Thursday, August 13, 2015

Backstabbing B**ches and B****ards of Baseball

Strong title! I know. I know. I am not usually so blatant, but there is a reason and I will get to it. I won't apologize, but perhaps my post will clarify. Mama bear is protective of her little cub.

My son has played baseball (well Tball initially) since the age of 3. He has been on a dozen different little league teams. Never had much of an issue with little league.  Everyone plays everywhere - it's about fairness and fun.  It is not that competitive.  Everyone gets a trophy.

Travel Baseball has been brutal

Hunter has been playing travel ball since he was 7 years old.  It has been a world of kid's baseball that is full of bickering, backstabbing, statements such as "my kid is better than that kid" and "my kid should be playing 3rd base," criticisms about who is sitting the bench, comments about "daddy ball" which is real for some (you know who you are), but not true for all.   It's cliquish and so high school at times. People complain about little league politics, but there are definitely politics in travel ball too. Everyone wants to befriend the coach and are afraid of him knowing this, that, or the other thing because it might affect their child's playing. Parents are yelling at umpires (I might have done that once but I am not admitting it).  Parents are yelling at other team's parents. I am telling you - a riot could have broken out at one game I was at.  Coaches telling kids to go hurt other kids because a player got hurt...vicious at times. Sometimes I wish we had video of it all so we could look at ourselves and say "What the heck?" Isn't this about the kids?  It just isn't that flipping serious.  What are our kids learning? (If you read yourself in this, something to look at)

It should be about the kids - they are amazing. I have seen 9 and 10 year olds play like they get a paycheck and then go play with their Happy Meal Toys when the games are over as they eat their hamburger and fries. Such a contrast. They are just little boys (and sometimes girls).  They may seem 20 on a ball field, but they aren't.  They are learning MORE than baseball here.

I guess it all isn't negative. I mean, my son has learned so much int he last 2 years that will help him in other areas of his life. He started off being the worst player on his first travel ball team and getting the sought after last batter slot and alternate right fielder position (which he deserved). I have always believed one should work hard for anything in life, so it was amazing to see how hard Hunter worked to get better. Nearly every day, my kid has a glove or a bat in his hands, asking his dad to help him work on some aspect of his game. He is always striving to improve. He has a passion for this game - a love (albeit sometimes it is a love-hate relationship) for baseball. Every day he is thinking baseball. We should all have a passion and a love in life - a reason for being.  I have watched this boy improve dramatically in the manner he conducts himself with others - the way he treats people with compassion, the sincere interest if another player is injured or upset, and finally, the other day there was a big smile (EVEN when he got out) and I asked him about it - "I just don't feel like crying anymore." Big smiles from mama.

I thought about writing a tell all story about the life of my son's short baseball career because that 2 years, particularly the last few months is full of drama. When I tell my friends about all the events of baseball, I am told "this should be a reality show." Ha ha. It really could be. I think we could make some money in this. There is plenty of drama to go around.

I have a wonderful little boy with a great big heart. I have seen him be hurt tremendously because of one particular coach for whom I have had such hurt and anger due to his choices/actions. So much I could say here, but I won't. I saw the effects of this hurt with our recent move. I felt it was a good time for a change, so I made a leap and moved my family away.  I see all these little boys around the neighborhood and probe my son to make friends because he is definitely NOT SHY! He wasn't interested. He told me he doesn't want to make friends with anyone anymore. UGH! Crushing.  Even more anger !!! I am not normally an angry person, but I have been carrying around so much of this anger and it is eating me up.

In my journey, I found my way to a new church here and it was if the words being spoken were meant to be heard by yours truly.

Every day I want to connect with God. When communion is celebrated, I am inviting him in. Yet, how is there any room when I am full of this hurt and anger?  One of the scriptures that was discussed which affected me and made me realize how I need to forgive all of the past hurts and move beyond it:

 Eph 4:20-5:2

Brothers and sisters:
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. 
All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling
must be removed from you, along with all malice
And be kind to one another, compassionate,
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us
as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.

My goal in life is beyond having the best baseball player. My goal is to raise my children to be the best people they can be. Teaching forgiveness means first you must do it. So, I am called to forgive and I am working on it. I want my son to know that when he messes up, God will forgive him too (and of course he knows I always do).  I want him to focus on all the good things that he gets from baseball (that hard work ethic, the passion, the good character, the ability to deal with adversity and persevere, the value of the team over the individual which involves personal sacrifice at times) - traits that will carry him far in life, regardless of what he does.

So, if have done anything to you, do yourself the favor of forgiving me for yourself and your kids and I will be over here working on my own forgiveness. Writing this has been more of a catharsis than anything. I mean no ill will toward anyone.

To all the B**ches and B***ards of Baseball,
See you at the ballfield

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tradition carries on

My girls spend all their free time at a ball field, watching their brother play ball and it would only seem natural that one of them would find themselves interested in playing ball.  Alexandria has expressed her interest in playing ball and begged to join little league. She picked up a glove for the first time in the last week and has been practicing every night with her brother. He has been coaching her and she loves all the attention she gets from him. He had his own tryouts tonight and wasn't watching her game. She was very disappointed in him and expressed this. He looked downtrodden after tryouts and I asked what was wrong with him. He told me, "I am sad because I hurt my sister's feelings by not watching her tryout." Guess we live and learn. Love the relationship/bond they have. Sweet kids. #nevergoingtoletherdownagain  #LOYALTY

Here is Allie's fielding from the tryouts at the little league tonight.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Need your support

I know our family has a lot of support out there - my friends, my family, co-workers, and my community. We could really use your help. My son plays on an 8U travel team (about to move up to 9U) that really works hard to develop children on and off the ball field. We have the chance to go to the Cal Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, SC 2015 which would expose them to the elite and continue to inspire them to work hard at their craft. If you celebrate the holidays, this is a wonderful opportunity for a win-win. You can pre-order your holiday wreaths using this site which then gives a portion of the proceeds back to the boys. Imagine your fresh from the nursery wreath coming straight to your door just in time for the holidays: 1 less thing to have on your checklist by taking care of it now! Imagine our kids' faces when they are told they are getting an amazing once in a lifetime experience because you helped us! :)

Please consider purchases or just donate at the website below! Just copy and paste link in a new browser!

Thanks so much for helping Hunter and all his teammates!

The Ewing Family (and the South Lake Slugger Family)

First Day of 3rd Grade

The long awaited day finally came - the first day of school for the 2014/15 school year. The kids have always been in the same class together, but we switched it up this year. All of them wanted their own class and their own teacher until 1 week before school. The girls were terrified. They backtracked and looked at me with trepidation in a manner that conveyed "How will I survive without my sister or my brother?" We met their new teachers on August 14th and each appeared to have a special connection to the teacher they received as if it were predestined.  Hunter got  "the smart class" as he specifically requested. Gabrielle's teacher was thrilled to have "the one that was in the spelling bee" and asked Gabrielle to be one of her "helpers" with the special needs children that are integrated in her classroom as they need someone to help them that is super smart like Gabby.  Alexandria got a teacher who is really good friends with her last year's teacher and she team teaches with another teacher but they have to "switch classes" which made Alexandria really excited to be like the big kids in high school.

So at the end of day 1 - I have 3 super happy kids who love their own teacher who won't get them mixed up and ask "Which one are you again?" Individuality and own friends. Kids that miss each other when they come home vs. being sick of each other. (On the con side - I am going to have tons more homework and different homework and 5 teachers with whom to keep up. That's going to be a challenge. On birthdays, I might need to raise some funds: 3 classes - 3 cakes - 1 day).

Quotes of the day:

Alexandria concluded "My teacher is beautiful and she loves me...I just know it." Gabrielle boasted, "My teacher calls on me and loves all my answers. I think she likes me!" Hunter said "I am really impressed with this smart class." He said that both his teachers are very smart and nice. The conclusion was a resounding "I really like 3rd grade."

Now what to wear on day 2?

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Mother's day reflections: 8 is great and has it's own set of tribulations

8 is great 

8 years ago, I brought home 4 babies - 1 at a time over the course of a month and this little guy was first. Weighing 3 pounds and 11 ounces at birth, he was just over 4 pounds when I took him home. I didn't know what I was doing with a baby. It was a new experience. I made so many mistakes with him (and continue to) - I let him sleep through the night the first night home because he didn't wake me to be fed. I was thinking "this is easy." When I saw the pediatrician the next day, he scolded me for not waking Hunter up, "He has to be fed every 3 hours - he doesn't have enough glucagen storage to feed his brain if he isn't fed every 3 hours." I can now be blamed for any mental lapses he might have forever more.  "Well my mother didn't make sure I had enough glucose in the brain - that's why I did that." HA HA.  Anyhow,  Since then, my little boy has always been the light of my life and the source of my stress at times.

 When I lost his twin Preston, I felt my own sorrow, but I felt sorrow for Hunter as well. I worried about him not having the playmate, partner-in-crime etc that his brother would bring for him. So many nights, I let him sleep with us because he was scared and didn't have someone to sleep with like the girls did. He often reminded me he was lonely and would cry that he missed his brother. I don't know how he could remember Preston at 2 months of age, but I won't defy the twin-twin bond. Dad has been his partner since then and while sometimes I feel a little out of his focus and out of the loop, I am reminded that when he does something great - I am the one that he looks at, smiling, shining - "Look mom, look what I did." He is my heart.  

                                              Hunter and his PARTNER IN CRIME above

Hunter is smart as a whip and precocious. He is succeeding in school, making all A's without effort. He haphazardly does his homework and gets it right, while the girls take painstaking efforts to get good grades.  His 2nd grade teacher says he is incredibly smart and she has no concerns about his abilities but says "Imagine what he could do if he could only stay on task." I had to tell her - no matter 
where we go (home, school, baseball), Hunter has difficulty focusing and paying attention.  I think ADD is overly diagnosed among boys and truthfully feel this is something he will grow out of. His grandfather did!  For what Hunter lacks, he makes up in charm. His teacher has shared several stories of how he is encouraging to her and makes her laugh. She says he tells her everyday - "Ms. Kruse, you are awesome" and occasionally he commends her on a lesson being fabulous, when merited ;) He is a piece of work.

This year has brought Hunter a girlfriend. Ha Ha. She was only about 6 feet taller than him. It was short lived (as short as he is)  - they danced at the Valentine's Dance and now she has moved on to greener pastures while Hunter remains in love with 1 thing: baseball. I would actually call it a "love-hate" relationship. He has been playing ball since he was about 3 years old.  He excelled early on - in Tball, he was one of the kids that could throw and catch (most of the time) and would get the "outs" on the team by running kids down because he didn't trust the other players to catch the ball. As he has gotten older,there are more and more exceptional kids and Hunter has hit a rough patch. He's not the superstar all the time and it's okay!!! 

He takes it so hard  when he doesn't get on base. His ability to control his emotions has been a challenge. Adversity isn't something he is good at. (I wonder where he gets it).  We have tried so many tactics (reward/punishment, long talks, sitting out of a game/benching him, etc) to try to get him to recognize his attitude is everything. After one game where he threw a tantrum, I was ready to spank him.  Instead, I talked to him and remained calm. He stayed out of that  game and then I had my dear friend and fellow therapist do some work with him to help. She asked him to draw something he really liked about himself. He drew himself hitting the ball and said, "I love it when I get on base. I especially love it when I get a home run." She asked him to draw something he didn't like about himself and he drew a picture of an umpire calling "strike 3" and the pitcher smiling. He was crying in the picture. 

pic above - what it feels like to hit the ball - the pitcher cries

pic above - what it feels like to strike out

She asked him how it feels to strike out. He thought about it and came up with "guilty." When she shared that with me, I thought - "That's the last emotion I would have thought he would have come up with. Anger, yes. Sad, yes. But, guilty? He feels like he is not only letting himself down, but his team down when he is out - it's all his fault in his mind if they don't win.  I wanted to cry and I was so glad I didn't spank him. I love this boy so much - I wish he could get on base every time and yet, that's not baseball. He has to learn to deal with it.  My friend shared with him that he had to learn to like the part of himself that strikes out as much as the part of himself that gets on base. She asked him to think about how he could do that.  He said - "I just have to try my best." I know he mentally got it. Emotionally is another story. I have thought about quitting baseball altogether but that thought makes him terrified. He says "It's my life. I love it." 
 And every once in awhile, you put a smile on your coach's face and feel like a hero after-all.

 How do you teach an 8 year old to manage feelings of failure when most adults have difficulty coping with it. Go to a bar - its full of people having difficulty coping with failure! So, church and biblical teachings have been something I am trying to reinforce with him - play hard, pray hard and how would Jesus want you to act? Something has to work! He will be the kid out there making the sign of the cross, clasping his little hands and saying "Jesus, I know it's just baseball but can you help me put my skills to work here and not cry if I don't get on base?"  

Win or lose - He's my "Hit Man" Affectionately termed by his beloved ex-coach and now a family friend Mr. Lapin. Hunter grew on him!

Alexandria was my 2nd beautiful baby home 8 + years ago. The oldest and the 2nd biggest at 3 pounds 10 1/2 and almost 5 pounds when she came home! She is now 50 pounds! The big 5-0. Gabrielle was the 3rd born at 3 lb 5 oz and is right at 50 pounds now too.  How can I talk about 1 without talking about the other? They are inseparable. Over the years, they have been such a source of joy to me. My girly girls who my husband is so desperately trying to turn into tomboys. They go everywhere with me. Empathy and kindness emanate from them - from their compassion for pets to their compassion for people. This truly makes me proud. If someone is sad, they want to cheer them up. They find the beauty in everyone. There was once a lady who was celebrating her 90th birthday at a restaurant and they made this lady's day by telling her how "pretty" she was.  Beauty is everywhere - in their eyes.  I have gained so much weight over the last few years with my thyroid disorder and medications to suppress my thyroid, plus being too darn busy to go the gym. It has been difficult for me to be overweight. The girls will cheer me up when they tell me - "Mommy you are beautiful." I love them for their kindness. They are beautiful INSIDE and out. 

3 years old 

And now 

School has been challenging! 1st grade was horrifying - the expectations for 1st graders is so much different than when I was growing up and it just keeps getting more difficult. Last year, we had pretty much "mommy boot camp" every night to try to get them where they need to be. Over the summers, we go to an expensive reading program offered through Valencia to try to improve reading ability. This year, my girls have excelled. They still have to work very hard and sometimes we still have bootcamp. This last couple of weeks, they have had a unit on money and it is KILLING ME! They don't grasp it. Still, their grade are A/B and each of them have had all A's honor roll once! Exciting progress. 

Pic above - Gabby's grades on the left; Allie's on the right

Their love is dance - We have been with CAD (Clermont Academy of Dance) for the last 3 years. This is one amazing dance school. Their competition team wins 1st place in something at Nationals every year. This school's older girls spend all their hours at the studio after school so guess what - there is no time for all the bad things that teenagers can be tempted by. I am hoping Alexandria and Gabrielle continue to work on their dance and dedicate themselves in this area so that the teenage years won't be so terrible!  We have an upcoming recital in June and I can't wait to see their latest routine. It always makes me smile.

Their first time dancing in public - at their "aunties" 60th birthday




And no matter what, these girls keep me laughing with all their antics.

From the beginnings, 

                                           Orlando Sentinel Mother's Day addition - front page 5/14/06
                                                           All of us -

Until now and the journey of the next year - of 8

 I am blessed to be a mother to these beautiful, healthy, smart, and talented 8 year children who are imperfectly perfect (like their parents) and that shall sustain me through the trials and tribulations of boo-boos and broken hearts, baseball and dance mishaps/politics, and boot camp like sessions of homework. I am so grateful that I am their mother and I will try to reflect on that this Mother's Day with my miss-shapened mug for my hot drink or whatever other craft they give me for that day that's messed up but they tried real hard because they love me - Love someone hard enough and all the imperfections are made perfect.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas 2013

There are 7 days left to Christmas and I find myself in a familiar place - trying to catch up to Christmas. Being a busy mom who works long hours makes it hard to be prepared.

There is the tree to put up which is traditionally done the weekend after Thanksgiving. Mine went up Monday night and at the expense of doing work I brought home (as usual).

Shopping to do for family: Nope I am still not done. I look at my "haul" and say "It's not enough. It's not equal. Not enough of something. Back out to buy more is in the plans.

Charity to give to: Yep, I have bought some toys and they sit in my closet - still not donated.

Cookies: Dough in refrigerator - Not done! Will it ever happen?

Gingerbread house - Never will happen

Christmas dinner planned and purchased: I have it more or less planned but not purchased. What am I waiting for?

Christmas cards? I had a planned photography session after I had the photographer help with planning the outfits. They have not yet arrived. Session rescheduled for after the new year. So, I took pictures in front of my tree (TONIGHT) and ordered them at Walgreens. They are going to be picked up tomorrow and mailed God knows when. When have I been to a post office?

Packages for out of town: Not mailed

Thank you cards to send off for gifts received: Not even purchased

Holiday lights/decorations outside: Didn't happen this year.

Visiting lights to enjoy with the kids: Hmmm.... sounds like a thought

Christmas Parade: Skipped because I was too tired and my back hurt

Visiting the mall Santa/Santa letters: OMG I need to do this soon!

Advent calendars and elves on the shelves? Lovely tradition Martha Stewart mothers, but it probably won't happen in the next 10 years.

Any presents wrapped? Not one!

Class room party preparation and teacher gifts? I did it tonight (the night before as usual procrastinators do).    Wrapping various candies in cellophane, ensuring each child gets one with a card from my trio... it's not as pretty or elaborate as some parents will make and I am glad I will be too busy working to see the Martha Stewart creations to make me feel I failed in yet, one more area.  Gift card for teacher - check along with a regifted mug full of Ghiradelli chocolate. Yep, I am that person.

I am sure I am forgetting about 1000 other details

I will be up till 5 am on Christmas eve/morning, doing last minute shopping, trying to clean the house, prepare things for the next day, wrap presents,  do the Santa cookies and milk, etc.

I find myself so frustrated that there isn't more time to prepare, but then I knew this day was coming 365 days ago. It happens the same time every year, so why am I not more prepared? Why doesn't it even feel like Christmas? I found myself today, giving a lecture to a group of clients about the holiday being this amalgamation of 1000 different ideas on the meaning of Christmas. We are sold these ideas and we buy them willingly and when the holiday doesn't measure up to that ideal in our heads, we are unhappy.

 We need lots of presents under the tree. Everyone is supposed to be holly and jolly. There are supposed to be snow and snowmen, sleigh rides and sleds (impossible for us Floridians),  hot cocoa by the fire, surrounded by a big family, opening presents and having holiday ham, turkey, and "figgy pudding" (whatever that is). Santa and reindeer, elves, carols, mangers, the nativity scene, Christmas trees, holiday wreaths, watching "It's a Wonderful Life," or whatever holiday movie.

 Have we forgot this is a religious holiday? If we simply were to think of it as the birthday for Jesus, would we still have this inordinate amount of pressure to get things done or to go into debt fulfilling the dreams of our children?  If it's really about our relationship with Christ, then it isn't about being surrounded by your large family and it's okay if you don't have family support during this time. So then what the heck are we doing to ourselves?

I think in order to manage my stress and my guilt I have to go back to the whole premise of the day and keep perspective. So what if I don't get a gingerbread house built, the cookies made, or the perfect photo sent out to my loved ones? This is a day about Jesus - Thank you God for sending your child into the world, that he could be our light and show us how to live and how to die. Thank you for loving us that much to give us an in flesh experience of you.  May we love each other with the love you give to us.

I hope everyone else out there is having a stress-free 7 day countdown.

In case you don't get the holiday photo till spring... here's a preview.

Yours Truly,



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Losing my Grandma - 2012/Dec

Just before Christmas, my grandmother passed away. She was such an integral part of my existence. It is so difficult to think of life without her. I feel a void which I am reminded of on a near daily basis. She loved my babies so so very much and they knew it. There is nothing and I mean nothing, that she wouldn't do for those she loved. She was so proud of me and told me that regularly, but I am not sure that I ever told her that I was proud of her.  She lived a tough life, but she stood strong and did what she needed to do to provide for her family. She did a good job. I am proud of you Grandma and I miss you. I know you loved me and I only hope you knew how much I love you. Holidays will never be the same without your cooking and griping about someone swiping the crudite or not getting to the table soon enough, etc. Lots of laughs there.
The following is a poem written and published by our dear friend BC Manion who is a writer for various newspapers. This was published in the Daily Sun (Tampa) just after grandma's passing. I think it is beautful and sums things up.
For Lisa Goggans

You came into my life as an answer to prayer

and have been a blessing to me ever since.

Your light has gone out, and this world of ours

has lost a unique.

You left your mark

As a sister and daughter

a wife and a mother

a grandmother and great-grandmother

and, as a sister-in-law, mother-in-law, aunt,

colleague, neighbor and friend.

Our hearts expanded because of your love.

Our days were brightened because of your wit.

Our minds were sharpened by your great insights.

And our lives are better because we had you.

Rest in peace, dear friend.

Our world is forever altered by your death.

But nothing will ever erase

the imprint you left on our lives.

—B.C. Manion

Christmas 2012

Posing in front of the Tree on Christmas Eve

Big Ham Hunter

Playing Just Dance before bed

                                          Cookies for Santa

Took Forever for this Boy to Sleep
The haul from just Santa above
Christmas Day

Gabby - happy

Ripping open presents
A dollhouse
Guess Allie wanted that DS XL from Grandma and Grandpa - look at her sad face

Happy again - Puppy for Allie

Gabs and her doggie
Thank you grandma and grandpa

Christmas Dinner

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Cute prayer

We were early for Ballet/Tap today, so we paused to reflect and as I was listening to the girls talk about God, I had to grab the cell and video it. Too cute.