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.

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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’?

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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.

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Found this beauty on laurieschechter.tumblr.com

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. . .).

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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!

 

 

“Come On, Wendy!”

Worked out that I’ve probably made a mistake for each thing I’ve done right. –Satellite

It’s a lyric from a song about love, which makes it sorta, but not quite fit for Mother’s Day.  As I often do, I found myself inspired to write something while in the shower this morning.  Don’t ask why cleanliness = creativity for me, but I often land upon solutions to my ills amidst the Proactiv and shave gel.  I really should investigate in some sort of technology which allows voice dictation under running water, because by the time I’ve dried off, I’ve often forgotten the brilliant story arcs begun there.  This one isn’t brilliant, but I’m gonna give it a go.

I’ve been a mom for 12 years, seven months and a few odd days now.  I am certain that I’ve screwed up something that matters on each of those days, but I also know I have to be doing something right.  My children are at least average in intellect and achievement, but more importantly, they’re well-behaved, decent children who respect boundaries and treat others with kindness.  Aside from the usual brotherly stupidity, they’re good to each other and understand our family is united in pursuit of happiness through hard work.  Mostly MY hard work and my husband’s, but we’re gettin’ there.

How did I know how to lead them in the direction of such traits?  I had some pretty good examples.  This morning’s shower epiphany came in the form of a flashback.  I’ve been sleeping poorly lately, and my neck and shoulder carriage hurt like a beast–an ugly, gnarled beast at that.  I was thinking how relieved I was to have neither baseball practice nor games today, and to have nothing but celebratory food and Mother’s Day flower-buying at the garden center on the agenda.  Immediately after giving voice (the voice in my head) to that thought, I felt guilty feeling relieved that I had no one to shuttle today.


I was the fastest kid in my grade during elementary school.  I never lost a 50- or 100-yard dash, not even once, and I was always the anchor on the sprint relays because I never stayed behind for long.  I was the first chair flute player in our grade school band, never second.  I continued these pursuits in high school, and added volleyball (at which I SUCKED, so that was a one-off) and cheerleading (I was the not cute, not skinny one who could jump and do splits in the air) to my roster.  My younger brother was all baseball all the time, unless it was fall football or winter basketball when those sports dominated our weekly calendars.  For a time, it was also fishing and archery for him.  We grew up in a small town, attended a small-town high school, and had many opportunities there that I likely wouldn’t have had if we lived in a larger city, I will grant that.  Don’t get caught up in my firsts–I was no luminary, then or now.  Just an extracurricular sort of busy kid because I practiced more than anyone else, and small towns allow that.  Big fish, small pond kind of thing for me.

My mom never missed an event.  Like ever.  We lived about 30 miles from where my mom worked as a nurse, and through some series of scheduling miracles and what must have been very little sleep, that woman made it to every single thing we ever did.  Somehow she managed, after working a full day at the hospital, to marshal the energy to drive all over southeastern Wisconsin chasing my brother and me, always with snacks and drinks of course, to watch her kids do what they did.  Every game. Every meet. Every concert.  She maybe didn’t arrive precisely at the first pitch or the 100-meter prelims, but she was there.  Every time. One of my most enduring memories of my mom is hearing her cheer for me while I was running.  Like her daughter, my mom isn’t known for her quiet, demure side.  I could be anywhere on any track in the Southern Lakes Conference, and I’d hear her scream, “Come on, Wendy” with a tone and at a volume I’ll never get out of my head.  As I cheer on my son now at his baseball games, it’s my mother’s voice coming through, not mine that I hear. “Throwin’ strikes, kid” or “Come on, kid, you’re due” transport me instantly to my middle school summers.  Who said that??  Oh, that was me. If I didn’t know better, I’d turn to look for her in the stands.

I never asked her to come, she just did.  Maybe I did ask, I don’t recall, but I didn’t have to. She knew that it mattered, and even if I just expected it, being the egocentric, jerky middle and high school kid I’m sure to have been, I’d have been wrecked if she didn’t.  I didn’t consider what she gave up to be there. She was a fixture.

I love watching my kid play ball. I enjoy them both performing at piano recitals, so I understand that she’d want to attend. Until now I couldn’t imagine how difficult it had to have been though to accomplish it though.  It’s hard when your time is not your own. It’s entirely and all-consumingly worth it, but it’s hard.  I couldn’t appreciate it until I walked in those same baseball cleats.

Three decades after my glory days, *cough, cough* I still hear her in the stands.  I hope that my boys, a few decades hence, understand the importance of being there. I wonder if my own mom worried she was screwing us up like I worry like that for my boys?  I wonder if she knows how much she got right?  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Maybe down the road, one of the boys will be showering one morning himself and think, “Remember how Mom used to sit on the third base line with her winter parka on, nestled under two blankets during baseball season?  I can still hear her: ‘Throwin’ strikes, kid’ and ‘You and the catcher, E.'”

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.

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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.