Sunday, June 30, 2013

Boy Versus Team of Girls.....

Mr C has not played on a baseball team since eighth grade.  He turned in his batting helmet and glove for a umpire's mask and shield.  In many ways, he's at the ball fields now more than ever before, but the only games of ball he plays anymore are with little white balls and golf clubs.

Last week, Mr C was scheduled to umpire a Pony League Girls Softball game doubleheader.  He normally does boys baseball, but the teams involved were his age.  Also, since it was inter league play, the Umpire Director wanted someone with great skills and presence on the field.  Since the games were being played on the field next to Miss A's final softball game, both P and I were excited to see Mr C in action.  When we arrived at the field for A's game, we realized that only one team was on the field where C was umpiring.  Guess the away team decided to forfeit the game, but hadn't told anyone in time to call of the game and the home team all showed up ready to play.

Mr C volunteered to umpire a Scrimmage for the girls to give them a chance to "play."  Since he was being paid anyway, he felt is was the honorable thing to do.  You have to appreciate the young man's integrity.  What he didn't expect was that before the game was over, their pitcher asked Mr C if he'd like to take a few swings at the bat.  Of course.  Even if he was wearing his umpire clothing and it was  a "girl pitcher," he figured why not.

Mr C got a hit and made it all the way to home base without getting tagged so I'd say it was a successful "at bat!"  So glad we were sitting near by and caught a glimpse of this handsome young man rounding the bases!

Pie in the Face? Yes, Please...On Celebrating Big.

This year, we decided to celebrate Independence Day with gusto; go to fireworks shows, light up a few of our own firecrackers, and swim and play with friends.  Nothing says American Spirit more than sitting in a crowd of people watching the sky light up.  Being able to do this while listening to Amazing Grace by Chis Tomlin, God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood and America the Beautiful is absolutely breathtaking.

We went to a near by Church's big American Celebration and were awe struck by the fireworks and sense of wonder and worship.  There really is nothing like worshipping God in a big crowd of neighbors and strangers and realize how blessed you are to live in this country.  Makes you think this might be what it's like in heaven!  Amazing.

During the hours leading up to the fireworks spectacular, there were bounce houses to conquer, turkey legs to eat, and not to be the Pie Eating Contest.  Both girls were willing participants and while they gave gallant efforts I kid you not when I say they lost by a mile.  There are some fast face stuffers out there!  Miss A said the she barely could taste the chocolate pie as she face planted in the plate and Miss M said that she thinks she got in three really good bites when they called out a winner.  Maybe the fact that their faces got more pie than their mouths can explain the loss.

All American fun and we were just getting started on the week long celebration! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

College World Series aka Head Basketball Coach Sighting

The College World Series have been in my hometown of Omaha for over fifty years and for my entire life my parents have had season's tickets.  You might say that I grew up in the seats of Rosenblatt Stadium and spent many weeks of my childhood watching and cheering for College Baseball Teams.  When I married my husband, I knew that his favorite Longhorns were frequent visitors to the CWS and while he says that the tickets were not a reason for marriage, I often wonder.
For the past two years, we've made the trip to TD Ameritrade for College World Series in it's new "house."  Some years I go to a game, others I offer up my seats to the kids.  Don't think me generous; I realize that a day at the ballpark for the kids and husband means a day off for the mother.  Hello Hallmark Channel Movies and peaceful time to knit.  On Father's Day, my husband and kids had a chance to go to an afternoon at the Ballpark...I encouraged them to have some father/child bonding.  I'm no fool.

The CWS opening weekend is a real experience; there are people everywhere and the Fan Experience is amazing with free give aways, baseballs to throw , and tons of interesting "people" to watch!

At that first game of the series that the kids got to watch, my husband nicknamed this years College World Series the "Year of the Basketball Coach."  Our seats were right near those of Coach Roy Williams of North Carolina. Coach Williams used to be the coach of the Big 12's basketball stars, Kansas, and thus this Texas boy recognized him right away.  Of course, the long line for photos with the coach might have had something to do with it too.

At the Monday Night game, P was joking with some Indiana fans that they were sitting in the same seat that Roy Williams had been in the day before when they told him that their own Basketball Coach was just a few rows ahead.  I think my husband almost couldn't believe it.  To up the ante, he bribed Miss A to go get her photo taken with Coach Tom Crean.  She balked at first, but finally subsumed to pressure when the offer included a large soda and a big pretzel with cheese.  Gotta love a girl with a strong will.

This is however where the basketball coach trend ends..... the rest of the series was just good old fashioned College Baseball.  Guess you can't expect every head BB coach to be sitting  in the stands, it is after all their off season.  Thankfully, there was stll a lot of CWS fun ahead and while the team we were rooting for throughout the series, Mississippi State, did not come out the final champion we had tons of fun watching them try!

The College World Series..the greatest show on dirt!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Breakfast Burritos; Breakfast of Champions and Umpires Everywhere

Mr C has been crazy busy in June umpiring baseball and the occasional softball games.  Let's just say when the weather has been cooperative, he's umpired as much as three games on a Saturday and a double header twice a week at minimum.  A triple header can mean mucho bucks as Mr C likes to say, but it's also an intense few hours.  Hot, sweaty and occasionally difficult calls and parents can make for a stressful time on the field.  He handles it all well, but I can say as a Umpire's Mom I'm a little more sympathetic to umpires and referees.
One Saturday morning, he had a 9 a.m. game followed by two more games (about six hours on the field plus) and we wanted to make sure that Mr C was well nourished and hydrated.  Mr C is much like his mother in the fact that he's not a big breakfast eater, but like his Father he can eat Mexican food all day, everyday.  As a way to fill his need for "fuel," my husband volunteered to get up early on Saturday morning and take Mr C out for Mexican Breakfast Burritos at a true "Tex Mex" restaurant.

According to both of my boys, their Breakfast Burritos are more than one person can eat, but they both tried!  P might have sent me a text of both the plate and my son's face to prove his point. Since food is currently Mr C's love language, you could see from his face that his tummy and love bucket were both full and he was ready to tackle any of the stress from the ballpark!

I have the strange felling that this trek for Saturday morning breakfast burritos will be a monthly date for the men in our family.  Next time though, there is talk of sharing the food though the only problem is that neither of them can decide who gets to pick the ingredients inside.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Trying Her Hand at Pitching

I think that spring/summer 2013 is going to remembered as the year that outdoor sports seasons were cut short due to rain outs being the rule.  Between golf, soccer, umpiring and softball, my calendar has more cancelled and crossed out events than actual games played.  Miss A's softball team had more practices than actual games and considering that we were "moving up" a league this year with girl pitched and strike outs, its been a little rough of a season.

Miss A however was far from discouraged; she loves everything "sporty" and if it includes hanging out with friends she totally loves it.  Early this spring, Miss A and her dad went to a Pitching Clinic to learn the ins and outs of throwing a pitch.  Thankfully, Dad's years of practice with Miss M and her team made him the perfect  teacher; and the fact that both her sister and brother were willing to help with pitching and catching practice in the back yard kept her skills fresh even if it was weeks between games!

In Miss A's first official game pitching, she was a little nervous and struggled to get the ball over the plate, but by the second game she had a lot more confidence.  Thankfully, this year is still girl/coach pitch meaning that the girls pitch about six to eight balls and then the coach comes in to allow the girls something more consistent to hit at.

The season might have ended quicker than we hoped and our dreams of winning the tournament were dashed with a loss in our first tournament game, but all in all the girls had a fabulous time and Miss A learned some valuable lessons about patience, perseverance, and that the weather in these parts is fickle.  Plus she's working on a great underhand pitch and I think with a little work this year, she'll be in tip top shape next season.

The Joy of little league is that there is Always Next Year!  Plus, when you celebrate the end of the season with a pool party and a dip in the whirlpool it's hard to complain.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lights, Camera, Action

Miss M is our family's born performer.  She is not afraid of the stage or the dance floor.  It's truly her element. I've told her that I'm amazed at the things she does in front of the crowd; it would make me throw up.  Since the early days of childhood, she has been right at home making up dances, putting on little skits, and in essence demanding attention while she performs.

For the past three years, Miss M has been attending a week long Christian performing arts day camp.  During the course of a week, they learn dances, memorize lines for skits, and practice performing songs for the Friday night performance of the Musical.  It's an amazing thing to watch how quickly the kids come together and make this Musical come alive.  The skits, dances, and song weave together to tell a story.  This year, the theme was "Snoops" where the investigators were in search of "Christian."  They incorporated Old and New Testament Men and Women who lived out their faith like Joseph, Moses, and Paul.

Miss M sang in the Chorus, danced, and used her humor and theatrical talent to play an Investigator with a wiry since of humor.  She's got a great sense of comic timing and had the audience laughing at all the right times.  It's fun to see how at home she is on the stage and watch the talent of all the kids in the unique ways God has gifted them whether as a singer, dancer or actor.

I'm sad that this will be Miss M's last year of performing in Kid's Shine as she will age out of the program, but I'm confident she will find new ways to use her talents.  We already have a few ideas in mind for the fall and I know whatever she decides the skills she's learned to talk and perform in front of an audience will come in handy someday in the future.

Just ask her mother who never learned these skills and nearly looses it everytime she has to speak in front a group larger than five!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Half Alone is good enough

There are days that I feel like my main title should be "Logistics Expert" meaning I'm shuffling cars, children, and schedules to make sure that everyone gets where they need to be when they need to be.  June is what I would call the Peak Season for logistics; summer camps, VBS, golf tournaments and leagues, and of course the end of dance classes and softball games along with umpiring jobs.

On Friday after two weeks of every day camps for Miss M (VBS and KidsShine), I was trying to fit in a trip to the grocery store after dropping Miss M off at camp.  Miss A was awake as M and I left in the morning and I told her that her brother was upstairs sleeping and I'd be home in about an hour.  Miss A said to me "Oh so I'm staying home alone?"  I reminded her that she wasn't alone as Mr C was upstairs and she could wake him up if there was a problem.  "So I'm half alone then?" she said with a fist pump.

I told her that I'd have my cell phone so if she needed anything she could call me too.  With a big smile on her face she told me "not to worry I've got Dad's business card and I"ll call him first."

Love that independent girl.  I think she really wishes I'd leave her completely alone. Thankfully, half alone is good enough for now.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Thanking God for Great Test Results

Mr C had his yearly physical the other day. He needed both a camp checkup and a sports physical.  On the way to the appointment, he told me that he really doesn't mind the Dr that much anymore.  Once he survived his 7th grade physical, it's been pretty easy. No need to fear shots anymore and since I let him get the flu mist. he doesn't even think about needles.  His greatest hope was the he'd learn that he was now officially over six feet tall and maybe even six three so he could beat his dad in inches.  He has dreams of height!

Last year at the appointment, we learned that C had grown over seven inches in a year.  While his hopes were slightly less for this year, he was still disappointed when the nurse said he was "only" 73 inches tall.  What!  Mr C asked for a redo on the measurement and of course it was the same.  Poor guy he's only 6 foot 1 inch, but the doctor says there is hope that he will grow a little bit more.  One can only hope.  Our favorite nurse stuck her head in the door to laugh at his complaint saying that most boys would be more than pleased with 73 inches.

The rest of the appointment went well until we mentioned that C has "passed out" two times in the last few months.  Both times were early in the morning when he'd just woken up from sleep and was heading to the kitchen for breakfast.  The first time it startled me (until I remembered my friend mentioning her son had done it too and the doctor attributed it to fast growth and the body trying to catch up) and the second time was less dramatic, but I still thought we should mention it to the doctor.

Mr C was not pleased with me bringing up this issue  While the doctor didn't seem alarmed due to C's overall good health and low blood pressure, he did spend an extra long time listening to his heart.  At the end of the visit, he said that while it all sounded good, it might not be a bad idea to get an EKG of his heart at the hospital.  He'd set it up in the next few days and then we'd see if anything was going on that was abnormal.
The Doctor's first thought was that Mr C might be suffering from dehydration and need to boost up how much he drinks especially in the morning when he wakes up.

Amazingly, we got an appointment for an EKG that afternoon and left right for the hospital; a little scary but in some ways nice to get it over so quickly. I have to say that both C and I were pretty calm though; confident in what was happening and trusting God.  My husband and my mother both called and prayed with us while we waiting and remarkably we both just felt a peace.  According to Mr C, he has a track record of having fluke illnesses that tend to be "nothing" remarkable so what could be the problem really.

The entire EKG process was over in about an hour (50 minutes of waiting and ten minutes of actual testing, most of the time spent putting on the electrodes.) The funniest thing was the exam table was a little short and the cardiologist tester commented that most of the patients at the Children's Hospital are much shorter. Love the irony.

The next day the doctor's office called to say that the EKG came back normal.  Thank you, God. Mr.C's heart is norma.  He just tends to be a little dehydrated making it hard for his heart to react to sudden movements in the morning.  For now, we are just increasing our fluid intake thankful that everything is fine.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Making Lasagna and Spreading Good Summer Cheer

Monday was our day for the Girl Scouts to take dinner to the Rainbow House and somehow the non-garlic loving girl got the job of teaching a group of girls how to make Lasagna. How ironic.  Hopefully, the guests at the House did not miss the garlic!  Thankfully, Miss A and her two girl scout friends did not complain that I left this key ingredient out however, I did increase the amount of basil and parsley to make up for the missing garlic.

The plan was that we'd split the meal among three moms/houses and have a few girls come to each house to make the item and learn a little about cooking (a badge we'd been working on for awhile) and have some fun too.  One mom made all the Jello Salads, another group made the Homemade Brownies and Garden Salad and I was in charge of Meat Lasagnas for 35 people.  My original plan was to make three big pans and a small pan for our family; but when I called to confirm our delivery plans I was told the Home was filled to overflow and they'd take all the food they could take.  Four pans, no problem.

First the girls used their can opening skills to open up multiple cans of tomato products from crushed to paste.  Miss A had never used a can opener before, she's got a bad mother who fears cuts on can lids. She did a great job as did her friends although according to Miss G we don't open cans correctly since we don't remove the entire lid!  Next the girls used their knife skills to chop the onions and fresh parsley.  I was the most nervous on this step, but the girls did great even if they did cry from the onions.  Once the sauce pans simmered for 40 minutes, the girls were in charge of assembly putting meat sauce, noodles, cheese and egg mixture, and of course the gooey cheese.

It looked great and the smells in my kitchen were amazing.  The girls even helped with clean up and by the time we needed to leave for delivery, the lasagnas looked perfect.  Miss A who doesn't even like anything Italian or "mixed together" food even admitted it might not be too bad.  Once we arrived at the Rainbow House, my car smelled like a miniature Italian Restaurant and our girls were excited to set up the feast for the families.

I'm so proud of our "Girls" who willingly gave funds from their cookie sales to purchase the ingredients and then gave up time out of their summer fun to make the meal for these families.  Teaching the girls compassion and caring for others is part of what will make them amazing women someday.  I'm so glad that Miss A and her friends are learning that it can be fun to give back and share with others.  I think the Rainbow House families loved their homemade treats and dinner that night and I hope they felt the love and prayers from us as well.

Spreading Good Cheer; it's not just a Christmas Tradition; it can become a lifestyle too!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Another Golfer in the Family

Miss M is playing in a Junior Golf League this summer at an executive golf course which means she doesn't have to worry about Par 5 holes. While Miss M is a little new to the game, she's decided this is the summer of trying new things and golf is at the top of her list.  I love the gusto.

Thankfully, Miss M's good friend is able to play with her and while normally you are in a group of four, so far the girls are just a twosome meaning there is probably as much chatting as there is chipping and putting. The best part of this adventure is that for about 90 minutes Miss M and her friend are just enjoying being together and having fun on the course.

Miss M has talked about trying a few golf lessons and tutoring with her Papa in hopes of improving her swing and game.  Guess she has has some hopes of playing on the High School golf team like her brother.  Of course, her brother has taken her out on the course and driving range too.  While sometimes this exercise has resulted in great success, other days have been a disaster.  According to Mr C, his sister can be a little strong willed and unwilling to listen to coaching and Miss M says that he just bosses her around and tries to call that teaching. Probably a touch of truth to both sides.....

Here's to a great season of Golf for our newest golfer.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer Time and the Living is Easy....

We are embracing summer with all we have.  The weather outside might not always agree with our sunny outlook, but we are pretending it does.  To kick off June, we invited over some friends for an afternoon of Settlers of Catan and Dancing.  To be more specific Mr C and three of the kids played Catan (an intense game if ever I saw one) and Miss M and Miss A and their friend C were busy creating new dance moves in the backyard, basement, and bedrooms. Music was not always involved as some of the music was heard only in their heads.

It was the best kind of Summer Day.

The girls made up some homemade summer time treats for the afternoon.  Homemade Lemonade the Old Fashioned way with a simple sugar mix first and fresh squeezed lemon from an entire bag of lemons.  It was the perfect mix of tart and sweet and reminded me of those afternoons on my grandparents front porch when my Grandpa D would make his own Lemonade and then put a bit of sugar on the remaining lemon rinds and offer them to me for an extra kick of tart.

Thankfully, I knew that the this one big pitcher of Lemonade would not survive the afternoon so I quietly poured my husband a tall glass and put in the back of the fridge.  Figured the bread winner in the family needs a little taste of summer too!

To snack on, the girls made Ann's Famous Cookies in honor of my mentor who went to heaven sixteen years ago this week.  Growing up, there was always a container of these cookies in the pantry at the O House and I love that I can past this tradition on with my own kids.  The cookies are super easy and yummy and there have been times when the entire batch is gone within a few days; who knew that today we'd make a new record and the entire batch would be gone that afternoon.

Of course, I hid a small bag of cookies for my husband thinking that he'd never forgive me if he heard about the cookies and didn't get a chance to eat one.

All in all this was a perfect start to Summer and a great day with friends.

Ann's Famous Cookies Recipe

Ritz Crackers
Peanut Butter
Chocolate Almond Bark

Spread peanut butter between two ritz crackers.  Make as many as you want and then set aside.  
Melt Chocolate Almond Bark either in double boiler or microwave.
Dip crackers into bark and place on waxed paper.
Be prepared for them to disappear.