Monday, April 30, 2012

Youth Sports=Crazy Land

It was cold.   My fingers were too cold to type updates to Tim (who was at home with the other kids) or distract myself by being hilarious on Twitter. But not too cold to cross them and I did.

When he stepped up to bat, my stomach tensed up and like a naive child, I crossed my damn fingers.  Hoping that my 10-year-old kid got a hit at his baseball game.  A hit that he felt good about. A hit that would make other parents believe he was worthy of being on the team.  

He did get a hit.  He did some killer base running and stole home.  I let out the breath that I had been holding and unlaced my fingers.  Until the next at bat, or anytime a ball headed his way in the field.

Youth sports parents are f-ing crazy.  And I'm one of them now.  I've crossed over into f-ing crazy land.

I have yet to reconcile my belief in the benefits of competition, being part of a team, and being active and healthy with my belief in the benefits of having fun, being flexible with time and compassionate to different skill levels.

Peyton used to play in a what I thought was a very relaxed flag football league.  The kids were in first grade.  Some of the parents (especially on a particular team that would "vs. us" as the kids would say) were beyond a little intense.  You know the type, yelling and screaming, veins popping out of their necks.  And that was just a few of the moms, the dads were so much worse.

I stood on the sideline quietly judging with disgust.  "They are insane," I said in my head.  "They are borderline abusive," I judged in my head.  But when Peyton's team scored I was doing a touchdown, rub-it-in-your-face dance, in my head of course.

It is all so confusing to me.  Is this fun?  I want the games to mean something, just not everything.  I want to win, but not at any cost.  We have yet to find a team, in any sport, where either  some parents didn't give a shit or some parents were far too invested, as if their kid's college scholarship depended on the season.

Talk to most people that played sports at the collegiate level and they will tell you they weren't that intense at 10.  They didn't practice every night, have a personal trainer, special diet, etc.  (Note: we don't have this and hope to god we never do until maybe high school.)  Some of the guys that I do know that had a lot of pressure burned out, peeked early, resented the sport or the people that put all the pressure in the first place.

There was a documentary on ESPN a few months ago that offered a cautionary was about Todd Marinovich and his father Marv.  Spoiler alert, although it's a true story and if you know sports you might know this story, Todd is pushed by his dad to play football. He makes it to the NFL, but ends up being a massive drug addict.  There are so many sad parts of the story.  

I absolutely love ESPN films.  No joke.  First of all I am fascinated with good (and sometimes bad) filmmaking in general.  But secondly, they are really f-ing good.  You don't like sports?  Doesn't matter.  Sports are about life--relationships, overcoming obstacles, beating the odds and sometimes not beating the odds.  And these movies capture all of it, whether it is about boxing or football, hockey or track and field.

Every now and then, when Tim or I are getting a little too intense we ask the Marv question, i.e. "what would Marv do?" And we do the opposite of course.

We joke about Marv, but Tim and I are in serious need of role models right now.  And I just may have found them.

I was mesmerized by the best story in baseball last week--the foul ball Rangers fans.  Heard of them?  

Their three-year-old didn't get the foul ball that was tossed in the stands.  The overly perky couple sitting next to them grabbed the ball, proceeded to take pictures with the ball and laugh and high five.  All while the little three-year-old cried his eyes out.  So what did the young parents do?  Throw a fit? Demand the ball to get their child to stop crying?  Sue the perky couple? the Rangers organization?  Did they go on Access Hollywood and claim their five minutes of fame with tears of how unfair it was?

No.  They appeared on The Today Show the next morning and demonstrated compassion, grace, calmness and thoughtfulness.  They wished the other couple well and hoped people "weren't too hard on them."  They were glad their son didn't get the ball because they turned it into a life lesson--you can't always get what you want.  

Grabbing onto those learning lessons, teaching coping skills as children, better preparing them for adulthood and to be a caring citizen of the world.  That's the parent I want to be.

But it is so damn hard when you just want to stick it to some of the shitty, pushy parents.  When you think you are defending your kid, but it really becomes more about you and your issues.  Not about your opportunity to teach and parent with grace.  Bad news is I have a long way to go.  Good news is I have a big family and maybe by the fourth kid I'll have it down a little better.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ups and Downs and Dancing

So I definitely am an up and down type of person.  The good thing about that is that I really appreciate the ups.

And the ups always, I mean always, include dancing.

Here's to hoping you have a lot of ups this weekend.  Which means I hope you do a lot of dancing.

A few things I know for sure (this week):

I thought I was sick of Pitbull, I almost wanted to be sick of Pitbull, but I can't be sick of Pitbull. Even with dumb ass lyrics, I love him.  I love Pitbull. Enough Said.

Gloves should never be worn in April.
Do you like my vintage mismatched gloves?  Yeah, one of the gloves is a High School Musical glove of Lucy's from three years ago.  So what?

Even though there was a frost warning last night, I'm ready to plant.  I'm excited because this year is the year people that I will have the best, most fabulous garden ever. (Unlike every other year.)

I will always and forever love Tina Fey and Liz Lemon. (Especially when she dances.)

I may have had some shaky moments as a parent this week, but at least I wasn't mean.  Be warned, this next clip is funny, very funny (even if you aren't a fan of Family Guy).

I love comments, well at least the nice ones.  If you feel so inclined leave one here on this blog or on this week's newest installment of the Patch Series.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Right and Wrong and Swear Words

I tweet pictures of my kids and family.

I let my two littlest boys climb in my bed in the middle of the night. (But man, aren't they so amazingly adorable?)

I swear quite a lot.  Even though I don't swear in front of the children, my husband is disturbed.  He thinks I need to put a disclaimer on this blog like an "explicit" song warning. I think he's fucking over reacting. 

I could go on and on with the things I do that won't get me on a mother of the year list.  But that would be boring.  And guess what?  I do a lot right.  And I'm one proud mama.
My oldest son diligently does his homework, even when I forget to remind him.
My daughter is a voracious reader with an imagination that won't seriously it won't quit, everything is a story with Lucy.

I tweet because I want to share my beautiful, funny family.

I let the littlest boys climb in bed and snuggle because childhood is short and again, they are amazingly adorable.

I swear because, well, because I want to god damn it.

The other day Peyton and Lucy and I were having a very serious discussion about kidnappers.  There was a report of a man in the area trying to lure three 9-year-olds into his car.  The report made it's way to my kids' school and they were nervous.  

"Listen carefully," I said gravely.  "You run away, yell, scream your brains out, swear, do whatever you can to get away from someone trying to get you into their car."

Both of them sat in front of me, their eyes wide, their mouths open.  Uh-oh, I went too far was my first thought.  I made yet another parenting mistake--by trying to help them, I scared them more.  I over-informed.  

But I was wrong.

"We can swear?," Peyton asked in awe.  "Awesome."

"So cool," squealed Lucy.

What?  They had completely forgotten the lesson about getting away from kidnappers.  Do I bring it up again?  Do I remind them to "be scared, be very scared children" or not?

I chose not.  Because it just felt wrong.  They looked so happy dreaming about what swear words they were going to use.

(Don't worry I later made sure they took the stranger danger seriously and had tips on exactly what to do.)

It may not be picture perfect.  I may not do it the "right" way.
Um, who is in charge of cleaning off the toothpaste? Seriously.  Oh man, isn't he so cute trying to squeeze out the last of the AquaFresh?  
But I'm still one proud mama.

Hey check it out: The article I wrote for the Patch Drives series.  It's all about my relationship issues with cars. Don't forget to leave a comment if you want on the Patch site.  

Click here to like my Facebook page to get all my how-tos (more like how not-tos) on parenting. 

Click here to follow me on Twitter to see more cute pictures of my family (and there is more swearing by me too).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Closet Therapy

Spring has sprung, even though temps fell this past weekend.  I am continuing my quest to wear more color and be more of a fashionista. 

I'm linking up with the Pleated Poppy blog again for her "what I wore wednesdays." She started it as a place where a group of gals could share outfits and remind ourselves to get out of "our yoga pants slump and put a bit of effort into ourselves."  It's a place to get ideas for beginning fashionistas, who like me are struggling to get out of a few ruts.

I did go all bright and shiny for Earth Day--busting out a couple oldies, but goodies.

Bright yellow shirt-Old Navy circa 2006 or 2007

Blue long sleeve shirt-Ann Taylor circa, wait for it...1997

Black pants-Target

Maybe it was the cold temperatures.
My dreary closet.
Or my lack of imagination and color in my closet, but I fell back into some gray and black wardrobe choices.  I may not have a lot of color, but I do have a lot of old pieces. Did you happen to notice the blue shirt in the picture was from 1997?

Digging a little deeper into my closet I found a sweater from 1991.  A sweater I had my high school senior picture taken in, still sitting on my shelf.  
That's my Bell Biv Devoe tribute pose, going all 1991 on you.

Sweater-Benetton circa 1991

Pants-Old Navy (like almost brand spanking new circa 2011)

Even though we didn't get snow here this past weekend, this sweater would've been a good choice at my son's baseball game.  It was 40 degrees and felt very, very cold.

The fashionista take away here? What does it all mean? 

What about this- Even if we fall back into some ruts, it's okay. Fashion is fun and not something to stress about.

Or this- It's a metaphor.  On the surface we might seem plain or one dimensional, all gray and no color.   But dig a little deeper.  There are layers of interesting.  There are memories of moments big and small.  There is a history to all of us.

Or maybe just this- Spring is a practical time to go through one's closet and see what fits and what doesn't.  Donate what is donate-able and make room for new favorite pieces that bring us joy and comfort.

Ahhh, once again, I feel indebted to Lindsay at the Pleated Poppy.  The fashionista exercise is good for my closet and my mind.

pleated poppy

And just because if I ever hear the words Bell Biv Devoe, I sing this song "Poison," here's the video.  
C'mon it happens to you too, right?

And also just because I can't think of a "what does it mean?" kind of post without thinking of this Double Rainbow YouTube classic.  I didn't cry when I looked in my closet, but I was asking myself "what does it mean?"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


The wheels won't quit turning. Spinning. Faster and faster.  I want to stop, but can't.

There's so much I need to do.  So much I want to do.  There's not enough time.  Never enough time.  Damn it, why was sleep invented?  I get tired.  I need sleep.  I sleep, but the wheels don't quit turning.

I wake up several times in the night hoping it's morning so I can get started....spinning again.

Morning comes and the wheels are going.  But nothing is getting done.  Piles of papers, kids' school work, bills, magazines stacked precariously high on the kitchen counter.  

I'm feeling overwhelmed.  Impatient.

Some parts of my mind are on fire...alive with creativity and new ideas.  Some parts of mind are pissed...feeling overwhelmed.  Some parts of my mind are confused, darting from idea to idea, bouncing around like a pinball.

I want to stop the wheels of my mind from spinning out of control, but can't.

This is what a brain with what I am convinced is ADHD feels like.  This is my brain. 

Sure it's a little like that scrambled egg in those old "this is your brain on drugs" commercials.  Except I'm not on drugs, but maybe I should be.  Except I don't want to be on drugs, because drugs scare the f*#& out of me (that PSA really stuck with me).

There's been a few articles and television shows about adult ADD/ADHD lately.  Last summer I took a quiz in a magazine, "You Might Have ADD If You Have These Symptoms" checklist.  And guess what?  I won that quiz.  Yay.

A few weeks ago I recorded a program, The Revolution, dealing with this subject.  Of course, I got too distracted and busy and forgot to watch it until it had been erased from my dvr.  But thank god for the internet.  
I watched a clip yesterday and showed it to my husband, Tim.  He and I were both nodding as we watched.  The specialist mentioned things like "trouble staying organized" "trouble sweating the details" "hyper focus and then zone out""frustration" "impatience."  Most of these trouble spots show up in my personal life, i.e. my relationships and my household management skills.

This is a crazy f-ing time to live with ADD, ADHD or borderline self-diagnosed ADD/ADHD.  

The pace of life is faster and faster. The distractions are bigger, better and everywhere.  From Twitter to smart phones we are connected all the damn time.  

Part of my brain loves it.  My creative, driven, artistic part of my brain thinks it's the best time to be alive, ever. Ever. My pinball, pissed off part of my brain is well, um, pissed and wishing it was eighteen hundred something.

You see, when the wheels won't stop spinning I feel incredibly frustrated with myself, and with others.  I read a quote about life, from a blogger that I love.  She wrote that she was "working from a place of stress and compulsion rather than from a place of rest and compassion." Sigh, brilliant. She wasn't referring to anyone's ADD, but man it sure sums up how I'm feeling lately. At least with those crazy pinball parts of my brain, not all of it.

This week, I am going to begin again, again.  I am going to take more deep breaths.  I am going to forgive myself.  I am going to accept others. I am going to slow down. I am going to rest.  I am going to show compassion--to others and myself.

I'm going to love all the parts of my brain, even those damn crazy parts.

Thank god for artists like Ani Difranco, that make crazy complicated look so damn cool.  "I'm a poster girl with no poster" sums me up. Thank you Ani.

Of course before Ani, there was Edie Brickell.  "What I am, is what I am" you know what I mean?

Monday, April 23, 2012

It Was Good

This past weekend was good.

It was perfect.  Full of sunshine, happiness and not one bad moment.  Everyone got along and life was beautiful.

Well of course that is overselling it a bit.  But it was good.

There was hours and hours of baseball games.  
There was hours and hours of Barbies.  

There was hours and hours of cars.
Glad none of the parents worry too much about their kids getting dirty at the baseball games. 
There was even a little time for a hot date.  
Which consisted of sneaking a gluten-filled pizza in the house after hours and watching an episode of The Good Wife.  We are one wild and crazy couple.

Of course, it wasn't perfect.  It was freezing at all the baseball games and we wore snow hats and winter coats.  JT got stuck in a tree, 20 feet up in a tree (of course we got him down safely).  Lucy was highly emotional and reacting in big ways to every little thing.  I fell asleep on the couch Friday night while Tim was telling me about his day.  

But the good this weekend outweighed all the dumb imperfect moments and to be honest it's been a long time since we had a weekend when that happened.  It was definitely a good weekend.

Check it out: I wrote a guest post for a great blog Ring Around the Rosies  
Jaima's blog has so many great tips, like this post on Freezer Cooking.
I met Jaima at BlissDom last February.  She was so nice to me, especially when I was such a lost little lamb in a field of big time blogging sheep.  

Don't forget to like the Facebook page and start following me on Twitter, you won't regret it, well you might and then you can just un-follow me.

Friday, April 20, 2012

CrazyBusy and What I Know For Sure (this week)

It's been a crazy busy week.

There have been so many fun things--from picnics on the playground to new writing/video opportunities.

And here's what I know for sure:

I am going to miss which is the web site where I made all my photo collages. The above collage is my last Picnik collage because the web site is closing, bummer.

My new t-shirt from The Mitten State is AWESOME. If you love Michigan (or like me and just finally accepting that you will be living here forever and learning to love it), this is a great company--fun shirts, vintage shirts and made in Michigan baby.
(If you want to order a shirt click here.)
My family is healthy and I am very grateful. 
I spent some time at a children's hospital for a project I'm working on and boy did it put things in perspective for me.  After seeing families worry about their kids and smile and laugh with their kids in hospital gowns--you better believe I went home and smiled a little bigger and hugged my kids a little tighter.

I may have missed the boat on watching Revenge (I'll get it on dvd people, relax), but I never miss a Real Housewives of New Jersey.  And I know for sure I'm looking forward to the season premiere this Sunday night. Not sure if I can handle the drama this season.

Check out the video I made for my local

I had no idea I knew this for sure until very recently....I love The Wendy Williams Show. I thought I didn't like her, but I do.  She is fun.

I am totally going to build a teepee in my backyard this summer.  Since we are renting our house,  we don't want to buy a big swing set or build a tree house, so the portable teepee seems like a good option.  This is a great how-to video from the folks at KinCommunity (great YouTube channel).

Sure, the teepee may not last long with my rowdy boys. And yeah, before they knock it down the only one that may use the teepee is me, to hide and get some peace and quiet.  
But it might just be worth it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hyper Local

Hey, check me out.  I'm looking for a new ride and I get to do it with the help of my friends town.
Click here to read and watch.
I'm doing some fun stuff with"a community-specific news and information platform" from the great minds at AOL Huffington Post Media Group.  

They call it "hyper local" which I f-ing love.  My whole life I've been a bit hyper (except when I'm depressed, waaaah).  Yeah, I might've been called "spaz" in my school years.  But all those name calling bullies can suck it because now there are places for hyper people like me, places like my "hyper local"

And in the words of Karen Carpenter "we've only just begun," I will be test driving cars, writing about cars and maybe vlogging a bit about cars for the next couple months over on Patch.  

I'll keep you posted here every now and then on my journey.  

For some history on the my current ride, the van, click here.

Just because I had's the great Karen Carpenter, and her brother.  I love the Carpenters, but I'll save my Carpenters story for another blog post.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

You're A Mother--It's Hard But It's Great

"I love you, just go to bed," I told Wade, my 2-year-old, when he came out of his room for the 25th time last night.

"I think he's scared," Peyton, my 10-year-old, said to me.  "I think he needs you," he added.

My first reaction was annoyance.  I had things to do.  I had put in a full day, didn't they get that?  

I played games, I read stories, I made meals, I cuddled, I compromised, I mothered.  I was done.

Ready to watch my shows, write my stories, read my articles. Drink my wine, fight with my husband, be a grown up. I mothered, I was done.

But really, I knew better.  We mothers know better.  We are never done.  We will always be mothering.  

I laid down with Wade.  I did indeed have so much grown up stuff to do--bills to pay, laundry to fold, blog posts to write, shows to watch.  But Wade was scared for whatever reason, maybe from the new Scooby Doo shows he watched earlier in the day. If you haven't seen Scooby Doo lately, let me tell you they have upped the scary factor since we were kids.

I laid with him then tiptoed out of the room and then he got up and came downstairs and then I walked him back up, laid with him then tiptoed out of the room and get it.  We did this dance a dozen times until he fell asleep.

Each time I laid down with him I whispered "I love you so much, you are an amazing boy, such a good boy." I whispered it like a meditative self-help cassette tape I listened to years ago to try and help me get over my fear of flying.  "You do not fear being high above the world in an airplane" the tape told me all those years ago.

Well I hope Wade knows, even though I am trying to lull him into a peaceful sleep, I do believe the things I'm telling him.  While I am still afraid of flying, I want to believe that Wade knows I love him.

But who knows?  Who knows if all my mothering is making a difference?  Who knows if my sacrifices of sleep and career are making a difference?
I do know that mothers are in dire need of compassion from each other.  Whether you work outside the home, in the home or in the yard.  Whether you understand the economy or just know simply know the economy is making it difficult to make ends meet.  

There's been plenty a big deal made about the, ugh, mommy wars lately.  And I think it's crap.

It's crap that we, we mothers,turn on each other.  It's not a competition.  We all have shit in our lives, whether you work outside the home or not.  We all have a story, a past, demons we are fighting, mountains we are climbing, dreams we are chasing.  We are works in progress.  We are tired.  We are hopeful. We are trying our best.  We are tired.  We want nothing but happiness for our kids.  We pray. We hope.  We wish.  We worry.  We parent.  We cuddle. We compromise.  We mother.

Hey you Republican one percenter, yeah you.  Sure I'm jealous of your nanny, but I get that you have shit you're dealing with.  I get it.  You're a mother.  It's hard, but it's great.

Hey you, liberal lady, yeah you.  Sure, you seem like someone I would totally love to hang out with, but I get that you have shit you're dealing with.  I get it.  You're a mother.  It's hard, but it's great.

Get it?  We're all mothers.  It's hard, but it's great.

Here's a wonderful book of encouraging letters to mothers, from mothers.  It's an amazing project of support and camaraderie, yes it exits. 

Mother Letters E-book Trailer

Click on the link and download an ebook (PDF or Kindle) for only $6.99. 

Remind yourself how powerful positive reinforcements can be.  
We mothers sticking together--it's a pretty f-ing powerful thing. Because being a mother is hard, but it can be great.

Join the Jumping With Fingers Crossed Facebook experience.  Which is another way of saying "like" the page.  Click here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue...

It's National Poetry Month.
I know this fact, not because I am poetry hipster.  No, I know this fact because my second-and fourth-graders are studying poetry in honor of it being National Poetry Month.

Anytime my kids are doing something at school that actually interests me (I just don't care about math at all, sorry) I get very excited.  Excited to contribute, excited to share something with them.  Excited to rediscover an old love with/through my children.

I've always loved writing, storytelling, poetry, words.  Sigh.  Many times it is the only way I can express myself.  I have boxes full of journals that date back to fourth grade and many filled with ridiculous attempts at writing poetry. No worries, I'll spare you the dark, and what I used to think were so deep, poems about lost loves.
Lucy reading a beautiful poem for the family during dinner, while a shirtless Wade was slurping up noodles.
We are very civilized.

Spoken word poetry, slam poetry, def poetry jam.  Oh my, it is a dream to attend a live poetry slam someday.  Until then, thank god for YouTube.  Here's a woman that I love and she gave a speech (including this amazing poem) at TedTalks.  When I watch Tedtalks, much like listening to NPR, I always feel smarter.  Watch this.  Be inspired. Feel happier.  I promise.

I've mentioned my wall of words in my bathroom before, but here is the only poem on the wall.  It is cut from the original ditto I got in a college lit class a million years ago when people used words like "ditto." Great poem, great motto. 

Click here for ways to celebrate National Poetry Month.

Even if you don't read a poem, but listen to a little Jay Z, you will still be celebrating National Poetry Month.  Yeah, "Big Pimpin" is poetry.  Believe it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Less Mood Swings, More Lilacs

Life is great, anything is possible, it's spring and I love everything.  Smell those lilacs.  God is good.  Life is precious.  I love being alive.

Life is hard.  I'm so tired. I'm not doing enough.  There's never enough. Oh my God, life is horrible.  I need a vacation.  I don't want to be in charge anymore.

Oh but smell those lilacs.  Oh yeah, life is good, it's going to be okay.

Yup, my mood swings were pretty extreme this past weekend.  My poor husband.  

At the dinner table Sunday evening, the older kids started complaining about going back to school.  I always attempt to make my children better, more organized, less anxiety ridden, less neurotic, more positive, more relaxed than me.  So, I asked them to think of and share with the family one highlight of the weekend and one thing they were looking forward to for the week.  

"Playing our baseball tournament this weekend and gym class," replied Peyton.

"Spending time with daddy and seeing my friends," Lucy stated.

My first reaction was to be critical and ask why they weren't looking forward to learning about science and math and being better, smarter people.  But I held my tongue and nodded, grateful they had played my game without too much fuss.

No one asked, but I told them some of my highlights which included:
-A long run on Saturday morning.
-Waking up to JT saying "I love you mommy."
-Lucy's imagination.  She was playing Amelia Earhart yesterday and dressed the part.  She reminded me of little Ellie in the  movie Up. She actually reminds me of Ellie in so many ways.

-A chiropractor for Peyton.  I've never been someone that understood or believed in chiropractors.  Total skeptic.  But Peyton was hurting when he threw a baseball. Resting, icing and ibuprofen weren't helping.  But guess what did? An adjustment at the chiropractor.  I admit, I felt like throwing up watching the chiropractor toss my kid's head around, but he feels so much better. I'm a believer now.

-Watching the neighborhood play in my backyard with my kids.  I love it.

What am I looking forward to?

-My beloved routine (I love weekdays because of the structure.).

-My new obsession The Voice on Monday night.  Vote for Chris Mann!

-Kathy Griffin's new show on Thursday night on Bravo. Love her.

-Less mood swings and more lilacs.

-More people joining or liking the blog's Facebook page (click here) and more followers on Twitter (@AngelaYBlood).

-More of all the good stuff that were my highlights last week--imagination, good friends, healthy backs and good loving---what more could I really ask for? Life is good.