Peanut is 14

The last year has been a wild ride. When Covid hit, we thought we’d be done by the school year starting. That turned out to be utterly false, but this year was Peanut’s 8th grade year. Away we go.

Peanut,

Saturday you turned 14. This last year has been an adventure of Covid, on top of so many lasts. Some reminders have been tough. Missing your last birthday mass/social brought me sadness. But the joy you’ve brought on this journey of the last year at SACS, maturing to 14, and stepping up in so many ways, has been significant.

When we started the summer in quarantine, you were the little sister to a big brother and it was almost eerie to watch Sean and Erin er uh your cousin and you fight over things like how to clean a bathroom. The summer was a lot of outside time with the neighbors since we were all effectively stuck at home. You and the other big kids found ways to entertain and take them to parks, etc.

This last year at school was a little ridiculous. We had in school learning with masks and 2 months of distance learning thanks to a positive test in this house. You and I spent tons of car time every morning going to SACS and you walked home regularly.

What’s sticking out right now in my mind though, the most is the time we had traveling to High School softball practice. You made a decision to attend a different high school than we all anticipated and had the opportunity to play softball for them. You played every inning, every pitch at third base and I think you made about 2 mistakes. Everything else was dead on. You batted third every time (except that one time at 4th when they were trying something new). You even had their first steal of the season!

You were invited to play varsity as well, and I watched your confidence grow when the coach sent you in a tie game in the top of the 7th. He put you in a tie game in sectionals. (One of those you walked, one you didn’t make it on base). At some point you hit a double in a varsity game (say what… 8th grade doublin?)

Because you played so many games in Timbuktu, we had a lot of time to talk int eh car. Those conversations, from politics to what colors the trucks were will stick with me forever.

You are the simply the best (Tina Turner creds) with how you talk to your sisters and teammates, friends, parent, and adults. You attend the girls games (swim meets when allowed) and even take some great pictures of them. While your sisters may not appreciate it, you have been the best role model to them for what a sister looks like. Showing up, taking the good natured ribbing well, (I don’t know how often you were called short in the last 365 days), and dishing it back out.

While I cried a few times this last few weeks, because you ended your 10 years at SACS, I am incredibly proud of how they recognized you as a hard worker. focused and a leader. I cannot wait to see what the next 4 years will bring, but I know it will joy, pride, and amazement for the person you are.

Keep on being you and fighting the good fight. You are strong, capable, funny, and so very loved.

Featured image Credit to Nicole Lacoste.

My favorite upside of Covid

Don’t get me wrong, Covid has been miserable in sooo many ways; masks, seeing the dark side of people, limited activities and school functions. I missed my two littles getting their Christmas program this year. My outer two are going to get confirmed and first communion this year and it will be weird. Limited family members and subdued celebrations. Vacations stopped or dramatically changed. Sports being stopped and resuming in weird ways. I don’t wish to re-enter the nightmare that is Covid.

But – as many have pointed out, there have been some upsides to Covid shutting us down for a year. More family time, more intentional family dinners, or time to binge some great shows on Netflix. Neighbors out playing together as a larger bubble.

My favorite upside is the streaming. Because spectators are drastically limited, coaches, teachers, and parents have turned to streaming kids sports. For people like us, where grandparents live far away and can’t make it to activities regularly, streaming has been a great adaption. My dad would watch his granddaughters play softball on cold winter nights. My mom would send me texts after Jiggs’ swim meet. Mike’s mom would was able to watch Bug pitch which she hasn’t gotten to see much of before.

When Peanut went to tour a high school, her guide told us how her Italian teacher just recorded the lesson he already was streaming so that she could watch it later. The technical adaptations that came along for this Covid ride have been nothing short of amazing. I can’t imagine this 15 years ago before wifi was rare and no one had this technology in their pockets, classrooms.

As my three daughters will play on 4 softball teams this spring/summer, you can imagine that us parents will miss some games this year. Since Dad is coaching Bug this year, he will miss many of Jiggs games as they play the same night. Hopefully we can talk someone into streaming these games so we can watch them later.

I am excited to re-open and be able to play games without masks, have all kids in schools again, and so on. But I do hope that some of the positives like recording classes so kids can stay home when they are sick, but not miss the entire lesson or play sports and let parents “be in two places at once” continue.

You wear my name on your back

In 2021, we don’t talk a lot about the whole “shame” on a family if someone in the family messes up. We are each individuals in this space allowed to be who we are, and if we mess up, well, it’s on us. I think there’s a lot of value in allowing everyone to be an individual and to not paint a wide swath of dishonor on the whole family when one member makes a critical error of judgement or some other horrible choices. However, there is something to be said for tying us into the communities around us; be it the family, the school, the sports team, the nation, etc.

We are raising three daughters in this house with some wildly different personalities. If you’ve dealt with any two of them, you know that to be true. Add the third, and it’s just a lot of differences. I send them to a private school, and it’s often obvious that they belong to that community based on the dress code. They represent that school when they wear those clothes. People in the grocery store (preCovid) would know that a kid from that school let the door slam in their face or if they held the door open. They know if a kid from that school is being obnoxious or well behaved in public.

My kids all play sports/do group activities. They wear uniforms with the team’s name on their chest. Sometimes that name is their city. They represent themselves, the team/organization, Girl Scouts, etc. When they are out and about, they are more than just themselves when they are on the field, wearing the jersey, selling the cookies, etc

I tell them “You wear MY name on your back”. When you act ugly in public, you disgrace your name, my name, your sisters’ names (and let’s face it, your Dad’s because he gave all of us our names). You disgrace your team or organization.

You may be be an individual, but you are NOT a lone wolf. You belong to groups of people who believe in you, in your own innate worth, in your ability to do and achieve. As such, you will act like it. You will look people in the eye, you will speak respectfully to and of one another. You will remember that you wear our names on your backs. And, when are somewhere that is important to one of them, I remind the others they are wearing HER name on her back.

The same is true, though, of when they act well. When they play their heart out, and still thank the other team (win or lose) and the umpire for being there. When they sell the cookies, and look people in the eyes and say (and mean) thank you. When they hold the door open and when they do the right thing. When they don’t throw their helmet or bat, or come off the field after a tough inning and turn around to cheer on their team, they are representing their team. They are wearing my name on their back, and then I’m proud to wear their name on my back.

*Image courtesy of Nicole Lacoste Photography

Wren stretching from home plate for a ball

Raws Finish Strong

Not that long ago, I read an article about having a family motto. This particular article recommended that the kids should be part of it, but eh, that’s was enlightened parents do. Me, not so much. I’d been using “Raws Finish Strong” as words in our house regularly. They hear it in their sleep probably.

As trite as it may be and as hooky as my kids think it is, I think this matters. It sets the tone for what is and is not acceptable. I hope that when it’s needed, it’s something they whisper to themselves when they are up to bat or about to swim a race, or take that standardized test.

Whatever you start, you finish, and you finish all in. I do not care if you are the best on the field, on the court, in the pool, or in the classroom. You will finish strong because that is what we do. And, on average I’d say my kids are mostly strong finishers. We don’t talk about being winners because that’s not always within our control. Maybe we win the game, the championship or first place in the meet. Or maybe not. The other team may be better, the other players may have better bats, the math be hard. The effort is what we control, and that is the focus.

Do we celebrate great report cards, a great win, or a spelling bee win? Sure. But we make sure to focus on the effort that got us the “A”, the “win”! “Great job, all those hours at the kitchen table with the math book paid off”, “the win must feel so good after all the time you spent on the diamond with your team”. “Wow, that time in the pool is helping!” Tying the victory to the effort is important to establish that link.

We also acknowledge that even if we didn’t win, get straight As, etc, that the effort is the important key. Bring me home a C that you worked your butt off for? Cool. Great job. Bring me a C that you didn’t try? We’re gonna be chatting about the effort. A game without hits? But you swung at strikes, worked hard in the field, and cheered your team? Cool. Love watching you play. Didn’t swing at strikes, blamed the ump? We’re going to talk. If you can’t look at me and say you did your best and “finished strong”, you didn’t meet the criteria (that day) for our family. And look, I get it. Our best every day isn’t the equivalent to yesterday’s best. Some days all we have to give is just not what we had last time. But you will finish strong because you are a Raw and you wear my name on your back.

Why do I say you wear my name on your back? Stay tuned, I’ll have another blog topic on that.

 

 

 

 

Bug is Double Digits

Days ago now, Bug turned 10. This month has been a disaster so I’m behind. *Sigh* We will all remember 2020 for all the wrong reasons.

But Bug, you turning 10, has been a bright spot recently. This post is usually a highlight of what you did in the last 12 months, but as we went into Covid nightmare March 16, you had a good three months of normal before it went crazy. In that time, you finished third and started fourth grade. You have excelled in math repeatedly and in reading. Last year you were the first done with the 12 Maud books, and I think you would have been this year had we not gone into a 24 day quarantine right then.

You played softball and tried basketball and volleyball. Turns out Mom was right and you like those sports, too. You didn’t make the team you wanted for softball, but you stepped up and worked hard, and were a leader on your team. Even when you were down on yourself for your pitching, you came off the field and were the team’s #1 cheerleader. While we’re working the down on yourself part, I’m immensely proud of you for shaking it off to cheer on your team.

While we were in quarantine, you also decided to make a Christmas card/decoration thing for each and every single one of your classmates. Even while we were wallowing in our pity because of the lock-down, you found a way to try to brighten other people’s days. That has always been a piece of who you are.

Your teacher tells us all the time that you are a kind kid with a good heart who is there for her classmates.

I love you, my little heart. You are a great person, and I look forward to the next year to see you grow and learn.

Wren getting an award for most improved

Jiggs is 8

Somehow even in a pandemic time is flying and Jiggs is now 8.

Jiggs, it has been a whirlwind year for you. When I wrote this blog for you last year, you were just starting on the swim team. At the end of the season you had done a few meets and even won “most improved swimmer” for your team. You worked hard for Josh, and genuinely loved to swim. After the pandemic, when we could get you back in the pool, you said “ah mommy my heart needs to swim”. And, now you’re back in the pool and loving it. I love “watching” you do what you love. (Even if watching just entails drop off and pick up for practice right now, and can’t see you in the pool!) I love your smiles from it. I love even more that you are forging your way here as a Raw and doing this on your own!

But of course, even when you do things on your own, you return to softball. I am stunned at your improvement this year. From getting no hits in last year’s states, to getting THREE doubles this year, I’m just in awe of your work. I’m also impressed at your catching and fielding. You’ve worked hard, so enjoy the fruits of your labor to go be on the 10U dome ball this season.

School has also been fun to watch. Your reading went through the roof this last year, and I’m excited to see where this takes us. You’ve been learning and working so hard, the sky shall be the limit for you.

Lastly, watching you continue to come into your own in our family. You are so very quick-witted and fast with your comebacks on your sisters. You keep all of us on our toes, and make us laugh almost nightly at dinner. Watching your sister play softball recently, I hear this little voice “Come on three-five, you got this”. You attend a lot of games, and you still regularly find some time and voice to cheer them on. And Yes baby girl, they will attend what they can of yours too. Your sister caught some great shots of you, and we’ll see what we can do for basketball and swimming.

I’m so proud of you Jiggs. You have really had to learn to work hard this year, and fight for some gains. But then you did make those gains. You are a great member of this family, and we are so excited to watch where 8 takes us.

Why we do sports

Today, my third daughter had her first softball practice with her fall team. Yesterday, the other two did (don’t get me started on the third one is always last). But for now, it’s about sports and why my family seems to invest tons of money in it. My daughters will not play softball at college or national level… I don’t expect it. But here’s a taste of what went down at supper after everyone played today.

1. Bug had volleyball practice. One of her softball teammates is also in volleyball and today while entering volleyball, Bug the new softball teammate, called out to her, and asked to her walk together. Yesterday, Bug and her friends included a child of a younger age they knew to join them in the drills.

2. Jiggs – ahh Jiggs. Beamed, start to finish at getting to play. Had so much fun, came out laughing, and had so much fun. She loves getting to play. She engaged with her teammates and just generally had a blast. “Mom, I did good. I tried hard”. “I hustled, Mom”.  Tomorrow, she starts her sport; swimming. She cannot wait for that because “its in my blood, Mom”. Sports reset her heart. There’s no other term for it.

3. Peanut. God bless this quiet kid who just wants to play softball. Yesterday’s practice was fun. But today, she glowed. Not just sweat, but genuine glee. “Mom. This kid who’s better than me, talked to me and we had fun.” “Mom, I hit and won the game of lightning”. “Mom, left field was so hot, but xyz was fun”. “Mom, so and so is super nice and I had fun.” “Mom, I noticed so and so was down today, but I just couldn’t get her alone to see if she needed anything. I’ll try again later”. Sports give her a chance to talk with kids who intimidate her in other ways. Teammates are cared for and watched in case they just need a little more. Sports give her a chance to speak without an agenda or even opening her mouth sometimes.

Look ya’ll. Sports aren’t paying for college for these kids. (Well, Jiggs thinks she’ll get a swimming scholarship but we’re a decade away so for now, not likely!)

But, my introvert, my extroverts, my defiant kid, my people pleaser, my black and white rules kid, my fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants kid, my easygoing, my hard-on-herself kid ALL benefit from sports. The skills they learn playing sports, being part of a team, etc, all provide value into being good humans.

These kids and 98% of teammates are the best of what we need as a society. They play together as a team even though every year is a new group of teammates. They cheer each other on because they learn that they will win and lose as a team. They engage one another as equals because they are all in it together.

My kids play sports because it provides a chance to learn and grow and get along.

I spend my time, money, and energy on their sports because it improves them as humans.

Quickly written blog. Spelling and grammar errors, but the intent is what matters.

She’s a teenager

Oh my gosh, but here comes parenting the teens. Fortunately she’s a good human.

Happy birthday Peanut. I have no doubt this birthday will be one to remember. Turning 13, but in quarantine. You are in lots of good company as it’s been a long 3 months. But, watching you continue to be the best you, give me hope for the next year.

I don’t want to dwell on the quarantine, but it has colored our last 3 months pretty strong. You lost the chance to play not only school ball, but your last 12U spring ball. It sucks, and it’s hard and I’m sorry for that. But, you’ve been working on your individual skills and you’ve been a trooper about it. You were also super helpful when Dad was working at the school, and I was working at home. Helping your sisters with homework, getting them lunch when they weren’t even grateful (welcome to the club)! Taking them and the neighbors to the part when that became open again. Your maturity is amazing.

You were a good sister, cheering your sisters on when they took on new things. Sitting at a humid swimming pool for 90 minutes waiting for your sister’s one minute swim is a commitment to supporting her. You watched a lot of softball (two sisters!) and went along for the rides when we hustled between multiple tournaments. I heard you cheering just as loud for them as you did for your own teammates.

You also finished 7th grade and got things done. Your grades were impressive, and I’m very proud of you. We just won’t discuss the basket weaving at home project 🙂 Your speech teacher took time to send you a note and comment on your strengths as well. I love getting those emails. Knowing that others see the kind of person you are is gratifying as you tend to keep pretty internalized.

I was impressed at how well you’ve been trying new things; dome ball wit

 

part of your growing up. I can’t think of how many hours you put in at the softball tournaments manning the concessions, and picking up so many other family’s commitments. You’re strength of getting it done quietly and without fanfare will serve you well. We are proud of you, and we love you.

Bug is 9

The end of the year always creeps up on me, even when I try to plan ahead. Without further ado, Bug is 9!

This year has been full of ups and downs for you, Bug. You started pitching this spring, and I can still remember the joy of your first strike out (and your buddy T being the catcher for that third strike!!!). I will not forget the tears from our first broken bone. Turns out, you are so tough, that you pitched another inning and a half and gave the best performance to date. Watching you struggle to be okay sitting on the bench, learning to cheer through the heartache was harder than I can describe. It broke your dad and I, too But, you showed team spirit, fortitude, and strength. Build on those, Bug.

We also celebrated two more sacraments. Reconciliation and First Communion were big deals. It has always been a joy to watch your heart and soul grow. You are a kind soul who feels big things. I had someone tell me that at the Nutcracker dress rehearsal you reached out to the kiddo who was feeling overwhelmed, and need a friend. It’s not uncommon for your dad and I to hear about your friendship skills. You make us proud that you lead with an open heart. Never stop that open heart.

And, of course, we dance. Watching you perform on stage is a delight. (Maybe not so much doing the hair and hearing about how hard I pull to make the bun!) Watching you grow in confidence and skill is so much fun to see. I may have no idea how this dance things works, but you’re figuring it out. Thank you for taking us along your ride. You begged for a solo, so we’re giving it a whirl this year. I can’t wait to see what you can do!

Dad and I are always proud of you, and how you do hard things. Your heart is legendary. The growth this year in maturity has been incredible. Your teachers and coaches tell us of the kind of teammate you are. I hope you never forget to enjoy the games and the dance. Keep your open heart and enjoy the beauty you see in everyone!

 

Jiggs is 7

Oh man. Every year that I wrote this post, I am reminded that time does not stop and the years are fast.

This year, my Jiggs, you have led us on a merry roller coaster ride. During kindergarten, you danced, played soccer, basketball, volleyball, floor hockey, softball, and you wrestled and had swimming lessons.

You are strong. Although you enjoyed wrestling, you decided it was not your thing, and we’re done. But, I’m so proud that you went out and did your best trying to learn this sport that we had no exposure to prior to your attempts.

You are quick. Along with being amazing as a kindergartner, you have kept us on our toes with your quick sense of humor, your growing snark, and your physical athleticism, and card playing skills. It has been a joy to me that you are old enough to play the card games that our extended family enjoys. Watching you learn to win at Uno or figure out Phase 10 and Skipbo makes a momma’s heart happy. Your competitive nature comes out so much during cards, too. No one is going to steam roll you.

You are fierce.  Whether you are fighting with a sister, or for a sister, there’s a fierce side to you that will take you far. I have seen you defend a sister outside our walls, and for that, I’ll be ever grateful.

You are tough. This year, the softball association gave the option of U8 fall softball. When we gave you the option to play, your first question was “Do my sisters have to watch me play?” Upon affirmation, you decided that you would play. Although you were the youngest player on the team, you were determined. I saw you field some tough shots in the field with  your quick glove. I watched you get hit twice with the bat in one game, and still finish the inning behind the plate.

You are unique. Jiggs, it is not easy to be the youngest, but you handle it with panache and strength. I love that you are finding your own way in this world, and finding your own sports, your own friends, and your own sense of who you are. May this stay forever true. May you be unabashedly you.

 

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