Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful. So very Thankful.

People that know me know that I'm fragile right now. I'm on the struggle bus. I mean, let's face it, I've never been a strong woman in the first place. I mean I cry at the drop of a hat. Lately I feel like I should tell the folks at preschool that I'm not hungover and I don't have a problem because I know I look rough when I walk into dropoff. It just seems that every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on the way to take Ellie to Preschool that just seems to be my time to "lose it." I don't know what it is, but something triggers me to cry then... and when I reach the 7-eleven I have to give myself a big pep talk and say, "Shelley, we're about to come into town, pull yourself together girl and get a grip."  There's just no way around it. Cancer sucks.

It makes you question everything. I stay up at night googling treatment options and what chemo does, and then every night I'm just cursing whoever invented google because I just need to stay far, far away from it. I worry about what my dad is thinking and how scared he must be and I stress about my mom. And the list goes on. And the horrible thing is... the one and only thing I crave is normalcy. Life before the c word existed.

But today is Thanksgiving.  And I'm going to be Thankful.

Today I'm thankful for friends that have reached out to me. Friends that send random texts checking in on him. Friends that have dropped off dinners or offered to take my kids when I needed it. Friends that listen. Friends that send cards, mailed surprises, messaged me and made me smile, and friends that force this homebody to get out of the house to do things- even when I don't want to.  I'm thankful for friends that message me about diets, meet me for walks, and friends that make me register for races and hold me accountable- friends that believe I can do things even when I don't. Oh, and friends that meet me for queso. I love me some queso.

Today I'm thankful for family. I'm thankful for in-laws that are amazing. I'm thankful for aunts, uncles, cousins- and all of the other blood relatives beyond that I just refer to as cousins because our family is so close and I don't know what you are so I just say cousin. Family is everything.

I'm especially thankful for this crazy crew that was up in freezing temps to cheer for me this morning. They are my heart and soul, my everything.

And today, though we may be fighting this ugly beast of cancer and it's never far from our minds, I am so, very thankful for the gift of time. I am thankful for precious moments and the unconditional love that my parents have always given me- even during that 6 or 7 year stint when I was a mean teenager. Sorry about that. :)

And most of all, I'm thankful for a Dad that always, no matter what, has always kept his promises.

I did it. Thanks for always being there Mom and Dad and for being my biggest cheerleaders. I love you.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Team USA

As a mom, I'm always using the internet as a resource- for the good and bad. My hubby often tells me to stop- I mean I've pretty much self-diagnosed myself with everything under the sun with web/md at some point or another...

When we began the Team USA tryout process besides a couple random messageboard posts and the Team USA Faq section, I couldn't find a lot of feedback on the experience. Lucky for you, if you are searching for info, we were blessed with the opportunity to play in the 13u National Team Identification Series at the Team USA complex in Cary, NC this weekend and I'm going to fill ya in. Keep in mind, I'm a straight up mom. If there's a fielder's choice on the field, I probably wouldn't be able to tell ya where they should make the play and if a pitcher has awful mechanics or a kid has a jacked up, ugly swing, I would have no clue... but I do have a minor in psychology, am married to a former Division 1 baseball player and listen to him (at times), and have driven to and sat at more games and practices than I can count. In fact, I think they should station a mom in a hotel every night as an undercover scout because I sure could tell you what a kid is really like. I can spot an entitled brat in a hot second. So here goes:

USA Baseball runs an identification series throughout the year where you are working towards the ultimate goal of representing your country. Speaking for 13u- Tryout dates are announced a the beginning of the year and kids attend a round one tryout. If picked, they will then be recommended to attend the regional tryout held around July. At this tryout, around 60 players attend and then an 18 man roster is established to represent your region at a tournament in Cary in August. In Cary, 18 teams from different regions compete in a tournament in front of scouts and approximately 40 kids will make it to the final round where a 25 man roster is established to represent the United States in games the following year.  The opportunity is amazing and the team gets to travel the world... playing teams like Japan and Puerto Rico. Opportunity seems to be the word I use most... and that's because the whole process is just that- one amazing opportunity. If you are thinking about it or have the chance... here are some takeaways:

You are a book.  The old saying goes, don't judge a book by it's cover, but you are a book. When we showed up to the regional tryout, we quickly realized playing at this level is a whole different ballgame. We saw gadgets and gizmos galore- Things to help you stretch, different arm covers, compression sleeves- you name it, and someone is being suckered and buying it. Not that these things make you a better ballplayer, but you need to look the part. Our son showed up in stained baseball pants (my bad, I'm awful at laundry and I just call him pig pen) and didn't have a fresh pair of Oakley's on the top of his baseball cap and he was trying out as an outfielder with a sun in full force. Wear a clean uniform. We learned our lesson and upped our game and bought new pants for the tournament... He's still waiting on a pair of Oakley's. :) It's not only important to play the part... but look the part as well.

Attitude.  Check it at the door. If you strikeout- don't you dare throw that helmet. Be respectful. This is the chance to represent your country and they don't want some tear shedding, hot head, complaining punk associated with Team USA. Honestly this was the first tournament ever where I didn't witness this. And if I did, I'm pretty sure that kid's name would have been crossed off the list in a hot second. Know you are being watched every second- even when you probably don't think you are.

Practice what you preach.  USA baseball does an amazing job of having staff that does just that. Coaches are positive and matter of fact. You don't question them and this is not Daddy ball. They speak, you listen--- even as parents.  With that being said, if you are a parent and think you can corner a coach and "work him" at the hotel... Just know that just like the players, you may be being watched. Ya never know when a mom may just happen to see this go down for 45 minutes in a hotel courtyard out her window. And she may just appreciate a stoic coach even more and lose respect for your kid. Just sayin.' USA baseball has the best of the best working for them and representing them. Your child will have the opportunity to play in front of former major leaguers and be umpired by ACC umpires.

Little things matter.  My hubby's favorite baseball phrase is "Expect it." Expect that the ball is coming to you every time. Be ready. Trust me- You aren't being judged on just if you catch the ball or not- but also if you are backing up third, running on a foul, and covering the bag in a pickle situation. If you miss a ball, don't quit on it. Make a tag even if you have no chance. Be the first one on and off the field- RUN. Just like in any other game, these little things make the difference and are noticed.

You've got one shot.  As the great Eminem says, "You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime." When you go into this situation you may only have one shot. Make the most of it. As my hubby always says, there are people with talent. There are people that work hard. There are people with talent that work hard. In order to go to that elite level- you have to have talent, work hard... and have a little luck. It has to be your day. In two games, our son got one at bat. And if you are a pitcher, there are 18 teams.. most carrying 10 or more pitchers. Four games are played, so do the math- you will only get two innings to show your stuff. It may come on the first day, it may come on the last day. But that's it- two... The rare kid may get three and if you suck it up you will be one and done. Make the most of what you've got. Show your strengths. And pray that luck is on your side and it's a day that you are "on." :)

You are a number.  USA baseball has matrix after matrix on you- from the number of innings you've played and how many at bats you have gotten to even it out with others on your team to where you stand on a 30 yard dash and velocity. This is the first time we have seen Trackman Baseball- which is basically Gamechanger on steroids. The stats it keeps in incredible. Within seconds of a pitch being thrown, you are able to see how hard it was thrown, and if it was hit how far it went. And not just that. Each pitch has over 30 statistics on it from what kind of rotation ball had to where it was released in relation to your arm. It's crazy. And I often see the age old question, does velocity matter. My answer is yes. When there are about 160 pitchers and 50 of them throw two perfect innings and have excellent command- It's going to come down to a number... and velocity will give you opportunity that other's wont have.

Age matters. In sports age can be a determining factor... but it's all relative. USA baseball does it by birth year- so for the 13u tournament, it consisted of players who were born in 2004. It's just like swimming- you can have an awesome birthday for summer swim team and be at the top of your age group, but that means you won't have a good birthday for Junior Olympics. For this tournament, our son was born at the end of October- meaning when he stepped on the mound to pitch, it was his first time ever pitching in a real game from a 60 foot mound and this was his first experience playing on a big field. I just kept thinking to myself... if he had ten more months, his velocity would be where the other January birthday kids was.  But then you have to think... about 75% of these kids will be college recruits in one graduating class and he'll only be competing with about 25% that will be looked at a year later. It all works out in the end.

Move.  If you are serious about baseball relocate. Move to Florida or California. Just kidding- but it is crazy how those two states produce a huge amount of roster spots. You make be okay if you live in Texas. States like Florida that have "good" baseball send two teams whereas our Team Capital took kids from a handful of states. Totally random, but I'd love to see a stat about how many kids that get to play year round play in college as opposed to kids that live in a state like Virginia that play about 8 months out of the year. I also wonder in the long run about arm health, etc. I bet it's interesting. Regardless... those states produce some great ballers.

Kid first.  As a mom of a 12 year old, the only negative aspect of this tournament was that even if you don't say it, tournaments such as these definitely bring a kid first mentality to the game. I am sooo not looking forward to showcase baseball and what's to come. I like cheering for our team and going for the win. To me, at this tournament, as much as I'd love to say we were cheering for the team, it wasn't that way. I mean if we were going for a win, certain kids would be playing every inning. It's just not that way. And I'm not gonna lie, there were times where I was praying that even the other team would score so we would have to hit at the bottom of the inning so my kid would get an at bat. I'd love to say I was the only evil one thinking that way, but I'm pretty sure I was not. Baseball is a team sport... and I just prefer cheering for a team and not an individual.

At the end of the tournament, our son was not one of the few chosen to "move on." Will we do it again?  Absolutely if given the chance. I can not think of a bigger honor than wearing USA across your chest.  For four short days, he did that... and I'm pretty sure he will continue to wear that shirt all the time to the point I have to fight with him to wear other clothes. I guess the experience could go one of two ways. You can see the talent out there and get down on yourself or you can use it to motivate you and realize just how good some kids are and work even harder. He's already up begging to go hit at the local high school. The hubby needs to mow the grass from our week away... but what's new... For now, that ballpark is a calling.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The In Between

This week I traveled to Florida to catch up with my hubby and our precious ten year old for a softball tournament. It was some extra special one on one time with our sweet monkey in the middle. She's our easy child- stuck in the middle of a pre-teen brother and preschooler that thinks she rules our house. She's not the oldest and not the baby. She's the ever so special middle child. She's our in between.

Sitting in an airport for hours by myself was actually a wonderful time for reflection. With another school year approaching, I'm craving the routine, the structure, and a "new start." I'm not gonna lie, lately I've been feeling like the middle child... not knowing my place.

For years, I was this crazy stay at home mom with little kids. I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and goldfish leftovers and never showered. And lets be honest, it wasn't just the kids pickin's I ate, I somehow managed to get enough food and am now fifty pounds heavier. I went to college and got a degree in Family and Child Development and was doing just that. And loving it. I swore off ever working again and basically had a retirement party. I counted down until I could be a "lady who lunches" and has her nails did. Yes, I said nails did because I pictured me being this hip Mama still trendy and with a little soul in my step.

Fast forward to now. Instead of trendy, I'm rocking some Kohl's duds and instead of listening to Missy Elliot on my car radio, I fight with my kids about who gets to listen to "their" music and can be a buzzkill and turn off "inappropriate" songs.  I see friends with awesome careers and it looks amazing, but yet, I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I'm a lady who lunches, but if done more than once a week and put in the doghouse because we need to spend that money elsewhere.

I have a four year old who I take to kid play places and I'm no longer the mom nursing a baby while chasing after another toddler. I go to her preschool and I don't find myself putting myself out there for playdates like I would have with my older two. Heck, I don't even bother- we have our friends and I'm not starving for adult interaction. I'm tired... and I know I have to head home to rev up for round two of running the older kids around.

I see mom's sending their kids off to college. I'm not there yet, but it makes me sentimental and worry about if I'm preparing my kids enough to be good people. Am I too hard on them? Not hard enough? Are they prepared when put in different situations?  I worry. All.the.time. Have I done enough?

I've gone from the butt wiper and diaper changer to the maid who cleans up urine that has just missed the toilet. People say this is the sweet spot... and I say this is the in between. The grunt work.

And after spending time with my our middle child this week, I realized being the in between can be just fine. You just have to give them attention, love, and do it with a little intention. Here's to a new school year where I get back to blogging and living with purpose because these days won't last forever... and before long, it will be me crying on a college visit.

So here goes nothing... We're headed on an adventure today... with my son's friends. My four year old will be riding along jamming out to some not so appropriate music and showing the boys up as she sings "I spy"... and I'll be enjoying my view... along for the ride with a smile finding the joy in a new phase of life.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


"A photograph is the pause button of life."
And isn't it true that sometimes we'd all love to have a real life pause button. I would- especially this week because we lost one of the good ones.  My cousin, (I'm just going to call him that because our family is so close I just say that about everyone) Eddie Solomon, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer and was taken way too early. Ya see, no matter what they say- Time isn't always on our side.
Writing is cathartic to me, but this blog is filled with regret. Regret that I didn't see him one last time, tell him how unbelievably talented I thought he was, or let him know how much I loved him.
Because we all thought we had more time. And I will never forget how he posted this on Facebook:
Not many people can say that the same person photographed you when you were little,
when you got engaged,
for your bridal portrait,

when you had your first born,

(Do you see the note in Chris's baby book how Eddie even made birth announcements for me- and I wonder if he knew at the time how much they meant because they so weren't in our budget back then...

and made this wonderful collage with my grandparents that I will cherish forever.)

when you had your middle child- and I'm sorry sweet Addie Tay you are so the middle child and this was a short photo session sweet girl- Lol!,

and also when we had the little one that made our family complete...

Eddie was there for it all- all of my big life moments. And everything in between... family pictures, snapshots at family events,

my crazy ideas that he went along with,
And here's where I'll spare you the picture where I emailed, "Eddie, I'm starting to blog for LA Boxing. Would you be able to take a "before" picture and promise not to show it to a soul with the hopes that I can follow thru and get an after picture."  And he replied, "Sure, you can come over on Friday and Joyce can help watch Chris."  Just like that...
He was there for it all. 
My last message to him was about a month ago when I wrote telling him he had to keep fighting. Afterall, he had to be around to take my boudoir pictures- Ya know, the ones I've been saying I'd have done for the past fifteen years "when I lost weight." I joked that if that wasn't something to look forward to- taking my naked pictures I don't know what was... because Eddie was one of the ones that always got my sarcastic humor.  And I like to think he is making me laugh right now by saying, "That wasn't really something I had to stick around for." 
I know that Eddie loved my family, my kids, and me, so I'm the lucky one.
If you have an Eddie in your life, never take them for granted and think they'll always be around. Love the ones you are with. Hug your family. Tell people how you feel. And if anything, for that Big Guy in a Hawaiian Shirt and socks with sandals, Always smile, say cheese, and take the damn picture because life is short and memories are precious.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Participation This...

It was a gorgeous Saturday morning and all I wanted to do was hop in my car to get to my daugther's softball tourney three hours down the road. But the hubby and I happened to have another kid that is our caboose and only four years old. We've done our best to juggle so that she doesn't miss her favorite hour of every week- soccer. I mean- I guess you can call it soccer- There is a ball and a couple nets but I'm not sure "soccer" is ever really played eventhough it's the cutest thing ever. This was our last session of the season and being the procrastinator I am, I had signed up for snack on the and had to hand it out... and then I spied the coach giving out medals to every kid. Shoot me- it was the one day this Mama wanted to peace out fast.

I didn't. And I'm so glad I stayed and got that medal. It hasn't been taken off since and our little caboose seriously must have told every stranger from here to Richmond about her medal. And yes, it's that cute every time. It started having me question the whole "participation medal" debate all weekend. And I get it-she's four, so who cares, but whatever.

We live in a world where youth sports are crazy town. And yep, I'm that mom that is ultra competitive. We get it, some think we are the crazy ones- practices all the time, private lessons, hotels for ten year old tourneys that really don't mean a thing.  My own family lets me know it. And if you've been a fly on the wall, you may have heard my hubby and I ranting that this whole participation trophy thing is crap.

Ya see, we live in a Ricky Bobby world- where "If you ain't first, you're last." Errybody's chasing that next title and wanting to be the best. NFL athletes are yanking ribbons from their kids and saying expectations need to be higher. Recently even my boy Bryce- and I do love ya Bryce- said, "Oh, it’s OK you guys lost,’ but no, Johnny, no. No participation trophies, OK? First place only.”

Fast forward to why I'm blabbing away on my soap box... Today, that same older daughter that I was rushing off to see this weekend played her butt off with her team. They came up short and took second place in their tournament. And guess what happened. None of us- except the team mom that takes pictures (Thank goodness for her) rushed the field with our iPhones and gadgets to capture this moment. Instead, we stood on the side in moods kind of like, "What the hell was that?"  "Our team is so much better than that." Our expectations certainly aren't to go out and beat ourselves by making errors and not hitting the ball. We train for this and gave up a weekend to see that just go down.

And that, that right there is what is wrong with youth sports. The problem isn't giving second place trophies and rewarding those that aren't the best. Look at these girls- they worked hard for this- and those beautiful, proud smiles are begging for cameras.

From here on out, I promise that I will be on that field clicking away. I will be proud if you finish 1st or 21st. You girls rock. Don't ever stop aiming for the top baby girl, and don't ever, ever hang that head. You taught me something today- That maybe those right there on the field in front of us matter more than anyone's opinion. Second is super, and you, my Glory girls, are simply badass.

-Signed, one proud Mama

Sunday, May 7, 2017

This is us...

It's past my bedtime, I'm tired, and I just had a McDonald's extra value meal that was soooo not on my low carb diet I started this morning, and yet after a day that began by loading up the car for the fields at 5:30am, here I sit, writing- Because I'm still on a high from such a GLORYous win. Ya see, my daughter's 10U softball team, GLORY, brought home a championship.

That's right, I just said 10U championship. And I get it, in reality hundreds of thousands of kids were crowned champions across the country today at this tournament, that competition, and this invitational. Shirts were bought by millions to commemorate the day, parents whooped and hollered like it was the Superbowl, and Facebook was cluttered with statuses of kids holding trophies. And I'm one of those parents that did almost all of that and then some- because I've come to terms with it- We are a crazy, psycho, sports loving family. And I love it.

Now let's get things straight. I am well aware that my kids are not the next Bryce Harper or Jenny Finch. And I know that if I had to bet on it- my kids will follow in my awesome footsteps and their sports careers will end just like mine did at high school. I mean, I'm just like my parents and am living my life spending every last dime on private lessons and hotels for tourneys and trust me- I'm not doing it because I think we're going somewhere with this and need a sports agent in our future.

What many don't realize is, for some, youth sports goes way beyond being trophy chasers. And those of us that brag and are over the top about our kids are just proud because of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

It's days like today that teach our kids that winning is sweet. And days like last weekend that teach our kids that many times in life, it's okay to go home a loser. Life isn't always about winning. In fact, it goes way beyond the scoreboard.

What life is about is being happy. Happy to me is seeing my kids crammed in a car singing and smiling with teammates. Happy is seeing our team taking over the hotel pool and acting fools... while the adults secretly try and sneak alcoholic drinks in the hotel lobby in Chick-Fil-A cups. Happy is having a family beyond your family... that counts down to rap battles at away tournaments. Happy is hearing girls on the fence yelling cheers at the top of their lungs to rally their teammates. Happy is seeing younger siblings on the sideline creating the oddest games to pass the time. Happy is having my kids make friends from different schools that all share the love of the game. Happy is being able to throw a coach's name into a fight with my kids and saying, "If you don't start having a better attitude, we're going to have a talk with Coach So and So," because my kids have learned to respect and look up to authority figures like no other- maybe just not Mom. :)

Being psycho sports parents isn't as crazy as it sounds. Sure, I check the weather on a Monday for next weekend's games. Sure, I plug in teams on Gamechanger and look to see how area kids are doing. And I know this all sounds crazy to some, but if you don't get it, you don't get it...and if you do, well then, I can bet you are like me. It's the little things in life that matter- Like when you find a spic and span Don's John, when you log in to sign up genius first and can sign up for something easy to bring to the field, or when you question if the on the go running all around is worth it... only to see your kids wear their sports jerseys to school 2 times a week- despite the fact that you have bought them cute clothes... but you don't throw a fit because you realize they wear their team gear because, like their parents, they are proud to be a part of something. Something positive. Something fun. Something rewarding. And something memorable.

We have a game tomorrow, Wednesday, and two on Saturday. And I love it. I'll struggle with finding time to make dinner and when to eat it, and I can assure that one of those nights dinner will be hot dogs from the good ole'  concession stand. And I can also tell you that I'm pretty sure I'll be like my mom... One day, I'll have a glimmer in my eye when I die laughing telling "remember when" stories of different teams and things that happened on these crazy weekends.... Years from now, when I hear "We've got Ice" or "Slurpees for all", my heart will fill with joy. And I bet I'll one day be going to every adult league game that my kids play in cheering like high class white trash even when it means nothing. But for now, these weekends where you feel like ya won the best championship ever.. These are the days to hold onto, because I know they will not last forever.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

It IS Time

Yesterday I was in a foul mood all afternoon... Can't Facebook do that to you sometimes?  I got an invite to an event... not just any event... my 20 year high school reunion. F me.

It was sent by one of my close friends, who on a whim decided to send out a date and venue and just an informal, "If ya show, ya show, if ya don't, ya don't kind of thing. And the date just happens to be six weeks away.  What the hell was she thinking?  I mean I could fast for the next six months and still wouldn't show my face.

Ten years ago, I helped plan our ten year reunion... Not that I wanted any part in that this go around...  It was big time fun and all but when the caterer ran out of alcohol because our class knows how to throw it down, I wanted to cry... and then my B-F-F and I were sent to our hotel rooms by our other Bestie and our hubby's and didn't even make the after party. Thank goodness for that because we would have been a hot mess at Bungalow's.  And let's just say we faced the worst walk of shame ever when we had to clean the fire department we had rented the next morning but were locked out because we had left it unlocked with the keys in it and the chocolate fountain still running... Not our finest moment... Luckily the Firemen had taken over after we left. But.... it was one hell of a time.:)

Anyhow... I shot of a message to my friend and said, "That high school reunion needs to be pushed back four months so I can lose weight."  I was pretty proud of myself... I didn't even request the eight months I really wanted to squeeze in a boob job. Sheesh!  She fired back, "There is never a "good time"! If we wait till summer, people have family vacations... Fall kids are in school. Ya can't win."

And that stung. 

There is never a "good time."

Say it again, There is never a "good time."

She's right.  There is never a good time.  That has been my excuse for years.  I mean, look at my week.  Saturday was a baseball tournament and I was on the road, running around, didn't prepare and that called for Chick-Fil-A.  Sunday was WrestleMania and by golly my family had the best Jalepeno Cheese Dip on the east of the Mississippi... not to mention pizza, wings, homemade lemon cake... I could go on and on but let's just leave it at this Mama didn't touch the fruit bowl. Monday was my daughter's birthday party and 21 day fix got pushed back because I just had to partake in the pizza and cupcakes. I mean I couldn't skip it like ten of the other Moms. Nope, not me. And last night, I got this reunion notification, the hubby was traveling, and that just gave me free range to eat my emotions.  And I'm sure today will be something else.  I mean I am visiting my Mama and Daddy's and I just know they'll whip me up something good...

There is never a "good time" to start my weight loss journey.

And then it hit me.  Like a pound of rocks.  Or a knuckle sandwich to the face.

There is never a "good time" to want to skip out on seeing people you love and care about. There is never a good time to want to dodge life events. There is never a good time to want to stop being full of life because of a number on a scale or a few rolls around your middle.  There is never a good time to let your actions and your choices that are holding you back to control your life. There is never a good time to not want to take photos with your family.  The list goes on.

I have to stop the excuses. I have to make better choices. And I have to go all in. 

The time is NOW.  Trainer at 9am.  Making a shake so I don't ask my Daddy to make me chipped beef in gravy.  The time is now because I am worth it.