Indiana

I am going to start by saying, “Leo, I am sorry that I wrote angry the other day. I still HATE the poker club but I appreciate that you drove us to Indiana.” See, several things happened for the weekend to have shaken down the way it did.

1. I am a big freaking baby.

2. We had a huge rainstorm that lasted a few days causing the surrounding towns to be flooded (our town was in a state of emergency but luckily, we were fine) and several roads to be shut down. All I had to see was a few highways shut down for me to go into a panic about getting stuck and the plan changed.

3. I am a big freaking baby.

Okay so maybe not several things but maybe 2 things. Nico and Belle went with friends of ours earlier and then Tommy, Gia and me went at 11:30 when Leo got home from poker (sadly, he did not come in first). We did not get into our hotel until 4:00am and had to be up at 7 for Nico’s game. Rather than give you a play-by-play, I’ll do an old school run down.

B is for basketball and a lot of it. I saw only two of Nico’s games but thanks to Leo and Nico saw many, many more games than that. You know what I like about watching kids I don’t know play basketball while occupying Gia and Belle? Nothing.

A is for all of the money we spent on concessions and fast food. I think the healthiest thing Gia ate all weekend was a Snickers (that is healthy because of the nuts, right?).

S is for swimming. I took the kids swimming while Leo went to watch more games. Belle lasted a whole ten minutes before she was done watching Gia and we spent the next 45 minutes fighting about how if she would just play with her for a little bit longer, she’ll want to get out and then Belle could do whatever she wanted. The last thing I wanted to do was get in the pool with a bunch of teenage kids.

K is for kicking and screaming which is what happened in our hotel room and the car the entire time (or when they were awake).

E is for eating. I think we set some kind of record for eating junk. I didn’t even go to dinner with the team because Gia was so crabby and Nico was not wanting her to go. He said he hates when she throws a fit and people stare at us. This makes me laugh and wish I had video of some of his fits that he threw at restaurants and how I felt the same way and like I had to, he needs to get over it.

T is for terrible refs. In all the years I have watched basketball games (from going with my dad to the games he coached, going with him when he scouted games, cheering in high school for it, watching the guy I dated play it, watching Leo play in several leagues, watching Nico and now Tommy, there have been a ton), the refs at this tournament were the worst. Just awful. On the first day, they didn’t call anything and it was a free for all. The second day, the game took twice as long because the whistle blew constantly and at one point, we had 10 fouls and the other team had 1. It was so unfairly reffed (is that a word?) that the boys couldn’t even play basketball. It was awful.

B is for being short. I cannot believe how short I am. When you attend a basketball tournament where teams come from all over and are 15, 16 and 17 years old, there are some TALL kids. I felt like how a mouse must feel in a crowd of giraffes. And Gia? She walked through a couple of players’ legs. If I was a mouse, she was an ant. It’s funny because I never feel short until I am around high school basketball players. What is up with that? I don’t remember the guys I went to high school with being that big. I mean there were some but not this many.

A is for angry. Put six people in a room that sleeps 3 and you get six angry people. Nico was so tired. It was partly our fault. I don’t think he slept well waiting for us to get there and then when he did finally fall asleep, we woke him up to get in because he double-bolted the room. For the record, I was a nervous wreck with them staying in the room alone until we got there and kept in touch by texting constantly. They were only alone from 11-4 but no one got any sleep. Our friends were right by them and did a good job of taking care of them. Belle and Tommy had to sleep in sleeping bags on the floor so you can imagine the moods they were in. Keeping a 3-year-old who hasn’t slept very much in a tight space for two days is a sure-fire way to get an angry kid. She kept saying, “I want to go downstairs” (we were on the first floor).

L is for Leo. He got us there safe and sound and didn’t complain at all when I wanted him to either come get me to go to Nico’s games or wanted him to take me back. I’m not sure what was up with his GPS but he kept going in the wrong direction. I wish I had a dime for each time I heard, “Hmmm…I’m going the wrong way” right before a swift U-turn. Again, if it was me, who knows where we would have ended up so I am not at all complaining. Oh, and each time we got to where we were going, he would say, “Hmmm…I think this was actually faster.” Every.Single.Time. (For the record, it was not faster.)

L is for lucky. Nico has a great team with great families. I enjoyed watching the games so much because of the people I was sitting with. I never advocate getting kicked out of a game but the one game I went to where it was so heavily one-sided was only tolerable because of the other parents. It helps that some of the parents are as loud as Leo so I am not the only wife cringing. I think Nico is very lucky to have this experience with these coaches and these boys. I feel very lucky that we all got to see him play in this tournament.

I almost made this word “Basketbally” so I could have a Y is for yelling because though at Disney, I am a “yes parent”, in Indiana, I am a “no parent” which led to a lot of yelling.

It’s always nice to get away but next time, I want a room with two full beds and a fridge. And next time, Nico is going to have to get over Gia throwing a fit because I am going out to eat. And I am going to have the biggest margarita the restaurant serves because vacationing for tournaments warrants a stiff drink from time to time.

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Hi, My Name is Mrs. Crabbypants

Here we go again. Shockingly, I am crabby. Call this a rant. Call this blogging angry. Call it “glass half-empty”. Whatever.

Yes, I woke up yesterday and today and thanked God that I am alive and that my family and friends are all safe and sound but what in the Hell is wrong with the world we live in?? It’s like we finally crawl out of the hole of thinking this world is shit from the last tragedy only to go reeling again from a new one. My heart is heavy and prayers continue to be said for the people who were affected by the bombs in Boston.

If we let the fear of what is happening in the world stop us from living, then the evil of the world wins. I get that but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. Scared of the world that I brought kids into. Scared and saddened that each time something like this happens, a little bit of their innocence is taken. First it was that they couldn’t play outside without the threat of someone kidnapping them. Then it was school shootings, then it was movie theater shootings, then more school shootings, now it is places where there are thousands of people gathered. Trying to protect our kids in today’s world is a daunting task. With my kids, I am doing what most are and that is focusing on the good in the world. The people who ran toward the blasts to help those hurt, the police and fireman and paramedics that responded without any hesitation for their own safety.  There is still good in the world, I know but inside, my heart is breaking and my mind is screaming, “What is wrong with people??”

I know my problems are small but they are still my problems and they are making me crabby.

Nico is taking driver’s ed. He had his first class and I sat there thinking, I AM NOT READY FOR THIS! I don’t even know how we are going to fit driving time in our schedule. And knowing how Nico is with everything else, he is going to be relentless about wanting to drive and originally I thought, Who cares? Leo will do it anyway. But my dear, oldest son informed me that he wants to only go with me. He said he feels more comfortable with me. Huh. So with everything else, I am the mean parent but with driving, I am the nice parent? How in the world did I screw myself over with that one? See, I don’t want to deal with it. I would just like him to learn with Excel, have Leo take him out and poof…he’s a driver with a license that can cart his and his siblings’ rear ends where they want to go. No such luck and that makes me crabby.

I am one unemptied Target bag away from being on my way to a Hoarders episode. The laundry is piled so high, Gia keeps using it as her inside rock climbing wall. My four children do NOT put anything away and their clothes are all over the house as if the entire house is their own personal closet and then they wonder why I go ballistic when they ask me where something is. Open your eyes and walk the house, Kids, and you might find what you are looking for. Baseball season has hit so there are no meals being made, only fast food eaten at hours that they should be in bed. Since they aren’t in bed when they are supposed to be, that means my nights are even longer so if I want any downtime at all, I have to stay up later which makes me tired which…yes, you guessed it…makes me crabby.

The biggest reason I am crabby is that Nico has a tournament in Indiana this weekend. I am so thrilled for him because he is so excited and I am excited to see him play. The tournament itself is not making me crabby. Ready for this? I have to drive there by myself with the four kids. Just typing that makes me feel panicky. Why, you ask? Where is Leo? Oh, yeah…that’s right. It’s the poker club night and there is some bullshit about it being the championship game and blah, blah, blah! We are already going to Vegas because he was in the top three so I really, really don’t care about him placing first. Maybe that makes me a jerk or unsupportive and so be it.

I’m trying to think of this as an adventure or at the very least, something to blog about when I’m done but it’s not working. I resent the poker club. I hate it. I hate that I have to do this with the kids by myself and it is making me mad at Leo. I don’t care how much money placing first gives him. I DON’T CARE! It’s not worth it. I mean if it meant we could move or even that I’d get a new car or even that I could go to Bloggy Boot Camp next month in Charlotte, then yes, I’d say I’ll suck it up and do it alone but IT DOES NOT. It doesn’t mean a hill of beans (okay, I felt about 80 when I said that). It only means that I am driving 3.5 hours with 4 kids. I can’t even follow anyone because it will stress me more out when my kids have to stop every half hour to pee or when I have to pull over because Gia is screaming because she hates the car. Plus driving in traffic freaks me out. Well, driving in traffic doesn’t but merging on the highway in traffic does. Wait…what am I saying? If I am stuck in traffic, it means I am stuck with my four kids in a small space and what if they have to pee or worse like they usually do? So yes, driving in traffic DOES freak me out! Not to mention that the only way Gia will not cry is by listening to Beauty and the Beast on CD and I have come to hate every song and the story itself because it drives me insane to hear it over and over again. I think I need to stop talking about this before I go into a full-blown panic.

Oh, and Leo, I hope you are reading this (and you will because I am going to send it to you and then read it out loud when you get home) because on the way back…you are driving the van and I am driving your car. Oh, yeah…it’s happening.

Amazing, I always say not to blog angry but I’m feeling less crabby already.

 

What about you? There seems to be a blogging funk going around. I am hoping that you find some humor in my crabbiness because what I think the world needs right now is to keep moving on and keep laughing otherwise we might all end up crying. Keeping Boston in my prayers today.

 

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Dear Tommy

Dear Tommy,

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I missed your basketball games yesterday. While I’m apologizing, I’m sorry I missed a lot of your baseball games last season. It was so much easier when Dad coached Nico and not you because then he had to be at Nico’s and I had to be at yours. I got to see you go from a flag football player that was unsure of yourself to a younger player holding your own on the older team to a player playing with his own age commanding the field. Watching you play the games you love makes my heart want to burst with pride. You are such a quiet soul in this family, always looking up to Nico, taking a backseat to whatever drama might be going on with Belle and understanding that Gia needs attention constantly. I want you to know that I always want to be watching you.

Yesterday, I made it to one of your games and it made me feel so good when one of the parents said to me that you play with your whole heart. You really do. Sometimes it makes it hard to watch because you get so upset when you don’t play like you want to or when the games start to go south. I want to yell at players whose hands are in your face or who are grabbing at you. You see, since you are my youngest son, I feel fiercely protective over you. When your feelings get hurt or someone is not nice to you (even though they are just playing the game…a little too aggressively maybe but that comes with playing the sports you do), the mama bear in me comes roaring out.

I love that in life, you go with the flow. You might be upset about something but you are not a “reactor”.  You have never needed me to entertain you and rarely tell me you’re bored. You blow me away with your creativity and I really think you could be a writer if you wanted to be. Wherever you are, there is sure to be laughter because nothing makes you happier than making people laugh. I often say that God sent you to us to make sure we laugh every single day.

 

Rarely do I get a serious face.

Rarely do I get a serious face.

 

You are so hard on yourself in every aspect of your life. In sports, in school and with CF. You take it personally when you strike out or when you don’t do well on a test or when you have a hard time gaining weight. You want so much to be like Nico and you are but I appreciate how different you guys are, too. You get things done and are the first one ready when we have somewhere to go. You have a strong sense of who you are and who you want to be and are never afraid to stand up for what you believe in. It made me so proud in church when the speaker asked people to raise their hands if they accept Jesus in their heart and you were one of the first ones to raise your hands.

This having four kids at four different stages makes it so hard to be in four places at once. It’s hard to explain to you why Gia won’t last at an all day tournament in a gym where she has to sit on the bleachers for 6 hours. I know it’s hard for you to understand why I have to say yes to Belle to have friends over (because I mostly say no to her) or why I have to be home when Nico and his friends are here. It makes me sad to miss so much of your stuff and I am jealous that Dad always gets to go (but I don’t think we could trade since I wouldn’t be a very good coach).

Yesterday was one of those days that I was able to go to one of your games but you were unhappy with the way you played most of the time. After you guys won and I went to say, “Good job,” it broke my heart to see the disappointment on your face when I told you I had to leave. When Dad texted me that you guys won the second game and were now in the championship, I had a house full of girls that I couldn’t leave or bring so I missed you winning the championship. I know there will be other games and other championships and other wins but I am so sorry that I missed that one.

I’ll try to get better at this managing during your sports seasons so that I don’t miss as much (I even bought a portable potty so that Gia can use at the baseball fields). Just because you don’t demand to be my first priority doesn’t mean you’re not or that you shouldn’t be. I love you, Bud, with my whole heart and I’m so proud of you.

Love,

Your very bummed mom.

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Parents of more than one child in activities, how do you manage? Are you struggling with it as well or are you lucky enough that the activities don’t overlap?

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Tidbits from the Weekend

It was a busy one. A good one but really busy.

Friday, we had the CF fundraiser and let’s just say that the night started with us getting to the place an hour and a half later than I wanted. For those of you that know me and know how I hate being late anywhere, you can guess what kind of mood that started the night off with. I had to run through the tasting part but did get to meet Fabio from Top Chef. People weren’t really taking pictures with him so I didn’t even ask plus, at that point, I was starving so it was more about the race to taste everything. I was basically a teenage boy who is so hungry, they grab at food, shoving it in their mouth not taking caution of how hot it is and burning the whole inside of their mouth. I did it every.single.time. Unlike last year, I didn’t get many pictures. I only took one of Leo and me.

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A lot of money was raised and I only had to leave the room once so that I wouldn’t get upset in front of people so other than me hating being dressed up because my feet will never be the same, it was a nice evening. Thanks, Deo and Gina! (Gina, you look FABULOUS!!!)

Saturday, I opted not to go to any basketball games and instead cleaned the house for the sitters that were coming. And if they are reading this, yes, it was messier than what you saw. I tried to catch up on laundry and keep Gia on a schedule so that she wouldn’t be horrible for the sitters. This translates to her wanting lots of Lego® towers and several tea parties and no nap. I missed Nico’s game where someone had said it was his best yet (of course because I am at every other one) and Tommy’s where he got beat up pretty bad. He’s usually on the side of “lost by 1 or lost by 2″. Poor kid. Dinner was filled with so many laughs that my stomach hurt. It was so good to catch up and have an easy night of eating and drinking and talking. Our kids might be different ages and our lives might be upside down crazy but it was like time had stood still and we were right back to when we were in our 20′s. I needed that. I think Leo needed that, too. I say it all the time but there is something about being with people who knew you before “life” happened. Something inside of you clicks and you remember who you used to be before kids or marriage and if you miss that person, it feels good to revisit her. It makes going back to “life” a little easier. Thanks, Heather and Andrew for babysitting! The kids love you guys.

Sunday came and I was in charge of Tommy’s team’s uniform fitting. Yes, my friends, we have already started baseball. It was good to see the families again and it went off without a hitch but all I wanted to do after was crawl in bed. It was raining and cold and I felt heavy. I couldn’t put my finger on why but I felt like the last thing I wanted to do was head out to a basketball game but I had no excuse and Tommy wanted me to go. Youth basketball…brings out all the uglies. Sit a bunch of parents in the stands from both teams and it gets UGLY. I am happy to say that our team is filled with a bunch of down to earth parents that remembers that these kids are 11. The other team…not so much. We moved to the other side pretty quickly but not before I saw that one of the moms was a mean girl from high school. Did she recognize me? I have no idea. For a moment, it seemed like she might have but I wasn’t going to go out of my way to say anything since she was a “louder” mom. What is amazing to me is that when I saw her, my mind went right back to when I was 16 and she embarrassed me in front of our whole math class. She asked really loudly in front of the class if I liked a certain boy and then laughed and said that he didn’t like me which made everyone in the class start laughing. Funny thing was, I was friends with the boy she was talking about and I already had a boyfriend which is what I said at the time but she still embarrassed me and I still remember it. Years later she tried to get a job in my district. I didn’t do anything to make sure she didn’t get one but I wasn’t upset when she didn’t. And there we sat with our kids playing against each other. Tommy’s team won. Tommy had two bloody noses from kids throwing elbows but our team played fair and won in overtime. I think the victory was that much sweeter since the other team (one that is from a town that is notorious for beating everyone) was filled with people who were yelling while our kids were at the free throw line. THEY ARE 11!

After I got home, I felt that heavy feeling again. And then it hit me…I think I’m getting sick. My body ached, my throat wasn’t horrible but I could feel a sore throat coming on, my nose was stuffed and my head…my head felt like there was a little drummer behind my eyes. I was hoping to just lay down with Gia and go to sleep but she and Belle kept goofing around so I left and went to bed. Just left the house the way it was (not good) and went to bed. Gia eventually fell asleep, Tommy and Leo came home from his second game and everyone got their homework done and went to bed but I don’t remember any of it. I was in bed, sore and achy praying that I’d feel better today because unlike anyone else in this family, I don’t get a sick day.

When I woke up this morning, I thought, I am not sick, I am not sick, I am not sick, today will be pajama and movie day but I am not sick. I can’t be sick. Belle has a volleyball game tonight. I’ll pop a Sudafed 12 hour and be fine but it definitely has me thinking about the days when I could hunker down in bed, have my mom bring me food and emerge a few days later feeling all better.

Can I get another weekend day to recover from this weekend?

What about you? How was your weekend?

 

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Bad Sportsmanship of Another Kind

Nico played basketball in the Wheaton North Tournament today. I said I wasn’t going to write angry but I can’t help it. I am still fuming. I know he is my son and I am biased but I am telling you, he is a competitive kid that plays hard but he plays fair. A lot is said these days about the sportsmanship of the fans and the parents but nothing is said about the sportsmanship of the referees. Believe me, I don’t envy their job and for the most part, they do a nice job or the best they can in the fast paced game that basketball is. This post is about one referee and his unprofessional behavior. A referee is supposed to be impartial…someone that calls the game as it happens with no bias either way. That was not the case today. We won the game but I am disgusted by what I saw. I knew that there was a ref out there that didn’t care for Leo or Nico. Leo coaches Nico’s 8th grade feeder team and has coached this team for the last three years. That is how long this has been going on. I never paid attention to the refs and wouldn’t really notice this one in particular until we were playing and I’d see Nico get calls that were odd and Leo get warned more than usual. Someone would say to me when I would question what was going on, “Well, you know, it’s the ref that doesn’t like Leo or it’s the ref that has it in for Nico.” We’ve always taught Nico in situations like that to do the best you can, keep your cool and be respectful so that it doesn’t matter what the ref does. What happened today threw that thought right out the window.

I don’t know what transpired between Leo, Nico and this ref to begin with to cause this rivalry but as soon as we all saw our referees, a feeling of dread came over us. For most of the game, it wasn’t an issue until Nico went up for a shot, the ball went around the rim and didn’t go in. I saw the frustration on Nico’s face. One of his teammates got the rebound, shot and was fouled. I yelled out to Nico, who is very hard on himself, “Shake it off.” The gym was fairly quiet and he turned to me and said, “I am.” The ref asked Nico, “What did you say?” Nico answered, “I was talking to my mom.” The ref called a technical foul on Nico and said, “We aren’t going to play this today.” We were all in shock at the call because it was so unfounded and out of the blue. Leo asked what happened and the ref said Nico said something about his (the ref’s) mother (that is so ridiculous and proof that he doesn’t know Nico at all.). The stands quieted as Leo tried explaining what really happened and even the coach from the other team told the ref that wasn’t what happened. At one point you could see on the ref’s face that he knew he had made a mistake and looked like he might apologize but instead, while the gym was dead silent because of what was going on, he yelled “Aw…he’s always pulling this crap!” I could not contain myself any longer and yelled, “HEY!” My good friend K.T. and her mom both yelled out in disbelief. Had my good friend, J.J. not been there to stop me, I think I might have gotten myself kicked out of the game. How incredibly unprofessional to yell that in front of everyone there watching the game. I am appalled and shocked that this ref dislikes Nico so much that it clouded his better judgement and he behaved the way he did. If you have a problem with a kid, take him aside and talk to him.  Someone that does that should not be refereeing youth basketball games. I don’t care if you don’t like my kid, you don’t single him out in front of the whole gym. If my kid deserves a technical foul, by all means, he should get one but he didn’t deserve one and for this ref, in front of the whole gym to say that “he’s always pulling this crap”? Are you freaking kidding me? He is a grown man! Nico is a 13 year old boy! Shame on him for this lapse in judgement and I’d love to know what “crap” he’s always pulling because this ref is the only one that has a problem with Nico and I love him so I watch him the whole game and have yet to see “crap” he pulls other than playing hard. Leo, who normally is not known for keeping his cool when things are unfair, remained calm. I can see him not wanting to give this ref any other reason for targeting him and he said later, “How embarrassing for that ref to have behaved that way.” I agree. The referees should not be the examples of bad sportsmanship.

I saw Nico talking to the ref at some point after it had happened and thought, “Okay, well he can’t take away the T but at least he is apologizing.” I asked Nico what he said and Nico said, “Nothing. I don’t want any problems with him so I said I was sorry for what he thought I said and then he said, ‘Good game.’” What?! Nico had nothing to apologize for. I am proud of him for taking the higher road and not wanting more problems in the future but are you kidding me? The ref was wrong. DEAD WRONG! The fact that he can’t be man enough to admit it makes me sick that he is able to keep refereeing. It makes me sicker to think that he might be refereeing any of our games in the future. I hope that I can be like Nico and take the high road but right now I feel a little like a mama bear with her claws out. It was the big joke that the rivalry between this ref and Leo and Nico continues. Parents take a lot of heat about being unsportsmanlike. We even have to sign a form with the warning of “No tolerance.” Do the referees have to sign anything? I’m sure they do and I am sure that this ref broke some rule and I hope that he is reprimanded for it. At the very least, Nico deserves an apology. I hope that when the ref goes to bed tonight, he knows he didn’t get paid for being impartial and unbiased. He got paid for being a total jerk.

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