The Goalie

Sunday was my son’s first soccer game, not just first of the season, but first game ever.  He’s five so I anticipated it would be pretty cute to see him out on the field in his “you’ll grow in to it” jersey and matching socks so long that they were only inches from the hem of his shorts.  It was an exciting day and we were all petty pumped to see the game.  When we arrived to the field we found his coach and left him with his teammates.  The team warmed, up while the rest of my family and I took our places on the sidelines.   It wasn’t long when we noticed that the coach was preparing our son for the position of Goalie, which he played for the first part of the game.

The players took their positions on the soccer field and the game began.  That’s when for me the unexpected anxiety began!  I watched as player after player came toward him dribbling the soccer ball between their feet.  What I wish I could say is that as each different player approached the goal area I watched as my son swiftly and deftly defended his turf, but this was not the case.   The opposing team quickly scored a few goals.   As the wild little band of soccer players traversed the field, my son remained in his designated spot and appeared to have no interest in the action happening just feet from him.  He mostly ignored it and instead preferred to scratch his leg… wave at his dad, sisters, and me… look at the goal net…   Soccer game?  What soccer game?

I was beside myself!  Keeping things in perspective was getting harder and harder.  I restrained myself from shouting, “Get the ball!!!”  I didn’t want to make a scene and be one of ‘those’ parents who constantly coaches from the sidelines.  I didn’t want him to be embarrassed and I didn’t want to embarrass my husband and daughters.  I didn’t want him to miss the ball because he wasn’t paying attention.  I didn’t want to see him fail…  Ouch!  Did I really say that?  Did I just say that about a 5 year olds soccer game?  Boy have I got a lot to learn!

I couldn’t believe how watching the ball coming toward him gave me such a feeling of panic and as I watched the game, it began to dawn on me how much this little ball game was like parenting.  I found myself remembering the times that my mother would try to reason with me about all the typical teenage subjects.  Dating of course was a favorite concern of hers.  I remember the dread every time I had to ride alone in the car with my mom, for fear she would use the car for what I viewed as a mobile torture chamber!  If I think back to those days I can easily remember the pitch of her voice and the way her lips would thin as she spoke with determination and authority with just the slightest hint of desperation.  During the soccer game I began to realize how I was that parent now.

Watching my kids struggle is something I have done a few times over the last 14 years.  I have seen my daughters each take blows from life that would take the breath of even the greatest athlete.  I have seen them struggle with issues far more adult than their own years.  I have felt protective, but mostly for them the things they face are not things they have brought upon themselves.  This little game was just a tiny taste of what I’m sure my mother was swallowing whole on those car rides.  She could see her player in the game of life.  She had been to many a ‘soccer’ game and knew a bit about how it was played.  Seeing me in charge of guarding the goal, it was hard for her to stay on the sidelines and let me experience defeat.  It wasn’t that she didn’t have confidence in me, it was that she knew that at some point everybody misses, everybody looses focus, everybody… looses.   She knew these things because she had lost a few times too.  And I have.  And he will.   Somehow we all make it!

Preparing My Goalie

Preparing My Goalie

The Moment Anxiety Set In...

The Moment Anxiety Set In...

Maybe we should explore the Martial Arts?

Maybe we should explore the Martial Arts?

Defending the Goal!

Defending the Goal!

Advertisements

My Mom Likes to Sleep In!

Last night I stayed up way to late!  It was just one of those nights that I couldn’t sleep, but this morning I was so tired.  As I was trying to schlep my body down the stairs, my brain was desperate for an excuse to crawl back to my bed.  Despite the pleading from my body, it was time to get up.  Mornings are not my favorite…

For all of my parenting years this not being a ‘morning person’ has been a problem.  You see, I have been blessed with 3 curious and energetic morning children.  You might even be able to call them night owls, because frequently they were up before the sun, only for them it was morning because they had already slept enough to no longer be tired!  From my bedroom I could often hear them as they opened the cupboards looking for snacks and rummaged through the house by the light of the TVs blue screen.  My husband would refer to this a being “on patrol”.

When my daughters were going through their morning patrol phase I was single parenting.  In an effort to keep them corralled for a precious few more moments of valuable sleep I would confine them to my bedroom.  During that time, which was usually not longer than an hour, I would remind them that mommy likes to “sleep in” and they would watch a movie.  At the foot of my bed they would sit, their bare little feet dangling over the edge of the bed, while I came to terms with the fact that morning had indeed broken.   I must have really stressed to them how important these few extra minutes were to me, because they were very good at not disturbing me as long as their video played.

It is now officially Autumn, so thinking of that today as I was helping my son get ready for his day at preschool, I remembered a little story about his older sister when she was around his age.  She was a pm kindergartener at a private school where I also worked at the time.  One day upon my arrival to work her teacher caught up with me in the school hallway.  She said I had to hear what my daughter had said in class the day before in school.  Now those are words every parent wants to hear out of the mouth of their child’s teacher!  I waited with a fair amount of anxiety as she began to tell me her story.

Mrs. D was preparing the pm class for the upcoming annual field trip to the pumpkin patch.  The class was getting very excited as she told them to make sure and wear their grubby clothes, to bring their lunches, and most importantly to make sure to come to the am kindergarten class time.  She stressed to her students how important this last instruction was because if they did not arrive on time in the morning with the am class they would miss out on the field trip.  Upon realizing that this would require her to come to school early, my daughter began to cry.

In a concerned tone Mrs. D told me of how she noticed my daughter’s tears as they sat in circle time the previous afternoon and she asked her why she was crying.   She said my daughter told her that she was very sad that she was not going to be able to go to the pumpkin patch with her class.  Mrs. D was concerned because my daughter was quite broken up about this and asked her why?   A wide smile broadened across Mrs. D’s face as she told me what my daughter’s explanation was.  My daughter said, “Mrs. D, I can’t go to the pumpkin patch, because MY MOM LIKES TO SLEEP IN!”

As they say, out of the mouths of babes!

An *Awkward* Moment!

A funny thing happened on the way out of the restaurant tonight.  I was standing in the jam-packed entryway of the Olive Garden waiting for my kids to catch up to me after leaving our table, when suddenly a man’s voice was quietly whispering something in my ear.  It was a disorienting sound in the busy restaurant.  I wasn’t expecting it, so boy was I shocked when suddenly I felt the distinctive pat on my backside that is the unmistakable signal of flirtation!  My husband is out of town this weekend, so I knew it was not him, and I was most definitely not expecting that kind of attention!

It all happened so quickly that when I turned toward the young man, it appeared that he was still unaware that it was my rear he had patted and not the person he had intended!  It wasn’t but a second when he turned toward me again and was immediately aware of his error.  His embarrassment was visible as his face turned a burning shade of red.  He spoke clearly this time with his apology and I could tell that he was flustered and worried that I would misinterpret his misdirected advance.  It was as if I could see him standing on the trap door that he was trying to will into existence beneath him and the young man would have done anything to fall through it at that moment!

I felt sorry for him, standing there so repentant and embarrassed.  It’s not like he was purposely being crude with me.  Let’s just say the whole moment was *awkward*!   I laughed off the incident, waving my hand and saying, “It’s ok…” as I looked away and hurried my kids off to the car.  I didn’t want to make a big deal out of an honest mistake.  As I walked to the car my girls were giggling, obviously aware of the accidental groping, and we all had a good laugh about it in the car on the way home!

Oh, there’s probably some pearl of wisdom to glean here, but for us tonight it just gave the kids a reason to have a good laugh at their ol’ mom!

My Girl, Sports, and Life Long Fitness…

I wrote this last week, but I’m posting it here today…

Today I was inspired and proud.  I watched my little girl, and by little girl I really mean very quickly growing up youngest daughter, in action at her first ever Volleyball game.  She was fantastic!

Earlier this summer my girl and I were in the car driving somewhere when she asked me why when I was a kid I was never in sports?  This is a subject I have never been very comfortable with.   In my family of origin I was the “artsy” one while all of my siblings pursued athletics.   Most of what I told her she already had heard before…like how my brothers were both natural athletes who were gifted with physical talent, and I felt like I was clumsy and awkward, like how my sister went out for the volleyball team and the track team (She’s now a PE teacher), and a favorite family story where a 7th grade me decided to join the Pacific Junior High basketball team and when after a week when the coach announced that we were going to practice our “lay-ups” I looked at him utterly puzzled and asked the question that ended my WNBA career, “What’s a lay-up?”

That day in the car, I told her how I had always wished that I started doing something sports or fitness oriented when I was young, because maybe some kind of sports activity would have helped me establish a love for lifelong fitness.  I told her about entering the Gold’s Gym for the first time and how it took me 2 ½ years, yes years, to even step on the weight room floor!  I told her about how a few years ago I began to realize that God gave me this body to serve me!  It’s not the other way around and in order for my body to serve the needs I have it needs to be healthy and able.  Fitness is the key to that.  (We talked about food too of course, but I’m trying to stick to the exercise part of the “diet and exercise” balance.)  We talked about how physical health, for better or worse, is a lifelong journey.

My girl is a lot like me.   If I had and get a nickel for every time someone tells me how much she looks like me, I’ll be able to retire to Paris!  When she was little, her grandpa called her my little magpie.  As a parent it’s hard to watch when your child struggles with the same things you do, especially when you feel like they are some of you own personal failures.  In the car that day, I told her that I’m not looking for a “Gym Barbie” body, but a body that functions better.  Perfection isn’t what this is about, and I don’t expect that from her either.   Some days are good and some are not so good, just keep going.  Keep at it and even make friends with it.  As a tank top I work out in reads, I told her to be “a force 2B reckoned with!”  Neither of us are runners, but we made a pact that day to run in a race someday together.  I don’t know when or where that will be, but I’m still in!

Since that day in the car I have had many ups and down on my journey towards physical fitness.  Some days I feel like a triumphant warrior, and others like a fragile egg.  I hired a trainer to teach me and mentor me and that has helped.  You know what they say about putting your money where your mouth is!  I am seeing the benefits, and new challenges are ever present, but most of all I have begun to set the example I want to set for my girl.  The example that you are never to old, out of shape, inexperienced, unskilled, and that you CAN muster the confidence to try something new to make your life better.   So today I sat on the bleachers

and clapped for the Spartans, and for her, but in a way I guess, I also clapped for me and for the changes I have made that are a turning point for both of us.

That's my girl!

That's my girl!

The Price is Right and U2

I went to a small Christian Liberal Arts College in Portland, OR.  Warner Pacific College was a great place to go to school.  I loved it there, got a great education, made life long friends and totally enjoyed myself!  I have no regrets about my college years, for the most part…

It was my sophomore year in college and the meeting I was attending took place in the small auditorium known as CCM 1.   A dozen or so of us had gathered for a meeting with the class officers to discuss what we were going to plan as class activities for the year.  We had a small budget to fund our scheming and scheming was what I had come to do!  I remember faces in the room, but not really who said what, and that doesn’t really matter anyway.  What I do clearly remember is thinking that this was a meeting of fun suckers! (Sorry to all my fun loving WPC friends, but that’s what I remember!)

The person in charge of the meeting opened the floor to brainstorm for suggestions of what we should do as a class social activity.   The usual offerings were made, “How ‘bout a pizza party?”  “We could rent some videos!”  “Let’s go Ice Skating at Lloyd Center…” Blah, blah, blah, is what I thought.   I was thinking this is College people!  It seemed to me like a stodgy list, so that’s when I sent out my offering to the collective brainstorm…  I blurted out, “What about if we used the money to go and try and to get on ‘The Price is Right’?”  Visions my friends and I decorating our ‘I LOVE BOB’ tee shirts, of carpools of giddy college kids making the pilgrimage from Portland to Burbank with the high hopes of landing on Contestants Row, and winning Free Cars and Trips to Hawaii, were where my mind was at!  Wasn’t college supposed to be about being spontaneous and a little crazy?

The room fell silent as every eye fell upon me.  My off beat and whimsical idea was met with deadpan faces.  Someone in the room asked me how I thought we could get everyone there, someone else was worried about how much money a trip like that would take.  In short, nobody was in. Who were these college student imposters, I wondered?  My idea had been shot down faster than the dreams of an over bidder in the ‘Show Case Showdown’!  As I sat through the rest of the meeting, the words in Bob Barker’s voice, “Vicki, Vicki! Come on down!” were quickly circling the drain.  There would be no trips to Burbank, no yellow nametags shaped like price tags glued to our chests and no Plinko winners.  In the end, I don’t even remember what our class activity ended up being.

Had my hair-brained idea been well received it may very well have been a disaster.  My idea was unconventional, but we weren’t going to be downing beer bongs, or performing for the producers of a Gone Wild video.  I was just a girl in college wanting to do something spirited and out of the ordinary.  That’s an impulse that the realities of life have done a pretty good job of suppressing in the adult me.  I’m not usually like that 19 years old girl in my story anymore.  Somewhere along the way the grown up version of her lost that spirit of spontaneity and good clean fun silliness, but I’m working on it!

This past weekend my husband and I made another pilgrimage of sorts.  We took a trip to Chicago’s Soldier Field to watch my all time favorite band, play the opening concert on their North American tour.   I have loved the band U2 since the mid 80s.  When they did their Joshua Tree tour in 1987 I was a full fledged fan!  (As I remember it, the closest they came to my hometown was Vancouver BC and I knew there would be no way I was getting there!) In all these years that they have been touring I have never managed to get to one of their shows.  You know how these things go… a bill to pay, a baby to find a sitter for, a job you can’t get the time off from, you pick the excuse, I had it and made it… but this time I just went for it!

It was as if I was as free and as spontaneous as the girl who wanted to see U2 over 20 years ago.  We waited like groupies for the band to arrive to the stadium and bought concert tee shirts and programs, and took lots of goofy self-portrait style pictures of ourselves to document the occasion.  From the moment the drumbeat of Breathe came pounding out from the center of the massively erected stage I was a wildly excited fan!  I didn’t sit down the entire show!  When it was over my voice was raspy from all of my cheering and singing to the top of my lungs!  It was great to be so care free and I had a BLAST!  All moments of pure youthful spontaneity that I will surely never forget!

My husband Randy and I at U2 in Chicago!

My husband Randy and I at U2 in Chicago!

Our view of the Magnificent U2 Stage!

Our view of the Magnificent U2 Stage!

My Son, Nemo, and Growing Up

Today I watched Finding Nemo with my 5 year old son. Well, to be more accurate, I was trying to get some “stuff” done and the movie was a vain attempt to keep him occupied! As the movie played along, I found myself getting drawn in to the little fish story once again, only this time I couldn’t help but think about how we are in the last of my little boy’s preschool years. I know… how sentimental of me! I can’t even say that ordinarily I wouldn’t be that way, but truth be told I am! But I have to say, for excuses sake ;), that I find myself surrounded by lots of other friend mommies who are sending their babes off into the big, big world for the first time, and I find myself holding on to him just a little more closely.

It’s funny this time around with my son.  Our oldest daughter is now 14, our second oldest daughter is 12 and both are completely submerged in the world of teenagers. Make-up, Cell Phone, Sports, Recreational Shopping, Dances (and the other dreaded ‘D’ word isn’t too far off)…. With the girls we are there. Sending them to Kindergarten seems like forever ago and sending them to College still seems very far off. (Surely I can live in denial for a couple more years right?) When I sent my oldest to Kindergarten I was a mess and when her sister went a year later, I was pathetic! At the time that my second daughter boarded her first big yellow school bus I was pretty certain that my “baby days” were over.  My little boy has been my bonus, the child I desperately wanted but believed I would never have, and the notion that he has been something of a second chance is not lost on me.

So today, as I joined him on the couch to enjoy the way that his little body fits just right next to mine, I swallowed hard at the lump in my throat as I listened to the little fish story. There were 2 parts of the story that really resonated with me today. The first was when Crush (the turtle) and Marlin (Nemo’s dad) are swimming the EAC (East Australian Current) and the dialogue goes like this…

Crush: Curl away, my son. Awe, it’s awesome, Jellyman.

The little dudes are just eggs. We leave ‘em on a beach

to hatch… and then coo-coo-cachoo… they find their way

back to the big ol’ blue!

Marlin: All by themselves?

Crush: (Sh)yeah.

Marlin: Bbbbbutbutbut, dude, how do you know when they’re ready?

Crush: Well, you never really know. But when they know, you’ll know, you know?

The second part takes place at the end of the movie when Mr. Ray (the Stingray) comes to pick Nemo up for the first day of school…

Mr. Ray: Hold on! Here we go! Next stop—Knowledge!

Marlin: Bye, Son! Have fun!

Nemo: Bye, Dad!

Mr. Ray swims away with Nemo on board.

Nemo: Oh! Mr. Ray, wait! I forgot something.

Nemo swims back to his Dad, panting, and quickly snuggles hard into his side for a hug.

Nemo: Love you, Dad.

Marlin: I love you, too, Son.

Marlin hugs Nemo even closer.

Nemo: Dad? You can let go now.

Marlin: (letting go quickly) Sorry…

Marlin: Now, go have an adventure!

I know my time is coming. I know soon enough we won’t be spending our days together watching movies in the afternoon, or playing on the swing set, or pretending to be spies. I will walk him to his classroom as he excitedly runs ahead of me toward his grown up little self. And when we get there I hope I can be like Marlin and with love and confidence say, “Now, go have an adventure!”

First Day of Pre School!

First Day of Pre School!

Canning

Four years ago when we were moving here I made a rash decision.  You see that is easy to do when you are having a moving sale on your driveway while the moving truck is being packed on the street.  Suddenly when you are faced with packing up all your worldly goods to ship them 2000 miles a lot of things seem to loose their value.  That was the story with all of my canning supplies.  I don’t even remember what I got for them, but in an instant when the woman with her curious and critical yard sale eye looked them over and asked, “Are these for sale?”  I said, “Sure!” and just like that, years of collecting and planning was loaded in to her trunk!

When I chose a stove for our new home, I thought about that rash decision and decided I must not have really wanted to pursue canning anymore and chose a ceramic cook top.  For the most part I like it.  I have vacillated on the gas vs. electric debate and on this particular day I must have been feeling electric.  Over the years there has only been one thing the stovetop has left me wanting for, to be able to can.

Growing up I thought my mom was “Super Mom.”  Her home was kept neat as a pin, she never missed any activity we were in, she volunteered countless hours at school, planned summer camps for the Girl Scouts, chaperoned youth group trips, made a home cooked meal every night… I’m getting exhausted with just making the list and she was the mother of 4 kids 2 ½ years apart!  At some point in the summer, usually after camp and before school started, the fruits would arrive.  I remember peaches and pears hiding out in boxes waiting for just the right firmness and in a flurry she would begin.  Sometime the process would be days on end and sometimes spaced out, it was up to the fruit.

Our families galley style kitchen would be over taken with jars and bands, sinks full of floating peaches, or a pot on the stove with a food mill on top, and always was the presence of a very large dark blue enamelware pot.  The canner would steam away on the stove and fill the air with a thick humidity that was so out of the ordinary in our Northwest home.   When she was done the counters would show like stained glass.  Each fruit like a color of an artist palate glowing from within the shiny clear jars.   I remember watching her carefully tip jars of jam to watch the consistency and listen for the ping that would signal that the lids had properly sealed.  I remember thinking it was a lot of work for something you could just go buy at the grocery store!

A month ago I went back to my mom’s home to gather some of her belongings to take home with me.  One of the things I wanted to have was her canning book.  Reading it has been something like looking through a journal and a diary.  A lot of facts and a lot of feeling!  I have really enjoyed it and it has reignited the desire to can for my own family.  Boy was I wrong as a kid!  After years of searching I have found that NOTHING compares to my mom’s home canning!  (Although Hood Crest out of Hood River, OR comes very close!)  So that meant that my dilemma needed solving and my budget doesn’t allow for replacing my stovetop!

In my quest for finding a solution I ran across a comment someone posted about the Masterbuilt Turk’N’Surf.  This appliance is a turkey fryer that can also double as a crab pot.  The person commenting said that they used it for canning and it worked for them.  It is electric, which means I can use it indoors.  I’d consider that a plus, not canning outdoors in the Midwest = much less humidity!  I decided to give it a try and ordered one.   On Labor Day we took the kids to Stone’s Apple-Barn and armed with my Turk’N’Surf and 40 pounds of apples I set out to see what I could do.   It worked great and there was even the benefit of not having a canner on the stovetop, so I could use all of the burners for cooking!  Here are some pictures of my mom’s book and the canning results:

My Mom's Canning Cook Book.

My Mom's Canning Cook Book.

Some of Mom's Notes...

Some of Mom's Notes...

The Turk'N'Surf- LOVED IT!

The Turk'N'Surf- LOVED IT!

16 Quarts of Apple Sauce = Love in a Canning Jar!

16 Quarts of Apple Sauce = Love in a Canning Jar!

Why Blog?

So you might be wondering why I decided to start blogging?  Well, I’m kind of wondering that to…  I guess when it comes down to it, I have 3 reasons, two of them are girls, and one is a boy, all of them are amazing!  They, along with my own relationship with my mom are the inspiration for why I write.

When I think about the kind of relationship I want to have with my kids when they are grown, what I hope things will “be like”, one of the things that I often hope for is to be able to sit down to a nice meal with them, at a restaurant or in one of our homes, and be able to talk.  I mean really talk, like the kind of conversation that you have that is still going long after the plates have been cleared and the waiter is just dropping in occasionally for refills of your cup.  To talk about anything, religion, politics, their loves and losses, and have the safety and understanding that it is OK to disagree.  To have that kind of relationship with them would be a gift and it is the type of relationship that I look forward to and miss all at the same time.

I was blessed with some amazing parents!   The whole story will unfold over time, but in order to know where I’m coming from you need to know that my beautiful mom died of cancer in January 2005.  She was a truly great woman.  I can’t even adequately express how much I adored her!  I was so blessed to have such a relationship as I described with my own mom, and it is only since her passing that I have come to see just how rare that is.  I’m not saying that when she was alive I didn’t know we had a something unique, I really did, and I’m not saying that we didn’t have our disagreements, because we sure had those too, but after my loss many people have told me how their own experiences are so different.

It was in a Grief Recovery group that I began really examining this sort of parent/child relationship.  When someone you love dies there’s a lot of stuff to make sense of, and it was really important to me to keep my mom’s memory real.  I didn’t want my memory of  her to turn into some super hero-angel-princess-perfect who never really existed.  (Although sometimes that does creep in just a little.)  Someone in our group began to talk about regrets and our group facilitator invited us all to talk about the subject.  I was remembering back to some of the more unpleasant moments between my mom and I and the feeling of regret came crashing in.  That’s when the light came on.  The best way I know how to describe it is like this… a diamond.

Like the diamond I wear in my wedding ring, our relationship was beautiful.  It was full of color, it was vibrant, and it was multi-faceted, and like even the most precious diamond it had some flaws.  Did those flaws mean I didn’t love the rest of it?  Of course not!  Sometimes the easiest way for a jeweler to know if a diamond is real or a fake is by looking for the characteristics of the real thing, and that includes the  flaws.  I began to look at those regrets as part of the beautiful markings of what made our relationship real.  I don’t want this to sound like we were always at each other, because we weren’t, but in thinking about the journey ahead of me with my own children, I think it was an important thing to think about.   It won’t always be perfect, but it will be real!

Along with keeping it real, I’ve been feeling a need to keep a journal for my kids.  I’m sure you’ve heard the idea before, and most likely from an tragic story about a parent who is leaving a journal for their children after their eminent death.  What a courageous and beautiful thing to do.  This is NOT why I am doing it, but quite the opposite.  I want to share myself with them while I am here and this is just one more way to do it!

Sometimes when they are at school or when they are asleep and I’m still up, these thoughts come to me that I wish I could tell them.  Sometimes I write them down, sometimes I don’t , but in my mind they keep coming up, and always it is because I love them, and I want them to know that I love them!   Some of the most beautiful things my mom ever said to me were words that she had written, of course she followed them up with her actions, but I treasure her written words, which were usually signed “With Love, Mom”.   I want them to know, like I knew, that they will never be adored by anyone like they  are adored by their mom.  Yes, others will love them as well, but it will be different than my love for them.

So, thanks for joining me, and let the blogging begin!

My Mom and I on my Wedding Day.

My Mom and I on my Wedding Day.

A Little Bit About Me…

IMG_1560

Hi, I’m Vicki and I am blessed beyond what I ever imagined!  I am the wife of a great husband and the mom of 3 amazing kids.  Along with enjoying them, I love to cook, travel, garden, and lately… write, which is why I am now blogging!  I have always enjoyed a good story and I’ve been wanting to document some of my own for my kids.  God has seen me through a lot of ups and downs.  I’ve learned that in life there are often a lot of loose ends, and it isn’t always pretty, but a really lived life seems to be like that.  Let’s see how it goes…