys, I live in a winter climate.  Snow removal damages concrete and asphalt, I understand that, so I’m not unaccustomed to summer road construction, but Montreal??  They own, and I mean OWN, messed up construction traffic.

We hiked to the top of Mont Royal to see the cross, a tourist spot which also apparently is a hot spot for public group sex.  I swear I am not making that up. Read here if you don’t believe me.  Fortunately, we didn’t have to suffer bearing witness to this, and instead witnessed stunning views sweeping over the city in a verdant park.

I began this post thinking I’d detail the natural beauty and history of Montreal and Quebec City.  But the last game of my kid’s baseball season is looming, and I’m feeling emotional and thankful, so I’m focused on thankfulness.  I hope Chantal and Emily know how much we appreciated their time and local expertise, and most of all how we appreciated their company.  I don’t think I can thank them enough with words, so I’m hoping they can read my heartbeats.  Merci beaucoup and much love!  xoxo

The Queen of Quebec

A deep, sincere merci beaucoup is due to the dear lady who walked us all the way from the Gare du Palais in Quebec City to our hotel.  All the way.  Up a hill.  In the driving rain.  Did I mention the hill was steep and Mother Nature welcomed us with a monsoon?  Exiting the VIA Rail station in Quebec City, we encountered something of a downpour.  *ahem*  We stopped to ask assistance from one of the few pedestrians we encountered.  I’m one weak-ass polyglot, and when she or anyone greeted me with “bonjour” or “bon soir” my default was “hola” or “buenos dias.” So embarrassing.  Anyway, I attempted speaking to her in the very broken Spanish in my command, because I’m an idiot!, which was less useful than the little English in her command.  Apparently I can only second language in first-year college Spanish.  English was more effective, but she couldn’t quite direct us to our hotel with words.  We offered a weak merci, and changed direction.  Before we even got to the corner, she sped to catch us, then said something like, “I show you.”

And she did.  She accompanied us–saturated, lost, oh-so-obviously-tourists the kilometer or so to our hotel.  I can only imagine how pathetic and tired we must have appeared to her that she made it her job to deposit us at the Hotel Palace Royal.  We got near, and we thought we recognized the hotel from photos.  I said (OK, I tried to say) words to the effect of “we can take it from here,” but she insisted.  I felt in that moment like she was a mama wildebeest and we were the wildebeest babies she was bound to deliver across the river.  She was determined to get us there, like it was her sworn duty.  She marched (and y’all, this was not a leisurely stroll, no, she was hauling!) us to the literal front door, bid us adieu, and tears of intense gratitude stung my eyes.

A thousand thanks would feel inadequate.  I didn’t feel desperate exactly, though I surely wasn’t confident I’d locate and check in to our hotel in any sort of timely manner.  This lady, whom I’ve dubbed The Queen of Quebec demonstrated unbelievable kindness.  We made her day more difficult, surely more uncomfortably wet, yet she did something good for strangers just because.  I really hope karma takes good care of my queen.

Muchas Gracias

At this moment, I’m sitting atop my bed in a Crystal Lake, IL hotel.  Tomorrow is my son’s final baseball game of the season.  We’re here for the Summer International Classic, a tournament fielding teams from Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Japan, and the US.  It’s been almost exactly a year since my son joined this team.  In this time, he’s improved as a ball player, earned a few more Ws than Ls, had a great time with his teammates, and I’ve been made welcome into the Criollos baseball family.

My son was the only non-Latino or Hispanic child on the team, and you know what?  He didn’t even realize it because you know why?  He was becoming an improved ballplayer, winning a bunch of games, and having a great time with his teammates.  There is nothing so pure as kids playing a game they love.

There were moments I didn’t understand what was being said and I know I missed more than a couple jokes over the year, but there is no one I’d rather have spent summer with than my baseball family.  The coaches and my baseball moms are worth more than these piddly thanks I’m able to write.

I’m going to cry tomorrow, I know I am.  I’m tearing up already just thinking about what’s going to go down at around 10:30 tomorrow morning.  Muchas gracias por todo, Criollos family.  Thank you.  Merci beaucoup.

Namaste, Y’all

Book One

When we moved to our current home in 2005, an elderly lady, Miss Irene, owned the duplex next door.  Every day while my big kid napped, I would lounge around the patio table with my very pregnant feet up and read.  I read to my son every day, all the time, but I longed to read something with chapters!  Something longer and less sturdy than the steady diet of board books my son devoured.  My kid napped like a champ, so I usually had at least ninety connected minutes to disconnect from motherhood.

Typically more than half those ninety minutes were co-opted by Miss Irene.  She was a lonely soul whose “family”–daughter-in-law, granddaughter, grandson, and their crew–inflicted the worst kind of harm unto her.  Without reliving the experiences, let’s just say that her “family” drugged her (they were all in love with the heroin), and ran up her credit cards.  The goods they purchased they fenced from the front porch.  I came to know these details only much too late, after our neighbor, a long-time neighborhood resident filled us in.  He was the one who got her the help she needed, and the Department of Aging stepped in to remove her from her “family.”  We were new, so weren’t familiar with any of the players, and I kept busy trying my hardest not to throw up every minute of the day.  #2’s was a tough pregnancy, but I digress.

Miss Irene would amble over and chat me up each day the weather allowed me to sit outside.  I think she kept her eyes trained to her side window in hopes of a friendly face.  I wanted to hear nothing but the sound of silence as I made friends with yet another lawyer or homicide cop of some mystery author’s imagination.   But more often than not, I heard stories of Miss Irene’s youth–the dances she attended and the fancy dresses she chose, how the streets of Milwaukee had changed since streetcars were replaced by buses, her long-dead and deeply missed husband.  Her wonderful children.  (I didn’t know how truly awful they treated her.)

At that time, though I craved solitude, I listened to Irene’s tales.  Irene reminded me of my grandma, who would chat up every waitress, clerk, or bank teller in southeastern Wisconsin.  My grandma outlived most of her friends, so didn’t get much company as her years added up.  I always hoped that those souls who leaned in just a touch too long to listen to her stories were kind to her.  So that’s how I chose to be with Miss Irene.  I would hear the same stories nearly every day, sometimes twice or three times in quick succession.  Still, they were her memories and they mattered to her.  Talking to her made her happy I could tell.  So I let her talk, always hoping that someone would have shown my grandma the same kindness.

Kindness Gift (2).jpg


I walked my dog late this morning, and met a woman clearly not 100% in control of her faculties.  She was carrying an open half-gallon jug of milk (still cold judging by the condensation on the jug), and within the first minute of our chat, I learned that her husband had died five years ago.  He was an alcoholic whose demise was sped by the passing of their pet cat, gone now nine years.  Sally from HUD was unforgivable due to the shoddy job she did handling the sale of her husband’s condo.  Andy, her late husband should have just paid off that condo instead of wasting his father’s inheritance on booze.  But not beer, because a man can’t be an alcoholic if he drinks only beer.  And eight employees of her current address had quit or been fired since 2016.  She shared these details with me, random stranger, in fewer than five minutes.  Then she told me most of them again.

I relay this to you here not to poke fun, no.  I tell you because I’m no martyr, but it cost nothing to be kind to this woman.  She talked, I’d say “we” talked, but really, it was all her for about ten minutes before I really did need to keep moving. It was hard to break from her, as whatever diminished capacity she had impaired her social interactions as well, but I managed to extricate myself and bid her a good day.  I hope she gained something in those ten minutes, even if it was just a random stranger’s ear to let her tell her stories.  I would like someone to do that for someone I loved, or hell, for me when that time comes.

Book Two

My big kid’s brain is normal.  I’m not sure whether I am supposed to be relieved or disappointed about that.  I pick relieved.   Reading the radiologist’s report on my son’s brain MRI was a throwback to graduate school gross anatomy, and I was able to piece together some meaningful info about his brain as I read.  My son’s neurologist hypothesized that in addition to his muscle weakness, presence of chorea suggested there may be some problem the way the nerves were being fired at the cortical level.   I have no idea what any of this means for his future, but don’t I sound like I do?

My little kid’s arm is abnormal.  He rode the bench for the first time last night, and I felt immensely proud of him.  He did go 2/3 at the plate, which pleased him no end, and he didn’t seem overly fazed not to play defense until it came time to trot out to first base during the first inning.  He looked as if a giant iron gate had slammed shut just catching the tops of his cleats on its way down, locking him out of the game.  He consciously had to sit his butt down, but he did.  Just like he was supposed to.  He said it felt weird, but he did keep his coaches entertained with his expert play-by-play.

Book Three

It didn’t kill me.

I’m three weeks into yoga, and I haven’t died.  I’m actually pretty good at it.  For a first timer.  For a forty-nine year old first timer, thank you very much.  Though it’s summer, my anxiety-riddled brain still races, and I am thoroughly amazed that I can find utter tranquility outside on a tennis court, surrounded by kids’ lessons and ladies who don’t exactly always call in/out entirely accurately.  Since my knees have determined my running career is done, I need to do something to keep my physical self in shape.  I’m not meant to be a thin person, but I prefer being thin to not being thin.  Plus I really like to eat.   On my first date with my husband, I told him that I wasn’t one of those girls who was gonna be all “Oh, I’ll just have a side salad and a Diet Coke.  I EAT, mister, and you have to be OK with that.”  Then I tore into a hamburger and fries, and it was pretty much love.  Obviously.

I can stretch and I can use my body to work against and for itself.  My son can’t do that, and I’m not finding quite the right metaphor here, but I’m going to keep moving somehow, and in some way.  Because I can.




Three Little Words

Not those three little words.  I present the three words no baseball mom ever wants to hear: Season. Ending. Injury.

OK, six: Little League Shoulder.

Little League Shoulder is a thing.  In the medical community, it’s scientifically known as proximal humeral epiphyseolysis. Little League Shoulder is caused by repetitive force across the growth plate ball end of the upper arm bone causing it to become irritated and sometimes widen, as you can see below.


Not long after opening day, during which he pitched his usual, consistent game, my son casually mentioned that he “threw out his arm” in gym class.  I actually chastised him a bit, scolding that he had no business gunning wiffle balls at such velocity in gym class.  I’m certain of a few things: 1) At 5′ 7″ he is by far the tallest, strongest kid in fifth grade, 2) He’s one of only two kids in his class who play organized ball and have any experience throwing an actual fastball, and 3) It’s something of a dick move to use an arm like his against classmates in a dodgeball-style playground game.  I’m not entirely sure I enlisted the phrase “dick move,” though I can’t exactly rule that out.

Shortly thereafter, he drifts into something of a batting slump.  He lacks the concealed-by-a-smiling-face-fire he’s usually possessed of at the plate, and strikes out a bunch.  A bunch.  A “good” outing maybe was a dink grounder that squeezed through or pop up.  His coach doesn’t have him pitch at that weekend’s tournament, and I’m relieved.  That Sunday, he lifted himself out of the slump by hitting one over the fence.  This is not the rarity it was at age 10, and though he’s eleven, he plays with 12-year-olds, many of whom look like they possibly drove to the games themselves after they shaved that morning.  Still, at age ten, eleven, twelve, a homer clears the dugout and lifts everyone’s, less the opposing pitcher’s, spirits.  It’s special.

He’s called to pitch again.  To say it was hard to watch is generous.  He was awful.  And I mean that with love.  He was awful.  My right-down-the-middle kid was skipping ’em a yard before the plate; he was sending air mail to Saskatchewan; he was walking in as many as hit him or as he hit with a pitch.  He looked befuddled by the lapse and felt like he was letting down his teammates.  He met the same fate the next time he was called to pitch, so thankfully his coach pulled him right quick that evening.  Last year, my kid was his coach’s go-to guy.  He was consistent, reliable, and for ten, quite unflappable.  Now?  He’s crumbling up there, looking to be on verge of tears at every throw.

He’s a giant, so he’s often the first baseman.  It’s a good fit for tall kids who mostly can catch the ball.  But they needed someone on third–a position he used to LOVE–so his coach sends him to play third.  He couldn’t make the throw to first.  Like not even close.  And we’re yelling at him to hustle, to get his head out of his butt, act like he’s got even a vague recollection of having played the game before.

And FINALLY, now like six weeks after the gym class incident, he admits what we surely know: I can’t throw.

So I take him to his pediatrician who has him go through a throwing motion, and she hears and sees the pop.  Not good, she observes.  She hypothesizes it’s a ligament problem, and refers us to sports medicine.  Sure, he can still play.  Give him ibuprofen before his games, slap some ice on afterward, and we’ll see what sports med turns up.  In the two weeks between those two appointments, he plays eleven games.  Plays conservatively, solidly at first base and has probably a .666 batting average during this run.  Maybe even .750.   My baby was en fuego.  He was.  And yeah, I’ll brag on him here because his bat was out of control.  You can’t help but smile when other teams’ coaches yell “back up!” to their outfielders.

Last Sunday he reveals that even tossing the ball around the horn between innings hurts, and his arm feels sore all the time.  *sigh*

I could sense that the sports medicine staff knew exactly what was wrong before he removed his shirt for the start of his functional assessment.  The x-rays confirmed “Little League Shoulder” and the doctor told my kid, “I really hate to be the bad guy here, but this is a season ending injury.   You cannot throw with an overhand motion until I clear you, and we’re looking at about 2-3 months before you’re back at full velocity.”  There were more words than that–the doc was an amiable and pretty cool guy, but that message was both the alpha and the omega.  My kid’s a junior power hitter, but even if you have but a passing acquaintance with baseball, you know that throwing is a rather key element in the game.  So no defense.

They described how physical therapy would play out, which made sense, and that REST and a follow-up x-ray was imperative before he could even begin PT. The doc asked if my son had any questions.  He stewed for a minute, but came back empty.  “You can’t throw” I said.  “You can’t play first even.  You can’t play defense.  Do you understand?”  He nodded that he did, and what did I do?  Yep.  Cried.  But only a little because I’m a badass baseball mom.

They remarked that his scapulae “winged out” a little, and I almost pooped my pants on the spot.  Naturally (well, naturally for crazy me) I jumped straight to FSHD, Facial-Scapular-Humeral Muscular Dystrophy.  Because during the past half hour I received not great news containing the words scapula and humerus.  And you guys?  I can’t even.  So I won’t.  Not today.

I spoke with his coach yesterday morning.  “Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” was my opener.  “Can he still hit?” was his reply, and I swear that kid (he’s 24 I think, and I don’t really think of him as a kid though I could totally be his mom) could not have chosen better words for me in that moment.  It made me laugh and warmed my heart to hear that his coach hoped his highest batting average hitter could keep hitting.  He has a soft spot for my kid, and though I know he’s not supposed to, I love that he does.  Pretty sure he had some notion about the shoulder thing anyway, having pitched through college himself before destroying his own shoulder.  Yeah, he can still hit.  You may have to tape his arm to his side in the dugout, but he’ll be there to finish out the season.

He’s part of a team, and you don’t quit on your team.

Maybe that is the moral of the story here–that you don’t quit on your team, you contribute in the ways you can.  Or maybe it’s that you REALLY have to tune in to your children, because they will NOT admit to the severity of a weakness if they think they might let you down.  Every time until the very end, when we or his coaches asked, my kid said he was fine.  “No, I’m OK” was his refrain until he really wasn’t–and really?  He wasn’t from the first moment he injured his arm. Eleven-year-olds don’t understand that childhood injuries can mean chronic pain as adults–how could they possibly?  Eleven-year-olds want to have fun, they want to hit the ball and cross home plate.

Please, whatever you do to send good will to the world?  Send up a little wish, prayer, intention, ray of light that the moral of the story isn’t that we were given an early sign of another form of neuromuscular disease.  I want to keep our record at .500 here.




Bottom Of The Ninth

Insert any “end of the road” metaphors you like here; my #baseballmom summer has drawn to a close. The kids played their final tournament this weekend, and walked off the field as one team for the last time yesterday afternoon. I love everything baseball, from pee-wee T-ball through the minors and majors, but currently I love most that my kid loves the game.

I knew I’d be sentimental and teary-eyed at season’s end, and I’ve proven that I am a fair, honest judge of myself.  I’m relieved at a brief reprieve from a 4+ day a week commitment, not gonna lie here. But I’m such a sap.  The boys’ season was short on tallies in the “W” column, but by the grace of a one day window along with a fleeting memory, I’m loath to measure the season by W-L count alone.

Of the many wins and lessons this summer, I give you these:

  1. Clutch pitching counts when a game goes into extras, California Rules style  (yes, it’s a thing and it’s quite a jolt to the system).  Most of us aren’t pitchers, but all of us can try to come through when it matters.
  2. MVP designations are awesome.  Be someone’s MVP.  Be the best whatever you are–nurse, reservations clerk, or financial planner you can be.
  3. Dugout dance parties, and yes, even on-diamond dance parties (it was the last game, OK?) are a fun, sometimes necessary release.
  4. You put in the time in the off-season to make each season your personal best.
  5. Hitting your first over the fence home run is the most kick ass thing there is.  Period.
  6. Bringing your family together united in purpose is time well spent.
  7. Being with other families together united in similar purpose is time well spent.
  8. Genuinely enjoying the company of the other baseball moms and dads is a gift. This season would have been sooooo long if not for the company of the parents, kids and coaches I got bleacher butt with. April-July four days per week is a long stretch, and I’m thankful I stretched with decent, caring people.  Thank you for the laughs and your many kindnesses.
  9. Being recruited by an opposing coach is a pretty special compliment. “Who is this kid and where are his parents?” is a huge boost to any child, right?
  10. Be the kind of kid other kids can count on. It’s hard to live up to every expectation, and my son’s size makes him seem like a veteran he’s not. He still made bonehead plays and struck out like anyone else.  Remember that the best of the best are considered excellent when they’re successful at the plate about 30% of the time.
  11. Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.  Henry Ford said it a century or so ago, but these words of wisdom did help my boy snap a slump.  “Hey, E, you got another triple in there for me this afternoon?”  “Yeah.  Totally.”  Love that boy.
  12. A for reals hand shake and a special exchange with your head coach after the dugout was cleared for the last time means a tremendous lot to an emotional 10-year-old and his emotional mother.  Thank you, Will. Thank you so much for this moment.
  13. Endings are hard.

Win or lose, endings are hard.  Being part of a team requires a huge investment, but its returns are many.  It’s OK to be sad that it’s over; it’s OK to hug your mom extra-tight and let the tears flow.  Yes, there’s “We’ll get ’em next year,” but it doesn’t mean a kid (and his mom. . .) can’t take a moment to recall the highlights, the new friends, to lament the coulda-shouldas and be both a little happy and a lot sad that it’s over.   I’ll be gone for a few days now.  As any true #baseballmom knows, you don’t take vacation until the last out of the last game is called.  It’s called commitment, people. Let’s call this post my bottom of the ninth walk-off.


Being a baseball mom has been as near to a second full time job as I’ve had.  I have long loved the game, having grown up with a brother who played through college and a dad who coached him from tee ball through what was known as county league (age 12ish).  T-shirts proclaim “Baseball is Life” and that is correct.  Baseball is an individual and a team sport, so even if the team’s record isn’t so hot, there are still ways to feel accomplished as well as clear indicators of an individual’s weaknesses on the diamond.  My son has had a couple hero moments; he has choked; he has pitched perfect innings and he’s erred egregiously.  Individually and as a member of a team, my son has learned much so far this season, as have I.  Let me share with you a thing or three about this mom’s observations from the bleachers.

There is no generosity like that of your teammates.  I neglected to pack my kid’s cup (for the uninitiated, that’s not a drinking cup, it’s a plastic insert for boys’ athletic supporters) for the weekend-long tournament in the Wisconsin Dells, Waterpark capital of the world and tourist TRAP. Tourist haven?  You pick.  I panicked upon realizing it early the morning of the first day of play.  Being in a tourist town, I’d doubted we’d find a sporting goods store, so I asked some of the other parents if they knew anything about area shopping.  Good old #27 offered up his spare cup for my kid, ’cause he’s better prepared and carries an extra.  We ended up not needing it, thank you MC Sports, but that he offered?  Thanks a lot, kid, you’re awesome!  He really is a good kid: Exhibit A, jock sharing. And also, eewwww.

It is a genuine joy watching your child do something he loves.

My kid is a giant among 10-year-olds.  I now keep a copy of his birth certificate in my purse in case opposing coaches think he’s actually a 14-year-old ringer.  He also has a really low voice (it’s because he has a super flat hard palate, so sound doesn’t have much space to resonate), and his coach feels like maybe they could hit the bars after a game some night, and he’d probably not get carded.

Going yard, hitting your first one over the fence, is a milestone.  Hitting a home run is something every kid dreams of, and my kid’s dream came true in June.  The best part was not the hit, though it was sa-weeeeet; nope, the best part was his teammates descending upon home plate as he rounded third base.  After #9’s little brother shags the ball, you discreetly pocket it until the umpire asks for it back.  You begrudgingly toss it back  into play, adopting your best “Seriously??” and pained, devastated expression until they do in fact let you keep it.  Good call, Blue!


See, you keep this.


Taking one for the team–getting beaned–is part of the game.  10-year-olds don’t intentionally hurl bean balls at their opponents, and there is some measure of maturity in tagging a batter, and continuing to pitch with composure.  Here’s what bean balls look like on the receiving end:


I HATE when people post photos of their surgeries and injuries.  I’m one of those people now, but this is to illustrate for you, in case you weren’t sure, what the circumference of a baseball is. It’s educational.


You can be by far the oldest of all the team parents and still feel like one of the girls.  #baseballmoms?  We get one another.  I’ve met moms and dads whose paths I’d otherwise have never crossed, and I’ve so enjoyed their company.  They comprehend the crazy that envelops you during the season because they’re equally enveloped in it.  No one knows how to pack a day’s cooler better than a baseball parent.

Baseball is life, but life is more than baseball.  I have two children, and sometimes you must pick which kid is that day’s priority.  Sometimes you go a different direction and learn on Facebook that your kid hit his second homer because another #baseballmom tags you in a FB post.  Thanks, Amy!   The second homer will never be known as the second homer; it’s forevermore the homer you weren’t there for.  #baseballmomguilt  I’m starting a new hashtag trend, and I think it’ll get traction.  Every #baseballmom will understand.

This one is all courtesy of my dad.  Well, actually it’s courtesy of a 90s-era Nike commercial, but this is grandpa wisdom imparted to the 10-year-old post home run:  “Chicks dig the long ball.”  Oy.  Watch the commercial here. It’s absolutely worth the minute plus of your time, and be sure to watch to the very end.

Also courtesy of my dad via the cinematic baseball classic, Bull Durham:  You throw the ball.  You catch the ball.  You hit the ball.  FYI, those things aren’t always as easy as text would lead one to believe.

Players whose names start with E have a higher percentage of people yelling the first part of their names than do those whose names begin with the rest of A through Zed.  “Come on, E” rolls of the tongue.  Don’t ask.  It just does.  You just mentally yelled it out loud, didn’t you?

I don’t know the source of this one, but it goes something like this:  the only thing that comes close to playing baseball and winning is playing baseball and losing.

At times I’ve felt challenged by the time commitment, but I know as surely as I know my name that I’ll feel locked out at season’s end.  I get why professional athletes say that cleaning out their lockers is the hardest part of the season.  Win or lose, there’s a group identity.  My kid is the big one with the voice, their consistent, reliable pitcher.  #9 is the aggressive guy all over the diamond; the guy you count on to stop the ball no matter what and to ignite with late inning rally RBIs.  #27 is the one complimented by other teams as being so nice, never without a smile on his face.  #12 is one tough little dude behind the plate allowing very few passed balls.  #3 is Flash–no one you want more on the bases when the game is close.  He WILL advance.   Each kid is his thing, and after this month, this same bunch of twelve kids will never play together as a unit again.  That is the way life goes, and there’s a big life lesson herein.  We grow, growth inspires change, there’s always next year, and all that.  It’s all true.  Doesn’t mean I’m ready to slam shut the door just yet though.

So Where Do You Keep Your Extra Toilet?

Because we are poor planners, insane? overachievers?  All and/or none of the above??  Because we are in the midst of home renovations, we find ourselves with very little in the places you’d expect things to be.  Dishwasher?  Tucked away in a cloud of dust in the corner of our dining room with a snippet of pink fiberglas insulation atop.

Where else would it go?  Range and coffee makers?  Obviously they’re in the basement.  The Sawzall is also in the dining room, and two ladders, 6 empty paint cans, and two buckets of drywall compound are in the otherwise barren kitchen.  But my favorite misplaced item sits at the foot of my bed.

You didn’t believe me, did you?  You thought I was exaggerating, right?  I opted not to edit this photo because there’s no way to polish and pretty this up. Plus, now you can see that the kids get their laundry skills from their dad.

Yes, I have an empty, umplumbed toilet NEXT TO MY BED.  And not in the “Awesome!  I don’t have as long to go for those wake you up in middle of the night potty needs” way.  No, no.  See, it’s not connected to anything, and really, it would be pretty weird to have a random toilet just kinda out there in the middle of a room, don’t you think?

I have a toilet at the foot of my bed because it goes with the new bathroom vanity, which sits against the wall across from my bed.  I am not making this up.

Getting back to the beginning here, we are the wackiest kinds of home remodelers.  You move into a new/old house, determined to gut your sunflowery kitchen within the first year, except you’re pregnant with your second child when you move in, and your toddler is exploring his two-ness in great depth and with studied intensity.  Instead you do the quick fixes–paint the living and dining rooms because dirty, white walls?  Blah.  Boring walls with mauve-painted crown molding?  What the what??  Then you (and by “you” here I mean my husband because I can’t even work a damn screw gun.  I can tear shit out, but cannot put thing one back together) engineer and install a family room in the basement.  Next you replumb everything from the basement up because you need to redo the main bathroom, but you can’t live in a home without a means to bathe, so you add a master bath in your bedroom.  No, this is not the first time I’ve had a toilet in the middle of my boudoir.  Years later, voila!   (Look at me all speaking French and stuff here)  You have a second shower, and now you can get crackin’ on that main bathroom.  Hold, up!  How about instead of that bathroom, you gut and re-tile the powder room off the kitchen?  But hey fellas?  Don’t tell your wife you’ve completely gutted it, or even thought of gutting it until she’s home from a week with the kids at her brother’s.  That’s the best plan.

Life has a way of mucking up our best laid plans, and I’m flexible like that.  Plus I like to laugh, and my life is filled with high hilarity.  No, really, I actually mean that one–I do like to laugh because why woudn’t you?  Life’s too short for seriousness 24/7.  The only reason we finally dove into the kitchen reno was that our downstairs fridge went.  Remember old Harvest Gold?  Goldie’s demise led to my insistence on a kitchen reno. If you need a road map to financial stability, a full on kitchen tear out and custom design is super financially savvy.  It’s obviously way smarter than buying a new fridge for the actual kitchen and moving the existing one downstairs for the fun stuff and extras that don’t fit.  Go, Wendy.  Ah heck, it was legitimately time, and we’ll never have enough money to do it anyway.  Might as well do it now, because in a year it’ll be yet another couple grand, right?   Exactly.

So I have a random toidy in my bedroom because the main bathroom is finally tiled, painted and the tub reglazed.  It’s really quite lovely.  I must say, Tom and I have exceptional taste in tile and colors (and thanks to the dude at The Tile Shop, we have a nice low/no-skid slate floor to account for my big kid’s instability).   All that’s lacking is the finish plumbing.

He’s coming back when the kitchen is ready to be rigged up, and oh, THANK YOU VERY MUCH stupid kitchen contractor for pushing our start date back another week.  If you can’t tell that’s sarcasm there, we really need to talk, friends.  I get that we’re not one of their $100K jobs, but you know what happens to nice guys like us.  Wait, that’s not helping.  I’ve got to sit down and think about this–If only I had a seat in my bedroom just to be and to ponder.  Hmmmm.

Best.  Twelve.  Years.  Ever.

This post was brought to you by the 2nd Annual Hitters Baseball Tournament at Infinity Fields.  We’re on rain delay.  Hour 5.  Super excited I woke up at 5:15 AM to hit the pause button ad infinitum.  The kids played their best defensive game yet yesterday, hanging in with THE team to beat.  Boy did they underestimate our guys!  I’m looking forward to them keeping their momentum today.  My kid’s the starting pitcher and he couldn’t be more excited.  Go, MBA!

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

No, not that one.  My most wonderful time of the year is waaaaay more festive, y’all.  It’s better than Christmas, my birthday and my own personal holiday all bundled into one for me. It’s the Last Summer on Earth. Again.  Turns out that ancient Mayan calendar?  Not so much.

I’m an extremely time-aware person, but this snuck up on me.  The past two months have seen my calendar filled with commitments 4-7 nights per week, and I’m what you might call at the end of my rope, with a weak-ass grip at that. I am trying to keep my good fortune at the forefront of my consciousness as each of these myriad activities is 1) something I sought for my family or myself, and 2) something that reflects scratch-battled hard work and/or an innate gift not to be wasted.

My band went on tour again Friday.  They go on tour and I go on tour–my tour is considerably shorter–3 or 4 to their 30-something or so shows, and I don’t get in front of an audience (but that’s only because I’m not a famous musician or songwriter, and I don’t play guitar, bass or drums, and it would be weird standing up there just kinda looking happy, but dang, I wish I had a talent that could land me there).  Nope, I get behind the wheel of my mobile concert stage Ford Edge, and tour the Midwest.  For the first time in our three year history, every one of the #Ladiesladies will be at one show together.  People ask how we met, and it sounds insane, meeting via the internet sounds insane, right?  It’s not.  Maybe it would have seemed kinda off center to 2012-era Wendy, but not now, with our shared history.  I clicked with my friends immediately.  I get to spend a couple days in Chicago and Detroit with the only other group on the planet who doesn’t think my musical obsession is weird. They also don’t even think it’s an obsession–again, for those of you new here, it’s a concentrated hobby.  Sounds more gentle and reasonable, can I get an ‘amen-ah’?


The last time I road tripped to meet up with my tribe, we counted it down to the second.  We had a detailed itinerary involving multi-state and international travel.  There was cake, and snacks and beverage representing each of our hometown’s specialities to be shared.

This time?  I’m so overwhelmed with work, baseball, MDA camp preparations, and that darn (and fabulous) kitchen renovation that this LSOE is, holy crap, THIS WEEK!!  I haven’t done a thing.  I don’t even have a yellow shirt to wear (sorry, Ketchup, next time!), and I haven’t even been able to keep up on our message threads.  OK, sure you’re thinking, well Wendy, you seem to have found the time to log a little something here on your stupid blog, you could at the very least read a message or pack a bag or something.


Found this beauty on

I’m so excited to see my girls, it nearly overshadows the anticipation of seeing my Ladies.  Did I say that out loud?  (You’ll get it if you know me. . .).


This.  All of the above.

I’m afraid though that I am going to be the odd one out this time.  I’m laser-focused on the fact that my kid is going to his first sleep-away camp, and *clears throat* he’s going solely because he has muscular dystrophy.  There aren’t enough o’s in soooooooooo to describe how so very excited I am for him to have this opportunity, but (broken record moment) I wish he didn’t have to have it.  Instead of ordering a fun outfit to wear to the show, I’m online ordering my son a Harley-Davidson t-shirt because there’s a Harley night at camp and his prep notes said to wear Harley gear.  I told him he could wear orange and black, which I felt would probably cover the bases.  He insisted on the real deal.  We are not Harley folks, but how could I say no to him?  He wanted to fit in, and instead of bursting out in tears, I hit up Amazon Prime.  BTW, thanks to the generous Harley riders taking the campers out for their spins.  It’s a really terrific thing you’re doing.

Baseball has been a four-night-per-week thing for the last several months, and I’m thrilled for my son.  He has some super teammates whose parents I genuinely enjoy.  That’s a gift.  They’re not a highly competitive bunch in the way of the wins and losses, and I tell myself there is something like grace or class one develops when one learns to lose decently.  At this weekend’s tournament, my little guy pitched the last three innings, and had to hold the opponent back from a top-of-6 rally.  He did and they did.  And there’s nobody better on the bases in the bottom of 6 than his teammate Flash, who stole home for the winning run.  After the game, my son threw himself around me, and began to cry.  “Are you crying because you didn’t hit last ups?” I asked him.  Head shake no.  “Are you crying because you won?”  He nodded furiously and hugged me harder.  You can be a graceful loser and still cry 10-year-old tears of joy when you win.  It’s OK.

After the baseball tournament, instead of stalking Twitter for Barenaked Ladies tour updates and set lists, I spent my afternoon writing my older son letters to be delivered to him at camp.  More to come on that later.  It’s an exercise in anachronism of a sort–writing letters today to be sent with him to camp next Sunday and given to him throughout his week away.  I’m just out of time.  Out of time in the way everyone thinks, but also out of time/sync–I’m not present these days.  I haven’t savored the lead-up to my concerts.  I have worried about my son’s camp.  I have worried about baseball and MDA camp and piano lessons and band concerts and work presentations and parent meetings and everything else under the sun.  I’ve felt guilt at leaving my kid days before his big camp send-off (though I WILL be home before we deliver him to Camp Wonderland) and at every other thing I have done less well than I’d like to.  But now?

Now I think I shall grant myself permission to have some fun.  I’m going to give in to the new live album.  I’m going to let the road trip begin to take over reason, replace it with abandon, and sing and dance my ass off.  I’m going to hug my friends, cry my own tears of joy, and tears of sadness when it’s over.  But it ain’t over, ladies and gentlemen, nuh-uh.  This weekend is exactly what I need.  I’m in charge of margaritas.  Has there ever been a more fun sentence to write than that??  PS–Tyler, Jim, Kevin, Ed–I know you’re dying to play When I Fall Thursday and maybe Friday too, aren’t you?  #Ladiesladies, here we go!



Play Ball!

Evening two of the quote challenge finds me home alone.  It’s my little guy’s first baseball scrimmage game tonight (last week’s scrimmage got snowed out, not rained out, but cold and snowed out–yes, that happens here in Wisconsin in April).  I was already committed to a meeting at the kids’ school this evening, so after it and inhaling a bowl or two of cereal and picking up groceries minus saline solution–looks like I’ll be wearing the specs tomorrow–I’m home alone.  Being alone in my house is one of my favorite conditions, but I am missing being at the diamond.  Picture and text updates are a gift of modern times, but they don’t come close to being there.  Can I admit I’m a teensy bit relieved not to be a momsicle, out there freezing my keister off in the 38 degree Fahrenheit weather?  Only a teensy bit.  Really.

God, my kid loves the game!  

In the spirit of @thebaseballbloggess, I wish all you fastball-throwing, second base-stealing, catcher’s mask-flipping, sliding-into-home plate-beating-the-tag, bottom-of-the-ninth-walk-off-home-run-sluggers and fans a happy new year!

Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.

–George Will

You could be a kid for as long as you want when you play baseball.

–Cal Ripken, Jr.



On my  Day 2, I nominate the following bloggers for the 3-day quote challenge

The Baseball Bloggess

Winnipeg Arts Hearts and Smarts

The Road to There

If you accept, post 1-3 quotes for 3 consecutive days, and nominate 3 fellow bloggers to do the same each day.