Summer angst 

Every summer I tell myself that I am going to hire a sitter who will come up with a huge game plan for the kids during the summer. I interview college kids and tell them my expectations. They all respond with positive affirmations like “that sounds wonderful “or “I love that idea “or “I have done that in the past and it works well”. But then the summer begins and the new sitter comes over and nothing falls into place in the way I expected it to weeks before. 

This year, both kids fell in love with the same sitter. In the past, they have had to bargain together because one of them liked one sitter and the other liked another sitter. They would go back-and-forth on the benefits and detriments of both of their choices and eventually land on one for the summer (typically Maria’s choose with some bribery on her part).. So this year, I was excited that they both selected the same girl. She seemed very nice and grounded during our telephone interview, and she seemed upbeat and chill  when she came over to the house. She studied Chinese and finance in college, and was getting ready for a full-time job starting in September. Her references stated that she was one of the nicest people they had met. The only issue they had with her is that she was “too nice.” Their kids loved her because she would let them do anything they wanted. So there lies my dilemma. This would probably be the last year that we have a full-time summer sitter. Jon and I had been seriously contemplating letting the kids be on their own next summer and just putting them in numerous camps, etc. So as much as I dreamed of a sitter who would have detailed plans for the week and get them to do 2 hours of homework a day, I also dreamed of a sitter that would have fun with the kids and who both kids enjoyed. Hence, why I decided to go with the girl both kids liked. 

And so far, it has gone well with our current sitter this summer, as far as the kids and her  getting along. However, I have gone a bit nuts through this summer with the lack of itinerary planned for the kids. The sitter quite enjoys watching TV with the kids and caves as soon as they start begging for anything. The upside is that if I tell her certain things must be done, then she will get them done. But that means that I have to spend time in the evening or in the morning writing down all of the things I want done. This would not seem to be a huge task but when I’m dealing with work, cleaning the house, tending to the kids and to the hubby, walking the dog, working out, that one more thing may just put me over the edge. 

I had dreams of the kids waking up in the morning and taking a walk with the dog, coming home and doing some workbook pages, engaging in a cool project together, hitting the pool, coming back to a siesta and reading their books for an hour, putting a book report together of what they read, starting a nonprofit to help needy children in the world, learning Spanish fluently…. ok, a bit much but a mom can dream.

A few weeks ago, I about lost my mind over   what the kids were doing (actually not doing) through the day. I called the house and heard the TV in the background. I asked my sitter how long they had been watching it. She responded that they had only watched a few shows. Only watched a few shows, I thought?! Are you kidding me? It is 80° outside and sunny and they are in there watching tv shows for hours on end? I came home that night, ignored the dishes and clutter, and wrote down a list of things the kids needed to do the next morning – dust, water the flowers, do workbook pages, read…. The next day those things were done, and I was happy. The following day I had no time to write anything down but I was still happy from the previous day’s accomplishments. Who knows what the kids did throughout the day. I began to fret about it but then I thought about my summers. I don’t recall my parents worrying about the amount of reading I was doing or buying me any workbooks during the summer. Rather, I recall watching Famoly Feud and Three’s Company and Family Ties.  I recall jumping on my bike and trying to find a friend to play with in the morning. I recall walking down to the carry out to get snacks with my girlfriend. I recall arranging and rearranging my stuffed animals in my bedroom. One thing I don’t recall – learning multiplication or reading 300 page novel. And now look at me. I’m not a Nobel laureate but I turned out ok. My kids will do the same. 

And since I’ve let go of my angst and worry about summer activities for the kids, I am able to appreciate all they’ve done.

1. Created their own lunches and made videos of the preparation.


2. Thought about activities they could do to earn money (babysitting, dog-walking and dog-sitting).

3. Started a backpack drive to get backpacks for kids in need. 

4. Went to play practice Tuesday through Thursday each week.



5. Dusted the house.

6. Watered the flowers. 

7. Completed workbook pages.

8. Read their books.

9. Started reading a book with me in the evenings (The Giver).

10. Babysat their cousin.



11. Cleaned their rooms.

12. Played with friends.



13. Swam and dove at the pool.


14. Visited the pet shelter and gave kittens love.


15. Coached a K-6 soccer camp with high school girls (Maria).

16. Got tutored (Maria).

17. Played in a basketball league (Mario).

18. Completed swim team (Maria).



19. Played in GBSA baseball and fast-pitch softball.


20. Went to basketball and football camp (Mario).

21. Went to Akita camp.


22. Visited their grandmas.


23. Watched a deer play with Rocco.


24. Learned how to fake fight each other. 


25. Played Clue and Monopoly.

26. Hit a neighbor’s pool party and Ri baked a killer 4th of July cake.


27. Watched fireworks in the car.


28. Played with cousins.


29. Biked to Tim Horton’s for donuts.


30. Drank lots of Starbucks.


31. Went to a church festival.


32. Tried out modeling (Ri).


33. Fell in love with Jake Paul (Mario).

34. Enjoyed Jeni’s.


35. Visited The Wilds and became mesmerized with an ostrich. 

36. Visited my work and played at the Barnes & Noble. 


37. Visited the Boathouse in Marietta on the River and ate ribs and pulled pork.

38. Ate at Skyline (one too many times)!


39. Rocked some heels at Robert’s lakeside wedding.


40. Learmed how to play Balckjack (his counselors taught him at camp)!


41. Hit The Beach water park and braved the slides and zip line with Ri.


42. Partied together at Lia’s wedding.

43. Ate s’mores and held baby chicks at the farm.


44. Made family meals together and ate on the patio.


45. Held family meetings to discuss the week ahead.

Not bad, and we still have a month to go. The kids are hoping we can add Kings Island to our list; I’m hoping we can add two more completed books:).

Busy but bountiful

This is how we rolled on Sunday morning.


Boys stuck together and girls stuck together. Ri wanted to roller skate and I wanted to walk to Stauf’s. Jon wanted his coffee and Mario wanted to hang with his dad (and score a cinnamon roll).  We ended up meeting each other on the Avenue. The boys were grooving to music as Ri and I talked about her school project – making bath balls. They ended up following us to Stauf’s because who can pass up Stauf’s?!

After Stauf’s, we hung together through one of Mario’s basketball games and then took Ri home so she could get to her soccer scrimmage. Jon and I watched Mario’s second game and then I drove back to watch the end of RI’s scrimmage. I made sure she got started on homework and then headed backwards up north to Mario’s championship game. He almost won it (and played so hard). 

We headed back home for some evening b-ball outside. Jon and I commented how we couldn’t wait for Spring while the kids played one-on-one and poked at each other. 


These days are busy yet bountiful. I want to ensure that they are not forgotten because I’m confident they will bring us comfort and joy when the kids have moved out, and Jon and I are playing our fifth round of Yahtzee on the back porch. 

What did you learn?

So just a day after I posted my last blog about giving the kids feedback on how they played during their games, I read this article. Life is about constantly growing and learning, right?
I love this approach. It isn’t off-putting like giving feedback may be to a kid who just listened to the coach drone on about the game for 15 minutes. It’s not accusatory like giving feedback about certain plays on the field. It allows the child to think through actions on the field and arrive at his or her own self-feedback. It also reinforces that we are all here to learn – in sport, in school, in relationships. We are far from perfect at any age, and need to embrace the constant quest. 

To that end, I think I will add this to my repertoire and ask myself this same question at the end of my days. 

“What did I learn in that meeting?

“What did I learn from giving that presentation?”

“What did I learn from chowing on that sheetcake at 11 pm?!”

I love to watch you play … But I also like to see you play well…!

We had a full day of sports yesterday. Ri had a double header softball game at 10 am, Mario had a two hour football game at 12:30, and Ri finished out the day with a soccer game at 3:30. I know, I know. All my friends with older kids remind me of how much I will miss these packed days when my kiddos are grown. And I know I will because I actually don’t mind watching them for hours straight on a weekend (as long as I can get my teeny workout in and I may wish they played a bit closer to Grandview but that’s about it). 

However, when I watch them play, I do expect them to give it their all. If I’m putting in the time to watch, they should put in the time to play hard. I was complaining to my girlfriend a few weeks ago about Ri not running up to the ball hard enough. I told her I felt bad because after Ri’s game I coached Ri and told her that she’s gotta concentrate on the ball ahead of her more. Ri responded flippantly “how about saying nice game, Ri?”  My girlfriend counseled me that I need to simply say after her game “I love to watch you play.”

After thinking about it more, I resolved to take my friend’s advise but add to it. I’m gonna tell my kids “I love to watch you play, and I also love to give you feedback on things I thought you did well and things to look out for next game.” That’s fair, right? Heck, that’s what I do with school work so why can’t I do it for sports? 

And so I did just that yesterday without too much negative feedback from either child. They were too high on their performances to give me any negative feedback: they both did amazing jobs in their games. Ri cranked out two strikeouts and a play at home. I got a bit of it on video for once. 

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Mario had two great runs in his football game and I scored big for getting them on video. He loved watching himself last night….


And then Ri finished the day with a shot in the goal form the right wing position. Her face was priceless after the shot went into the goal. I was too busy jumping up and down to capture it! But I did capture some smiling faces after the game.


So maybe my feedback after the “I love to watch you play” comment is working…or getting them so irritated that they take out their aggression on the field. Either way, I will take it.

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More soccer in the family

Mario played soccer at school recess after he broke his arm on New Year’s Eve. He used to only care for football at recess but with a bum arm, that’s impossible. So soccer it was for 6 weeks straight. 

He enjoyed it. 

A few times over dinners, he asked if he could play on Spring soccer. I told him I’d look into it. It so happened that I was picking him up at school one evening after a Kids Night Out function and one of the dads there asked me if Mario played soccer. I told him he had never played but was interested. And voila! The next day I got a Facebook message from a Kiwanis coach asking Mario to join them for practice. 

When I told Mario, he was charged up. 

When I told Ri, she cried.

Soccer has always been her sport. She’s worked her way up from Kiwanis to OCL and she’s proud. She loves the game. She does not want to share it with her brother. She worries that Mario will excel in it and become the “soccer star.” She broke my heart as she relayed all these emotions to me while getting ready for bed.

A part of me thought I should take Mario out of soccer. After all, he’s also playing flag football this Spring. But that’s not fair. And Ri needed to understand that we’d always love watching her play and it would always be her sport. 

Jon was out of town this week when Mario had his first practice. I took him up to it and dropped him off. Ri did not want to go. I went back home after walking Rocco and told Ri that I wanted her to walk up to Mario’s practice with me to pick him up. I bribed her with ice cream.

We arrived with ten minutes left to practice. They were scrimmaging. Ri and I watched Mario run the field. Ri didn’t say much for the first couple of minutes. Then, as Mario stopped the ball mid-field, she shouted:

“Go Mario! Get that ball and score!”

I melted. My girl – although not too happy about Mario’s choice to play “her sport” – still rooted on her brother to victory. Her heart is as big as the cosmos. And I know Mario heard her and ran harder to impress his big sis.

I told Ri that a reason he wanted to play was because he had seen her enjoy playing the sport so much. She has an influence on him as his big sis. She liked that thought. 

After practice, she begged me to take them to Target to buy him shin guards and a ball so that he’d beprepared for their next practice. The girl takes care of her little bro, no matter what.

   

Missing the chaos

Bike home. Take the pup for a walk. Take off work clothes and put on shorts and t-shirt. Bike to Mario’s practice. Say hi to moms and watch Mario make tackles. Leave practice to head to Maria’s practice. Say hi to moms and watch Ri kick the soccer ball. Gather up Ri and her girlfriends and bike them home. Eat random foods for dinner: cmhslice of ham, noodles, cereal, Klondike bar, peas. Make the kids brush teeth. Wrestle with them. Scold them to settle down. Tell them a funny story from when I was little. Rub their backs. Turn off lights. Let the pup out. Kennel him. Eat some chocolate chips. Wash face. Brush teeth. Go to bed.

Just like I thought my evenings would be twenty-five years ago when I daydreamed about life after college.

This weekend marks the end of practices and games (at least for another month when basketball starts). Ri has four soccer tournament games – two on Saturday and two on Sunday. The first one on Saturday starts at 8 am and it’s 35 minutes away. Ugh. 

But as hectic as life has been, I find myself melancholy at the thought of it all ending. It’s a blast watching Mario in his football pads blocking Hilliard kids from tackling the receiver. It’s thrilling watching Ri get the ball and kick it to her team mate. It’s much more fun than watching them do homework or play Minecraft on the computer. And it gets our family up and moving. Jon assisted coaching Mario’s team and went to nearly every practice and every game. The boys all looked up to him and Mario loved having him around. Maria loved heading to practice to see her friends and her coaches. I loved being able to walk the pup without Mario whining that I “always have to walk the dog” (even though he stares into the computer screen the entire time he whines). 

But it does get tiring doing it every night. Mario on Monday, Thursday, Saturday and/or Sunday. Ri on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and/or Sunday. 

It will feel strange to walk in the door from work and have no plans. Be able to look over homework. Talk about our days. Make dinner. Sit together. 

Ha, who am I kidding? It’s Fall: we will be riding our bikes to the park and heading to La Tavola for an ice cream dinner. Or Ri will head to the basement with her frozen dinner to watch Say Yes to the Dress. Or Mario will go down to Quinn’s and snack. Maybe we will sit down together in Winter. Wait, there’s sled riding and playing in the snow….

   
    
    
 

Soccer tournament madness

Jon and I got our first taste of mass soccer tournaments today, and I must admit that if we never had to go to another, I wouldn’t be too upset.  It is a madhouse with full parking lots, pop-up hot dog stands, people grazing the fields trying to find where their kid is playing, and sun beaming on you as you stand on the sideline.  Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if our team scored a goal or if Ri played a bit more but without those two things happening, I was ready to turn on the AC in the car and take a snooze.

I have a girlfriend whose son is on a select team and she has talked about traveling to his games in the past.  They go to Dayton, Cincy, sometimes Kentucky.  It sounds rather romantic; they all get in the car, drive down to the hotel, practice, watch the games, and head home.  I picture lots of laughing and talking and frivolity.  We traveled to New Albany – 30 minutes from Grandview -and a majority of the time Jon and I were bickering about the best route to take and where the field we were playing on was located (because there are a make-shift 40 fields, easily).  So much for my romantic notions.

Ri played her first game at 11:00 am and they got blown away.  I think that makes it especially difficult to watch, too.  The other teams seem way out of our league and they just dominate us.  This is Ri’s first year on this team, and she is still trying to figure out footwork and stealing the ball, much less dribbling down the field.  So it can be excruciating to watch at times.  By 12:30 when they ended, it was sunny and hot outside and we were all starting to show red shoulders and cheeks.  Ri and Henley wanted to go to a restaurant with AC.  As we tried to head out, we couldn’t find Henley’s mom.  We stood in the heat on the phone with her trying to figure out where she was in this maze of a place.  Meanwhile, Mario begged for a soccer ball and when we said no, he had his Mario fit throwing his arms around and biting his lip.  Maria whined about being starving.  Good times.  We finally found Henley’s mom and all of us squeezed in Jon’s truck to head to a restaurant.

IMG_2235 IMG_2237

The restaurant was supposed to be two miles up the road.  Yet, we only saw homes and vacant lots.  Lovely.  We had no choice but to keep heading down the road and we finally spotted a Subway – not exactly the “restaurant” we were hoping for but we only had an hour.  The Subway line was a mile long (ok, maybe not quite a mile) with girls and their parents who had the same idea as we did.  After 20 minutes standing in line, we got our subs.  What an experience.

We headed back to the fields and found our crew grilling out under a blue tent.  Some of the girls were running around playing tag and soccer but not Ri.  Her face was still red and she was not going to get out on that field and run around unless the soccer whistle blew and she was forced out by her coach.

Pretty soon, it was time to pack up and head to the yellow field for our next game.  We looked like nomads in the desert – struggling with our bags in the scorching heat.  Everyone looking a bit ticked about life.  How do parents do this every weekend?! We made it through the second game without a goal on our end, again, but quite a few for the opposing team.  The end of the game whistle blew and the parents rose up with new life in them.  Time to go home.

And how is that we can lose two games so badly yet still have one more game tomorrow?!