Fractured nose but not spirit 

And she took one to the nose on Sunday. The Universe had given her a break on blows to the head but decided she needed one to the slope of cartilage and bone on her heart-shaped face. Oh, my poor girl. But, as with everything, she took it like a champ.

Ri had not wanted to go to her softball double-header on Sunday morning. She has gotten really into soccer this season, and wants to concentrate all of her efforts on that sport. But Jon and I told her that she had committed to fall ball, and therefore, needed to finish out the season. In any case, there were only three more doubleheaders to play before the season ended. She obliged us and left in good spirits with Jon at 9:30 am for her games. 

I arrived near the end of the first game to see her get a hit to shortstop and thrown out at first. She walked over to where John and I were standing, and gave me a hug. “Did you see my hit, mom?” I told her that I had seen it and Jon chimed in that she got an earlier hit and made it to first. With those congratulated her and told her to get back over with her team. She rolled her eyes amusingly and skipped back over to her teammates. John left after the first game but not before getting her a big hug and telling her he loved her. Ri was excited because they had small packages of Pringles for snacks between the games. She sat with her teammates enjoying her sour cream and onion chips. 

Game two began shortly after the girls finished their snacks. I sat on the bleacher bench next to some friends. We were talking about the latest and greatest news and podcasts when someone yelled out “Maria got hit.” I looked out into left field and there she was curled up in a ball with five people surrounding her. I did not jump up immediately with the hopes that they were taking care of her and she was fine. But then someone said to me “she is bleeding pretty good, she may need her mom.” I hopped up and rushed out to see her. When I arrived, I saw a large pool of blood in the grass and four large washcloths soaked with my baby’s blood. It was coming out of her nostrils and from a gash on the top of her nose. Luckily, my girlfriend is a nurse and was able to both control the bleeding and calm Ri down. We were finally able to walk her off the field with washcloths under her nose to catch the continued bleeding. Once we hit the bathroom, the bleeding had slowed to the point Ri could hold a cloth up to her nose and it would not be drenched within seconds. She was so upset. I just knew she was cussing me out for making her go to the game. I was cussing myself out because now look at us – we were going to have to spend the entire day in the hospital and who knows if she’d play soccer again. Was there a way to turn back time?



Everybody was so helpful in gathering up Ri’s things and getting her to my car. We zoomed along the highway to the Utgent Care. Ri was so nervous; she did not want to get stitches. The girl who loves shots was worried about a few stitches.  The mind is a wondrous thing. She did not care at all about how she looked, all she cared about was not having to get those darn stitches. The team of medical folks got us in fairly quickly but then we waited for the doctor for quite some time.  I needed something to keep Maria’s mind occupied so we looked at the history of Elena on Instagram. Maria could do that once a day and never tire of it.


The doctor finally strolled in and took a look at Maria. She was friendly and answered all of Maria’s questions. The first question being “will I need stitches?” She answered the way Maria wanted her to with a resounding “no.” It was as if Maria had been carrying 100 pound weights on her shoulders and someone had lifted them off her. She felt around Maria’s face and neck and looked into her nose, and declared that she did not think it was broken. Thank goodness! She gave us direction on how to care for her nose over the coming weeks, and did talk about the possibility of a scar where her gash was located. Ri could have cared less about anything she was saying – not about the scar, not about any  deformity – all she cared about was that there was no stitches. 

We were excited to be able to leave. Maria had a date with her girlfriend to hold puppies that had just been born three weeks ago (Maria was addicted to them, and had spent most of the weekend holding them with her girlfriend). I was hoping to hit the tail end of Mario’s football game. 

But then the door creaked open, and the doctor poked her head inside. “I am going to have to order an x-ray just to make sure her nose is not broken. They should be in soon to get her.” My stomach dropped. I kept thinking “if the doctor did not think it was broken then she is most likely correct, right?” Oh, I did not want Ri to deal with a broken nose. Ri, true to form, was only concerned about those stitches. She asked whether a broken nose would require stitches. 

We got the x-ray and waited. About 45 minutes later, the doctor walked back in the room. She was smiling – that’s a good thing, right? As she smiled, she told us that Maria did have a fracture in her nose. Seriously? How are you going to smile while getting that news? While I viewed about the disjuztaposition of the doctor’s cues, Maria asked her “well I need stitches?” The doctor answered in the negative, which is all Maria I needed to hear. I could hear her on the inside saying “who cares if I have a broken nose, if my nose will be out of whack, if I have a huge scar, all I want is for no stitches!”

I felt a bit of a relief when the doctor informed us that the fracture may very well heal on its own. She thought that there was more of a chance that it would heal on its own then we would have to get surgery. That was the best I was going to do for the day and so I took it and ran with it. And so they came in and cleaned up Maria’s gash, gave us some tips on treatment, and told us to continue to keep an eye on the shape of her nose as the swelling went down. 


Maria made jokes on our way home, and begged to go to her friend’s house to see the puppies. You would not of thought that she just suffered a broken nose. Later in the evening, when she returned from her friends house, she did start to feel a little puny. I gave her Tylenol and a massage. She was asleep by 8:45 PM. When I came downstairs, I found a get-well note signed by her teammates as well as the $5 bounty the coach gives to the player that played best during the game. I also received a delivery of frosted animal crackers from Ri’s girlfriend (she knows Ri well). After times like these, I am always reminded of how great of friends Ri and I have in the community. 


The next morning, Ri woke up in a great mood. Surprisingly, and who’s had not swelled up beyond belief. It was definitely better but not as big as Jon and I thought it would be. She begged to play in her soccer game that evening but Jon and I nixed it. She was mad at first but then reasoned “if I can’t play 100%, then I really don’t want to play anyway.”  She sent me s text during the day informing me that her nose “didn’t look that bad.” She partied it up with her teammates on the bus ride to the soccer game and wanted to stay to watch the boys play after her game. She likes to ride the bus home with her teammates and the boys soccer team because they sing and act silly. She could’ve cared less that she had a big old broken nose going on. 


She came waltzing through the door at 8:30 at night singing and laughing and yelling “what’s up??” I asked how the game was and she explained that they lost. She said at one point somebody was complaining that they had a headache and she said “I looked at them and said ‘I feel your pain girl, look at this nose of mine!'” Damn, how I love our girl’s self-deprecating style. she can roll with some serious punches. I am not quite sure that Mario or many other kids would have such a great sense of humor and positive attitude in the same circumstance. 

But let’s not find out anytime soon. 

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:).

Softball/baseball Wrap Up!

We officially hit the end of baseball and softball season last night. Four weeks straight of pretty much a game every evening, if not two. Four weeks straight of hot dogs, chips, famous Amos cookies, and orange pop. Four weeks straight of up and down moods based on how much sleep the night before, how much activity the day of, how much irritation at the thought of homework the following day.

Maria ended with a bang. Who would’ve thought that this ragtag group of girls would make it to the championship game? I was busy just getting them to talk to one another and cheer for each other during the game. But something clicked midway through the season and I heard girls that I had never heard before rooting for their teammates. I had girls that had never caught a ball catching flies in the outfield. It was amazing. Maria rocked out pitching for us this year – I basically had her and a fifth grader to get us through the season. She stepped up. She also got her bat around well this year. And last but not least, she was the voice of the team, as always. I think that’s why the shy, quiet girls on the team finally began to speak – they were worried of the wrath of Maria! Ri possesses the ability to get people to smile and to engage and maybe get out of their comfort zone for a while. That is because she can so easily act silly and goofy and wild without a care about what anyone thinks. 

She riled up the girls for the semi championship game, which led to a decisive win over the opposing team. The girls were so excited. 


However, me and my assistant coach were a bit less excited just because we were playing a team that can bring a bit of drama to the game. I learned a great deal about my personality over the two day period between winning the semi-championship and playing in the championship. I could not believe how sick to my stomach I was in that 48 hour period – second-guessing myself, worrying I hurt people’s feelings, concerned that people may be upset with me. Just throw me back to my childhood because that’s where all this crap began. I had at least 50 come to Jesus talks with myself over that short time period but it wasn’t until after the game that I began to feel less stressed. A huge lesson for me for the future – I am allowed to take a stance and I am allowed to have people be upset by it. Not all of my viewpoints are going to be loved. 

We ended up losing the championship game. I was surprisingly relieved after all the tension leading up to it. I would usually be madly disappointed but I wasn’t this year because of all the angst prior to the game and because I was mindful of my group of girls who gained experience and skill and had a most wonderful season together. They knew how to have fun. You would have thought we won the championship by the way they were laughing and playing and goofing around. 


Mario’s team got to the championships, too. They played a nail-biter of a game against the number one team in the league to win the semi-championship. Mario played his heart along with the rest of the kids. He had a killer nab at shortstop with a bullet of a throw to first. He also pitched like a rock star. I was so proud of him and so happy for him and his teammates. They were on cloud 9. 


They did not catch a break in the championship game; they hit line drives but they went straight to an opposing player. The other team hit line drives on the gaps in the field. There was nothing to do about that; it’s simply a matter of luck. Mario was upset as were his teammates. There were tears. There was anger. But they still got second place trophies and within twenty minutes were all feeling better and ready to move on. I told Mario over and over that no matter if he won or lost, he’d forget about it twenty minutes later. I think there’s a study that confirms you bask in your glory for about 15 minutes and then you are back to usual. 


We had Gio with us that night so I told the boys we could take a bike ride to Jeni’s and Mario was fine. 

What will I do next year now that Maria will play for the middle school team and I can’t coach her? Watch out Mario…:)

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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What a dad will do.

So I came up with the bright idea to use a tarp as a slip-n-slide in order to try to teach my softball girls how to slide. We placed it out on the front lawn, added dishwashing detergent, and sprayed it with the hose. I think I may have seen one actual legitimate slide by one of the girls. The rest was nonsense. But well-earned nonsense after winning their last two games.


Maria was scared half to death to slide. I don’t blame her – the bumps in the grass hurt like heck when you hit them. The other girls were running and sliding on their knees or head first though so Ri felt the need to keep up. But when she couldn’t allow herself to get down on the tarp, she got upset and cried. Jon and I kept reinforcing to her that she didn’t need to try it or if she wanted to try it, to start it slow and just place a leg down first. She kept trying but then stopping. Finally, Jon knew what to do. He told her that he’d slide if she would. Her eyes widened. She was in. She tried again and again until she finally did a half slide. We told Jon it was good enough for him to have to go through with his bet. 

And so he did.


He didn’t get too far but he did it. We all laughed hysterically, and Ri was smitten. Her dad usually would not engage in such antics but he did for her to get her to overcome her anxiety. I think she clearly understood and appreciated this very point, and as we all belly-laughed, she looked over at him and gave him a wickedly sweet smile.

Take me out to the ball game…again and again and again.

The beginning of Summer break has consisted of baseball, softball, and more softball. We should be used to this chaos that lasts from Memorial Day through the first week of July since I’ve been coaching Ri’s team for the last three years and Mario’s been playing baseball during that time, but this year feels different. I think it’s because Mario’s games are more exciting due to him making great plays and big hits, and Ri’s games are exhilarating between the sliding and the third-dropped-strike rule. I am a nut job during Ri’s games trying to watch for the dropped strike, the runner stealing, the fake bunt…. 

Mario looks like a pro baseball player in an eight year old body. He is in position before every play and in the batter’s box swinging away before he gets up to bat. He loves baseball this year. One reason why: he’s the oldest on the team this year. He’s one of four second graders. The rest are first graders. And he is one of the best players on the team. Hence, super stardom at every game when he makes an out or gets a hit. And he’s been making them like mad. He got all three outs on numerous occasions. He’s hit quite a few doubles. And his face is priceless when he gets an out. He hears the cheers but he just keeps on his game face and stares straight ahead. Mr. Cool.


And holy cow, Maria! She has stepped it up to the nth degree this year. The first game, she caught two fly balls. Jon and I stood with mouths agape, so proud of her. And unlike Mario, she shows her enthusiasm. She smiles as wide as the outfield and does a little dance shuffle. It is so sweet. I keep wanting to get a picture but since I’m coaching, I have no ability to think about a snapshot. Strategize, strategize, strategize.

Jon and I are both so impressed with Ri. She has made nearly every catch thrown to her. I’m playing her at first base and she is covering it like a glove. She’s completely aware and ready during the games. She moves. It’s a beautiful thing that was not seen much by any of the girls last year. This year is a different ball game. 

I hit the jackpot with my team this year, too. All the girls root each other on and have a great time together. I have a sixth grader from another school who is a star pitcher and batter. She’s got a heckuva arm and hit one to the fence the other night. But she is the most humble and considerate girl. She cheers on the other pitchers who are struggling to make it over the plate. She gives tips to the girls up to bat. She never whines or gets mad when we lose a game. She’s been an awesome 6th grade leader. Ri has gotten close to her over the past few weeks and looks up to her. Ri has stepped up to lead the team as well. It helps that she has her mother’s lungs and so it’s easy to scream for the girl up to bat or pitching on the mound. 

Ri cranked it the other night as pitcher. She had not been happy with her pitching a couple of games back. She had gotten some walks and gotten hit on a few times. She looked at me several times and whispered “pull me.” Yea, I’m serious. The girl gets really frustrated, really quickly. We are trying to work with her to calm her emotions down and take deep breaths. It’s the only way she will be able to pitch well, much less have fun with the game. I’m so happy to have Jon near me doing the scorebook because he’s able to grab her when she’s upset and talk some sense into her (or give her a wet willy). 

I took her out to the front yard before our game this past Monday to throw with her. She started to get angrier and angrier with each minute because she was throwing balls and only a rare strike. After ten minutes, she threw her glove down and ran inside. She was hysterically crying and telling me she could not play. She didn’t want to lose. She didn’t want to mess up. She was hugging me and sobbing. I felt so badly for her and was worried because I had not seen her act like this before. After a few minutes, she settled down and laid her back against the kitchen wall. I rubbed her back and got her water. After some breathing exercises, we drove down to the game. She jumped out of the car – completely unphased by the past twenty minutes –  and chatted it up with her teammates while they watched the remainder of the game before us. 

I put her on first base the first inning and she made an out. When she came in for the bottom of the inning, she said she wanted to pitch. I told Jon if she started to flip out, I’d have to pull her. But what did she do? Threw strikes and caught a pop up ball to get out of the inning with no runs scored. She was so charged up. And the next inning, she hit a double! Oh, the intense feeling of joy you get when you see your daughter in her element and so happy. I was at once relieved and excited and proud. She had a heck of a night. I think melt-downs pre-game may need to occur in the future….


As hectic as June is with baseball and softball, Jon and I would not change a thing. It is a treasure to be able to watch our kids play hard and achieve new feats (as well as learn how to deal with the hardship of a missed play or loss). And I get the added boost of being able to coach a group of girls who love the game and want to learn and succeed. Couldn’t ask for a better start to the summer.

Season Opening

Grandview turns into Mayberry on the Saturday before Memorial Day. Folks line up lawn chairs and place tiny American flags on their lawns. 1st Avenue is lined with cheerful kids extending out their hands to catch candy thrown from cars and trucks. Parents sip on their beverages and wave at friends walking in the parade. 

Grandma Ionno came in town to ride with Jon in my dad’s truck. 


Jon was charged to be to drive Ri and her softball team in the truck. He was super protective of it for my dad’s sake. A boy threw a bouncey ball at it and Jon warned him not to throw things at the truck. Ri loves that story. Mario was in a separate truck with his teammates, and talk about pelting things at trucks…. I left it to his coaches to discipline Mario and his crew; I had enough on my hands keeping my team from throwing out all the candy in the first two blocks. 


Jon dropped the girls off at the field and we all lined up for the opening ceremony. We chuckled at Patty waltzing across the field with seven bottles of water for Mario and his teammates. She’s precious. We sang the anthem, Mrs. McCauley threw out the opening pitch, and the ketchup, mustard and relish guys raced down the field. Play ball!