Tag Archive | Soccer

It’s the little old ladies from Baltimore


We had a cheerfully chaotic day yesterday; Grandpa was visiting from the Eastern Shore, and Grandma was down from Baltimore.  Since the tribe knew my parents were both coming to see them (it’s rare for both of them to be here at the same time), the early morning hours simmered with excited anticipation, with Beanie and Bugaboo both zipping out of their room before 6:30 to inquire about Grandma’s projected arrival time.  Mr. Man and Baby Guy opted to sleep until Grandma arrived around 9, at which time they joined in the little festival of hugs and cheers that generally heralds the beginning of a visit.  After we stowed her overnight gear, we loaded the kids into the van and headed off for Beanie’s second-to-last soccer game of the season.  Grandpa met us at the field; it was the first time he’d been able to see either of the girls play, so his camera was constantly clicking.

Beanie did manage to stay focused on soccer for about half of the time, which was astounding given that Grandma and Grandpa are two of her favorite people, and she’d much rather hang around with them than follow instructions from anyone else. Fortunately, Grandpa was able to convince her that he’d be really happy if he could see her run and kick the ball, so that got her moving in the correct direction.  We came home for lunch after soccer, put the boys down for naps, saw Grandpa back off, and settled in for some quiet time with the girls.

While Grandma was happy to time her visit to coincide with Beanie’s soccer game, the real purpose of her visit was to enjoy our Mother’s Day gift to each other.  Among the many things for which I owe a debt of gratitude to my Mom is the time and effort she spent nurturing my appreciation for the arts, taking me to galleries for Degas exhibits, to the symphony, the theatre, the ballet, and the opera.  She ensured that I would have an ear for the beaux arts and an understanding of proper dress and conduct while attending fine art performances or displays.

In addition to fostering my appreciation for high culture, my mother also spent a fair amount of time listening to other kinds of music with me; we both love jazz, Motown, 80s hair bands, beach music, big band, novelty songs generally, swing, early rap, British invasion bands, soul, and funk.  I draw the line at disco, she draws the line at (really) heavy metal, but we’ve never had any trouble agreeing on a radio station in the car. Because of our mutual love of nearly all music, I called her when our local concert venue released its 2012 schedule, with a laugh and a smile, and asked her if she’d like to catch a band for Mother’s Day this year.

She thought it was a grand idea, and we two little grey-haired ladies had a tremendous time at the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert last night.  I love that my 67-year-old mom can still rock with any crowd, and the people watching was excellent.  We danced, we sang, we laughed, and we belted out “Gimme Three Steps” waving three fingers in the air.  We also spent a good amount of time snickering at the large number of Confederate flags being waved about.  Hey, we’re from Baltimore.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You commanded us to honor our mothers and fathers.  Thank You for the opportunity to honor my parents by sharing what they love best with them.  Help me teach Your blessings that the gifts my husband and I will cherish most are not the things our children can buy in a store, but the time they freely give to share those pursuits that bring us happiness.  Thank You for the length of years You have granted Grandma, Grandpa, Nana, Deedaw, and Nonno, and, as their years advance further, help us set an example for Your blessings of how to love our parents by caring for them with happy hearts.  Kindle in us the grace of gratitude for the opportunity to serve them in love of them, and love of You.

Rolling, rolling, rolling


Yesterday brought a flurry of fun to our humble abode, as Beanie had a soccer game and Bugaboo had a Daddy date at the roller rink.  Since neither of these events required a departure time before 10 a.m., it seemed like a good morning to make pancakes and sausage for breakfast; while I was cooking, the girls decided they needed to phone a couple of relatives and invite them to join their adventures.  Beanie called Nonno and Deedaw, and was delighted to learn that they would, in fact, be attending her game, which would give her a five-person cheering section, since Baby Guy and Mr. Man were in our traveling contingent.  Bugaboo had to leave a message for the uncle she tried to reach, but in all honesty, she didn’t seem all that disappointed that she would get Daddy all to herself.

After breakfast was eaten and appropriate attire was donned, Beanie, the boys and I headed off to the local high school where a saintly woman teaches tiny people the fundamentals of soccer.  The sky was clear, the sun was warm, we had a double stroller, crackers, and water bottles, and were ready for a morning of fresh air.  When I left, my husband was cleaning off the rollerblades he hasn’t used since at least 2002 while Bugaboo helpfully dusted his knee pads and chattered excitedly about learning to skate.  It took me a minute to get her attention so I could give her a kiss goodbye.

Mr. Man was far more enthusiastic about exploring all the leafy green growing things in our front yard than getting into the van so we could get Beanie to her game on time, so by the time he was buckled into his car seat with a very stern admonition not to ever push the button that closes the van door when Mommy’s body is blocking the door, we were running tight on time.  Thankfully, traffic was light, but we still had a bit of a dash to get to the field, me sprinting with a double stroller filled with squirmy little boys, Beanie clinging to the side of said stroller and trying to keep up a stream of chatter about everything she saw while running.  We got to the field with about ninety seconds to spare, and I had a little pep talk with Beanie while Mr. Man and Baby Guy raided the diaper bag for snacks and toys.  It went a little something like this:

“Are we going to keep our eyes on Coach Jackie and the big girls today?”
“YEAH!”
“Are we going to do what Coach Jackie and the big girls ask us today?”
“YEAH!”
“Are we going to have fun with our teammates?”
“YEAH!”
“Are we going to stay on the field?”
“YEAH!”


This picture is from her first game.

Beanie has a great love for the giant orange watercooler the coach and her assistants bring to the games.  She likes to hug it, and finds the little pushbutton tap fascinating.

“Are we going to use our water bottle instead of hanging out with the watercooler?”
“YEAH!”
“Yay, Beanie!  Look, there’s your team with Coach Jackie!  Run run run run run!”

After a quick hug and kiss, thirty-eight inches of high explosive sprinted off to join her teammates.  She overshot them by about fifty feet, being caught up in the utter joy of a full-bore sprint on a sunny day.  Luckily, she remembered what she was supposed to be doing, and hurried back.  For the first half of practice, she did a stellar job of following instructions and staying with her team.  After the mid-practice water break, though, she had a little trouble sticking with the program, and I was grateful for Nonno and Deedaw’s arrival so I could herd her back into the field of play a couple of times.  She did manage to kick a goal, and to kick a ball out of the goal, but she wore out with about five minutes of soccer time to go, and decided to play at being Spider-Man on the goal netting instead.  Since Beanie has two months to go before she turns four, I count that a success.

In the meantime, we had borrowed a full-sized ball from the hoard in the middle of the field, and Mr. Man had a gigglingly good time playing a little soccer with Nonno — who coached my husband’s soccer teams back in the day.  Deedaw sat neat the stroller and Baby Guy, laughing at Beanie’s enthusiastic efforts and Baby Guy’s intense interest in the grass.  By the end of practice, grandparents and grandchildren were pretty tired, so we shared a round of hugs and kisses, then parted ways.  After a quick stop for lunch, we headed home to get the boys a much-needed nap and await the return of Bugaboo and Daddy.

Beanie was pretty tuckered out, too, so we piled a couple of pillows on the couch and snuggled up to watch the season finale of My Little Pony.  She curled up behind my legs, hugged my calves, and whispered, “I love you, Mommy.  I’m glad I get you all to myself,” before sighing happily and hugging her pillow while she watched Twilight Sparkle save Canterlot.

About an hour and a half later, Bugaboo and Daddy returned home, bearing a week’s supply of milk (four gallons, if you were wondering), a container of my favorite Wegmans sushi, our one working camera, a blue glow stick, and gigantic, if tired, smiles.  Bugaboo burbled on about her great skating adventure while I mouthed to my husband, “Did she actually skate?”  He nodded yes, I did a quick visual check to make sure there were no bandages or plaster casts on either of them, then settled in to hear the account of Bugaboo’s day out.

Apparently, I had no sooner left with the rest of the tribe than Bugaboo informed Daddy it was time for them to leave as well.  She has picked up my tendency to want to be five minutes early for arrival or opening times, so we don’t miss anything and have time for disaster management if needed.  Off they went to the skating rink, where my husband discovered he was the only Dad on rollerblades, but far from the only Dad accompanying his little girl on her very first roller skating outing (he also shared the useful information that during the little-kid open skate, adults can be on the skating floor in their socks to help little wobblers along, which bodes well for Mr. Man’s chances of learning to skate soon).  The Saturday morning skate is a Disney-themed event, with the result that the attendees are mostly within a couple of years of Bugaboo’s age.

Having acquired a pair of rental skates for Bugaboo, Daddy proceeded to switch out Tink sneakers for boots with wheels, and helped our oldest daughter carefully walk across the carpeted walkway around the skating rink itself.  She figured out pretty quickly that all she had to do was walk on these strange contraptions, and she would move forward.  While she is still a little shaky about the idea that she will keep moving even if she doesn’t immediately take another step, she definitely had a good time, managing a couple of complete circuits of the rink.  She even managed to use the potty without removing her skates.  Not too shabby for a not-quite-five-year old.  My husband apologizes for the lack of pictures of Bugaboo actually skating, but he was busy holding her hands.  He has his priorities in the proper order, methinks.

At any rate, after an hour or so of learning to skate, Bugaboo complained the rental skates were tight on her feet (she inherited wide feet from both of her parents), and asked if she could take her skates off and go to the play zone.  Since Daddy did not realize there is a separate charge for the play zone, he helped her off with her skates and sent her off to play.  She merrily climbed, slid, and bounced until another little girl stopped her with the admonition, “You’re not supposed to be in here.  You don’t have a wristband.”  A third youngster took the admonisher to task, “Hey, that’s not very nice.”  Bugaboo, however, seeing the wristbands on her two playmates’ forearms and noting the lack of one on her own, came down from the netting into Daddy’s waiting arms.  He hugged her and told her he was proud of her for following the rules when told about them, and apologized to her for not knowing she needed a wristband.

After that, they headed for the snack bar to get a little lunch.  Bugaboo opted for a slice of pizza and a small bottle of water, while Daddy had a hot dog and a big bottle of water.  Apparently, while Bugaboo was in the play zone, Daddy reacquainted himself with the joy of rollerblading, and had managed to work up quite a sweat.   Since Bugaboo was tired of skating and Daddy wasn’t sure how to get a wristband for the play zone, they decided to head out in search of further adventures once they’d eaten their lunches.  My husband asked our eldest what she would like to do next, and, without hesitation, she replied, “We could go to Toys ‘R’ Us and I could point out what I’d like for my birthday.”

That’s actually kind of a ritual around here.  While our kids don’t watch a lot of TV, they do watch enough that they see ads for lots of toys.  We’ve taken the time to explain to them that advertisements are designed to make people want to buy things, and that what you see on TV isn’t necessarily real.  I actually did a “proof of concept” them on this about a year ago — they saw an ad for those “Sham-Wow” things and thought they looked like a lot of fun, and since they kept insisting they HAD to have them, I ordered a set.  Reality quickly dawned on them, and they haven’t really trusted commercials since. If one of them sees a toy she thinks looks like fun, she’ll usually ask for a trip to the store to inspect it and see what it actually does.

Off to the toy store they went, Bugaboo explaining to Daddy that she understood no purchases would be made that day.  We now know what her little heart’s desires are, and, as usual, it’s an interesting mix, with everything from a Strawberry Shortcake scooter to an Optimus Prime helmet making the list.  After the toy store, father and daughter went to Wegmans to restock our milk supply, pick up a surprise for Mommy (the aforementioned sushi), and get a small container of macaroni and cheese for Bugaboo, who was hungry again.

The boys were still sacked when the traveling party came home, so after we had shared stories of our respective adventures, we decided to read stories to the girls with the Capitals game on, muted, in the background.  By the time the boys awoke, I had started dinner and Daddy, exhausted, was napping on the couch.  After a hearty dinner where everyone, including Baby Guy, had seconds of something (he is developing a serious addiction to spinach with ricotta), the ambulatory members of the tribe boiled out the back door for a post-meal romp in the back yard.  Baby Guy, in the meantime, decided to play tug with Smudgie (thankfully, he is the gentlest of giants), since Bo was on guard duty with the other three tiny people.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, in the very beginning of the book of Your love letters to us, we read of the vastness and majesty of Your creation.  Your blessings explored as many parts of it as possible today, from the sun and wind to the beasts and plants You created to feed us to the simple joy of a canine companion.  You called the little children to come to You, and we are trying to teach them that whenever they pause to greet another person, admire the brightness of a sunny day, or appreciate the taste of their food, they are approaching You with a prayer of thanksgiving for Your great bounty.  Thank you for these days of wonder You have granted us with Your blessings, and for allowing us to recall the simple faith and joy of our youth through their eyes.  Please help us teach them that when the world is too complex, returning to the simple things created by You brings us closer to each other and You, and You will fill our hearts with happiness when we love You and each other.

Not that kind of football


To my very great wonderment, Beanie, who was a hair under five pounds at birth, is now considered by our county’s parks and recreation department to be of an age to play soccer.  Her first practice and game, which were today, have been quite the hot topic around here all week; she’s had me checking to make sure her shinguards hadn’t been lost at least four times a day.  Fortunately, kids her age are not required to wear cleats, as she is such a tiny girl that there are no cleats within two sizes of her shoe size.

What the Beanie lacks in size, she makes up in fearlessness and raw energy.  Daddy and I decided pretty quickly that our best bet for capturing our littlest girl’s maiden foray into the world of team sports was to just let the video roll, as she was rarely still long enough to snap a decent photo.  Once she had been outfitted with the requisite royal blue shirt which allowed the coaches to sort the tiny people into teams, she headed off in search of soccer balls, cones, miniature goals, and about three dozen other preschoolers.

Since Daddy got to be team dad last year while I stayed home with the tribe, he generously chose to ride herd on Bugaboo, Mr. Man and Beanie so I could soak up all the sights and sounds of the first soccer practice of the four-year old league.  I must mention here that a certain soccer coach from the high school at which the practices and games are held, along with about half of the girls’ varsity squad, almost certainly have a special place in Heaven reserved for them for freely giving their spring Saturdays to help dozens of small children learn to play and enjoy a team sport.

Beanie’s jersey number is 4, incidentally.  At any rate, this beautiful lady who coaches this mob explained to them at the beginning of practice that in some places, soccer is called football because you use your feet to move the ball.  I may have forgotten to mention that Beanie is completely obsessed with being allowed to play real football, to the delight of her cousins at family gatherings, and she became rather excited when informed that she was, in fact, playing football.  It would have been lovely if she had simply transferred her enthusiasm to soccer; however, she chose instead to attempt to hike the soccer ball — several times, in fact.

I’d encourage you to watch the video if you’d like to get a feel for what went on; it’s fun to watch, and most of the kids had a terrific time.  There are four more on my channel, and I now need a new memory card.

If you’re lacking in time or bandwidth, please allow me to present a quick photo essay.

She went all Spiderman on us and tried to explain that the goal was her web.  It took my husband a while to untangle her.

The mini goals were very cool.  She had a terrific time moving them around.

Go, Beanie, go!

She brings a formidable cheering section with her.

Getting psyched up for a four on four scrimmage, and frustrated with her sticky name tag.  Youngest and smallest, remember?

She still threw herself right into the fray.  Shortly after this, she just wore out.  Yep, there’s video of that, too.

Plumb tuckered out.

She also informed us that she would like a giant orange water bottle for her birthday.  We’re thinking about it.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have enriched our lives with so many people who give freely of their time and talent so that we may learn new skills, including the skill of how to follow instructions given by people who aren’t Mommy and Daddy and the skill of playing cooperatively with a team.  Thank You for each of them, and please bless them with peace, good health, and at least as much joy as they’ve brought us.  You have given each of us a unique ministry, some special way to love each other, some gift to share.  Please help Your blessings take this lesson from the generous ladies who are sharing theirs without expecting anything in return except the company of small children on spring mornings.  Please keep me mindful that true charity is giving as You did, without demands for compensation of any kind.