Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Waiting... and reading

This weekend, my sweet girl went out on a limb and auditioned for summer ballet programs.  While she is a good dancer, she is not the "it" girl, not the type that people trip over themselves to train, it is a 50/50 shot at best.   Maybe they see potential in her.  Maybe they don't. Not a darn thing I can do about it but be proud of her efforts and trust in God's plan.  Easy enough....(insert eye roll here).
She also has sent a painting off to an art contest with the guidance and encouragement of her art teacher. So what I am saying is that while life marches on, little bits of my baby are roaming out in the world awaiting, well, JUDGEMENT.  Such a heavy word.  It makes me a wreck.  I love her whether she paints like Picasso or a preschooler.  I love her whether she dances like a dream or like Elaine on Seinfeld.   Click it! Click it!  Still the same, I am waiting..... So to silence the ifs, what ifs, and if onlys, I am trying to check things off my to do list and get extra book time in.
I have 2 books to share with you.

1) One Shot at Forever by Chris Ballard.  It is the story of a small tiny town baseball team and their run for the state championship. At the time, there weren't divisions, so it is a David and Goliath story. Their coach was unorthodox as coaches go.  He thought baseball should be....wait for it......fun.
"Many high school coaches try to imitate Lombardi.  After all, winning is just as important on the prep level.  Unfortunately, it is win or look for another job in most cases. I've often thought that prep athletics are being spoiled by this must win approach.  Ruined because the fun of competing is being squeezed out of existence, replaced by relentless pressure to succeed.  Then along comes L.C. Sweet, and his team without coaching, without haranguing, without discipline, is successful.   Most of the coaching fraternity regard Sweet as a freak,  But there is no denying that the Macon players are relaxed, having fun, having a ball instead of being uptight about losing."   (Remind you that this was written in the 1970's before youth baseball and youth sports really went off the reservation with travel teams and clubs and specializing and conditioning and strength training programs for your 7 year old.)

I argue with the no coaching portion of this statement, as Sweet proved to give the boys plenty of coaching, just not baseball coaching.  His ultimate message,"Treat people well, believe in them, entrust them with responsibility, lift them up."

The book gives great game summaries and delivered me to the ball park over and over in the depth of winter.  It also talks about the players, their families, school politics and life in the small town.  While at times, I just wanted to get back to the baseball,  knowing the kids, the parents, the stories and backgrounds made the games so much more real.

It went on to discuss the boys when they were grown.   How the season was carried with them for the rest of their lives.  

Bottom Line: If you are a baseball lover or just love a true story,  do yourself a favor and read this before Opening Day.

2) Big, Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
This book is a murder mystery.  Lame, right?  NOT AT ALL!  I loved this book.  I loved it more than Gone Girl, but that isn't saying much, because I hated that book.  What makes Big, Little Lies so great?  The cover!  That shattered lollipop is genius.  I am almost sad to have read it on my kind to the eyes kindle because that cover is cool!   Then you start the book, smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation.  Right away you begin getting police statements from all these people you don't even know, so pay attention.  Then you roll back in time to the start of the story, which centers around the real kind of crazy people that you encounter every day....school parents.  Catty, witchy, bullying, pot stirrers and all this bad behavior leads up to a murder being investigated at a school fundraiser.  It is rich.  In fact, with all that,  I think it falls firmly into realistic fiction as well as mystery.  I loved that I could, without much work, put a face to the characters.  I felt it a tad slow at first and kept wondering when is something going to happen.  And then it did.  And then something else, and something else and next thing, I am leaving dishes in the sink so I can read.  (Oh wait, I do that anyway).   In the end, I didn't love this book because of the cover or the great story, I loved it because it finished up.  Things weren't left hanging.  Little Bee anyone?  Ugggh.   She wrote a complete story that answered questions that I asked myself, that offered twists that I didn't see coming, made me laugh, made me wonder, and kept my interest all the way.

Favorite Smart Lines:  On pasts colliding:  "On one hand there was far too much to say, and on the other, there was nothing."
On conversation with your Ex's new wife:  "The pain could always get much, much, worse."
On the noble aspirations of teenagers:  "It's just that fourteen year old girls are stupid"
On champagne:  "Champagne is never a mistake."
On using literature to escape:  "Reading a novel was like returning to a once beloved holiday destination"
On Parenting; " If parents had children who were good sleepers, they assumed this was due to their good parenting, not good luck."
On insecurity: "Some people were so unacceptably, hurtfully beautiful it made you feel ashamed.  Your inferiority was right there on display for the world to see."
On things spinning out of control:  "Oh Calamity!"   I am going to work this into my vocabulary.

 Bottom Line: Good Read.  Life Changing, No.   Worth it, for sure!   I hope they make a movie.

And now back to waiting.........and maybe some baking.

Monday, January 19, 2015

On Pace

I made some goals in addition to my In Place mantra.  They are selfish goals.  I want to make more quilts, read more books, and write more blogs.  As a mom and a wife and a woman, I often put my wants and needs last.  I am sure I will still do that often, but I am going to try to do that less.
I made a goal to read 40 books this year.  I should not really say read though, more like experience 40 books this year.    What in the world does that mean?  Experience a book?  Well, I have discovered the wonderful world of Audiobooks and I got kind of hooked.  AND THEN, my parents got me a wireless blue tooth speaker.  It has been nothing short of  life changing! I tell you.  Bubble baths will never be the same.  Doing dishes, not the same.  Any task that I can do while I listen to a book is simply not the same because I am getting to take in books while doing dreary stuff that has to be done.  With Audible, I am mowing through books I have wanted to read.  I just finished The Kite Runner while claiming a victory over my junk drawer.  Then came One Shot at Forever on the tail end of an exhausting road trip from South Carolina.  After that,  I devoured a chunk of American Sniper while taking down my Christmas decorations.  I need the kids back in school tomorrow so I can finish and go see that in the movies.   I am also actually reading with my eyes the more fluffy Big Little Lies for my Read Between the Wines Book Club.     I think I might have to review my books in a later post.

I also want to make more quilts this year.   If I finish what I want to finish I will complete my 50th quilt this year!!!  I started when I was pregnant with G in August 2006.  I made 2 quilts that year.  The next year, I made 3 or 4.  Each year has brought more and more desire and more places I want to spread the quilty love, so each year, I have made more.  This year I have 14 quilts in various stages of planning and process.  14!  I am currently not on pace with that goal, but with any luck, I will get some alone time and get some work done.

As for the blogging, I was cruising along tonight and then Doug came in and asked me 45 questions about the electronic interactions kindle books and audio books.   I told him I don't know. See, I don't mix my drugs.  Just kidding.  I just don't buy a book twice if at all possible.  If I am reading, I am reading.  If I am listening, I am listening.  But, "I don't know" is never an acceptable answer for him.  Ever.  It is an invitation to ask a lot more questions which also really deserve an "I don't know".  He forces me to feed him a stream of fact mixed with fiction and some total B.S. to satisfy his curiosity. I joke.  I always adequately research my answers and deliver them without a sigh or an eye roll.
My point in that is the second I sit at a keyboard with a purpose, some silent alarm sounds declaring it Open Season for important, life at stake interruptions such as, "Mom, come watch this replay of a play a did on Madden".  Ahhhh, yes darling, I would love nothing more to watch an electronic replay of a pretend game of 2 teams I don't care about.  Or, "Mom, I can't find any bobby pins"  Ummmm, have you checked your bedroom floor, because I know there are no less than 20 that you tossed aside.  If not there, try the car.  There are enough in there for MacGyver to build a tight rope and cross the Grand Canyon.   Let's not forget the dog with bowl in mouth and a sad, sad, face "Are you going to feed me?"  Listen, Dog. I just filled your bowl and watched you eat.  Nobody is starving here.  And nobody seems to bother me when I am perusing pinterest or facebook. Oh, no. Only when I try to put coherent thought to paper.  But alas, I shall try to embrace these moments and use them to fuel the fires of my passion for writing.
So now 19 days in to 2015, I can say here's to reading, writing, sewing, picking up the pace, and getting things in place!  It still feels good.

Monday, January 12, 2015


"It may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime."  As I read this in The Kite Runner, it hit me over the head.  The latter part of 2013 and most of 2014 beat me up pretty bad.    I went into a situation where I thought had nothing to lose and I lost a lot.    A whole lot.   I am not sure if the course of my lifetime is changed, but I am certain my outlook is.   Lessons learned.   Trust betrayed.  Concerns flippantly dismissed.  Respect diminished. Relationships dissolved.  Bitter pills swallowed.  Voices silenced.   Doubts linger.   I cried a lot and prayed a lot in 2014.   

2014 was glum  and ultimately put me in my place.  My place is HOME.  My place is serving those who I love and care for most.  My place is making the home and the life that I want my family to have.  My place is behind the keyboard writing, behind the sewing machine creating, behind a book learning, in the crowd cheering.   So for 2015, my resolution/goal/concept/rally cry is "IN PLACE".  I am not talking just about all the stuff, but people, priorities and attitudes.  2015 will be about picking up pieces and taking out the trash.  Finding balance and restoring center.  Finishing things up and moving on.   And celebrating the progress and loving the moment.  
In Place.  2015.  Go.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Roadtrip, By the Numbers

I just got back from a road trip with my little boy.  I took only him and we did mostly baseball because during the year it seems I am mostly with his sister doing mostly dance.  I wanted to have some boy time. So here is a breakdown of our trip in numbers and pictures.

1,234-- miles.  I did not make this number up. I consulted Google maps when it was all said and done and this is the number of highway driving miles he and I chalked up in 5 states.  My right foot is tired.

34.9-- top average gas mileage as calculated by my car.
64-- average speed.  Cheers to the interstate highway system!

480,234-- this is the number of calories we consumed.  OK fine, I made this up.  But the point is we did not follow any eating healthy guidelines.  We wadded up my BS in Human Nutrition and chucked it out the window.  We ate ballpark food and barbecue. Snowcones, pretzels, corn dogs, burgers, hot dogs, popcorn, draft beer, Dr. Pepper, lemonade, and a Krispy Kreme donut. or 2.  Needless to say, today, I feel sluggish (nearly dead) and if I don't eat some vegetables stat, I am going to code.

5- Our 5th ballpark on our MLB park tour was Kauffman Staduim, Home of the Kansas City Royals.  We really liked this place.  Nice park, nice weather, nice people.  G played catch with some boys outside the stadium while we waited to go in.  G actually got cold which meant I was comfortable and very happy!  George read about George Brett in the KC Hall of Fame.  We sat under the fountains in hopes of hauling in a homer during BP.  The Royals beat the Giants, there were fireworks, and we gave that park a thumbs up!

+10- Bonus Points for Kauffman.  Shandy in a can-dy! Went down nicely after 503 miles.

42- Instead of going to Memphis to eat some of the world's best BBQ, we went to President Clinton's Library in Little Rock.  I couldn't help but think, "Wow.  That thing looks like a trailer!"  Apparently I am not the only one, as a friend from Arkansas called it the "Presidential Mobile Home in the Sky."   But in all fairness, it was nice.  We both enjoyed the Chihuly Glass on display in the galleries and around the museum and the train turned pedestrian bridge across the Arkansas river.

92- degrees and 4,000% humidity as we sat on the sidewalk outside the ballpark to watch BP and warm-ups.  

2 - The number of times we got to see Alex play this weekend.  We know him from our town and he is playing AA ball in Arkansas.  George thinks he hung the moon!  He is a great kid, umm, guy, worthy of George's admiration.  He fielded more questions than balls while we were there - with a smile upon his face. 

33.5- Inches.  Alex brought George a broken bat as a souvenir.  A Maple Old Hickory still sticky with pine tar, dusted in baseball dirt and splintered just above the top of the handle.  33.5 inches of hopes, dreams, blood, sweat, and tears.  Happy to be broken because it went down in the line of duty - putting a smack on that little leather ball.  It is a gift I will never be able to top. Ever.  Proving once again the old adage, "One man's trash is another man's treasure".   It is a treasure.  In the event that you are reading this, THANK YOU ALEX!  

 2- The Travelers have 2 mascots, Ace and Odie.  Odie is the opossum being downgraded to sidekick status as the newer, tougher, more serious mascot Ace the horse comes on the scene.  I found this a bit disappointing.  I mean, some of the greatest mascots are scattered across the country in our Minor League ball parks.  Rubber Ducks, Chihuahuas, Iron Pigs,  Flying Squirrels are just a few.

12 - The number of inches a Batter Up Corn Dog is at Dickey Stephens park.  This guy ate 'em all.  He is growing because there wasn't much he didn't eat this weekend! 

3- Hours. The length of the nap this guy took in the car on the way home.  

All of these numbers add up to a great time.  I loved getting to be with just G.  No looming tasks, no practices, no chores- just fun on the agenda.  I hope to make this a tradition and go even longer if his sister goes away in the summertime to camp or dance.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rain Out

One of my favorite movie scenes comes from Bull Durham.  Crash Davis, the catcher, and the rest of the team are bogged down with life on the road and a rough season of minor league baseball.  Crash is the older wiser player who has been to "the show".  If you don't speak fluent baseball, that means he had at one time made it to the Majors.  Crash takes on the role of team leader and tries to impart some of his wisdom to his younger, dumber players.  So, Crash and the boys need a break, but there is none in sight. Crash, standing at the ball field explains to the others, "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you get a rain out." And this is what occurred next...... 

If you didn't click the link to the video, you should.  But if you are really against it, I will tell you.  Crash then proceeds to turn on the water sprinklers.  "Oh My Goodness! We've got ourselves a natural disaster."  They then partook in some boy like shenanigans of running the bases and sliding in the mud.

Sunday, as the rain and sleet and sub-freezing temperatures rolled in, I found myself thinking of this movie and desperately wanting a rain out.   I must admit the emotion I felt when I saw my school district was closed was not all that different than the Durham Bulls experienced that night.  I cheered!  I danced!  I quoted Crash's line.  I needed a day at my house with a clear calendar.  I needed a day where I got to focus on my kids.  I needed a 3 day weekend and God delivered in the form of an ice storm. Sleet fell like manna from heaven. It was just what I needed when I needed it.  

Today I went back feeling much better about having the energy to go the distance.  I went back thankful that relief sometimes comes in unexpected ways.  And I  leave you today with high hopes that some well timed "rain outs" come your way.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Folsom Prison

A first grade homework assignment demanded that I stroll down memory lane into the uncharted waters of my hard drive looking for pictures of the boy from each year of his existence.  It was kind of depressing because I am reminded how quickly the time goes.  And also, my children's childhood memories are all on a piece of technology that is likely programmed by the manufacturer to self destruct.  But this gem made me smile. My little buddy was not yet 3 years old when I took this video.   This was his favorite song.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

No Soup For YOU! (or Me)

For the last two days I have gotten out of bed at 5:30 AM (in the dark before the dawn- just to be clear!) to begin preparing Chicken Bacon and Wild Rice Soup so my family could eat something hot, delicious and homemade for dinner.  On Monday, I had the thought to put it in the crock pot to simmer into yum yum all day.  I fried the bacon.  I made the cream portion which is shockingly similar to making gravy--No wonder I like cream soups so much.  After this, I put it in the crock pot.  ONLY I forgot to add the chicken broth and the rice soaked up all the "gravy" and I made wild rice play dough.

So today, I got up resigned to make it on the stove.  I cooked rice, made the soup gravy and mixed it into a lovely soup.  Did I mention I started this process at 5:30 AM?  It is worthy of reiteration.  I turned off the stove and asked my husband to place it in the fridge when it wasn't boiling hot. With that, I walked. out. the. door.  I could come home from work, add the rotisserie chicken and bacon, heat it up, and we would be eating good.  ONLY HE forgot to put it in the fridge. So instead of almost done dinner, I found 9 hour old congealed cream soup.

I wanted to fall on the floor and cry.  I wanted to kick my husband in the shin.  I wanted to toss the pot across the room.  But, I didn't.  Tears, bodily harm, and pot chunkin', while satisfying,  would not bring back my soup.  As I collected myself and got a handle on the death of 2 soups in 2 days, Mr. Iron Gut ACTUALLY, for real Y'all, asked "Why can't we eat it?"  Rather than deliver a lecture (straight out of my college food bacteriology course) about temperature abuse, toxin producing staphylococcus, chills, sweats, dehydration, projectile vomiting, lethargy, abdominal pain, bloating, excessive gas and other lovely forms of gastrointestinal distress, I simply replied, "You can. Let me know what happens."  
He Did Not.