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.


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.





Peanut is 12

Today is what’s called a “Golden Birthday”.

Peanut, this last year started with a big change for you; a move to middle school. You did well, though, through the learning spots. You were on time all year with assignments, you pulled good grades, and stayed reasonably organized. I’m impressed at your transition, as we knew you were apprehensive,

From your teachers and other staff at school, we heard consistently you are a good kid, with a good head on your shoulders.  You work hard, did your best, and generally were fun to be around. As a parent, it is those compliments that mean more to us than anything.

Your 6th grade class headed off to Camp Widjiwakkawinkawo. (I know, I know, Camp Widji). You were so excited for these 4 days away to see and do things the rest of us didn’t. When you came home (and the tiredness wore off), it was so fun to see your face light up as you talked about what happened and what fun you had, and what you learned. I’m so grateful you were the kind of kid who was excited to try this challenge and not scared. You have been independent, and that makes us proud.

I love how you have been trying out new hairstyles, particularly the shorter ones. It’s been so much fun to see you step out of the ponytails-for-everyone, and try the different ones. So many people have commented positively on your strength to be unique and how awesome your hair cuts are. I wish you to take that strength forward in everything you do.

You have been a great big sister; attending the Nutcracker and Dance Recital and complimenting your sisters.  You have attended a fair amount of Bug’s and Jiggs’ activities, and mostly watched/encouraged. You have celebrated their achievements and have been supportive of their goals. I know you are stoked, as well, that your cousin is going to college here in MN.

Your sense of sarcasm, being finely honed by your cousins, is coming out and getting to be such fun.

Peanut, I think you are such fun to be around (well, mostly, you are a tween!). I love how responsible you have become, and the kind of role model you are to your sisters. Your sense of family, and wanting to spend time with your extended family has also been appreciated. I have loved to watch you push your own boundaries, gain in strength and independence. I am proud of you, and I am excited to see what next year’s adventures include.



Bug had her two competitions for dance recently.

Prior to Bug taking our family on this competition dance adventure, I had a lot of opinions, misconceptions, and well, bad ideas about what dance meant. I thought it was frou frou and all about looking pretty with makeup and hair. I didn’t consider it a sport, and thought it was just silly .


Bug spends hours in the studios for about 9 months learning her routines, working with her teammates to get it right. It matters if they use their left or right foot to leap, and whether or not they are in sync enough to do it. She will spend time this summer working on her ballet technique (of which I understand that all dance is based). Her team will work to stretch and become more limber, they will be asked to tap their feet; fast, in rhythm, and without looking at them.

She will come home and try to practice at home. She will avoid dogs who skitter around trying to figure it out. She will practice her tap without tap shoes because mom isn’t okay with her fake hardwood getting tapped on. She will practice ballet and jazz and try to make the living room work with props and sisters walking and mom moving, etc. She will beg to stretch instead of going to bed. She will deal with parents who aren’t so amazing at dance family thing.

After 9 months of practice, this girl will then go on stage in front of three judges. Those three judges will do as their title suggests and judge them. The judges will talk through the entire performance and tell them what they did well or not well. Personally, the idea of someone watching my entire performance of anything and commenting on every step would be super frustrating and hard to take.

The next practice, this girl will then listen to the teachers tell them their opinion and listen to the three judges critiques. I am impressed at that skills she will learn from this: work as a team, work individually at home, take constructive (or not) feedback and keep going, learn to work through pain (ask me about her tap costume at the first comp). This kid will be responsible to know 3-5 routines at a time.

Through all of this, Bug begs me to do more dance. They did Daddy Daughter dance, and she wanted to do Hip Hop. We had to plan in a third day of dance so she could do recreation Hip Hop. Turns out she loved that style also. (She alternates between Hip Hop and ballet as her favorite). When her school had a 4 Saturday dance practice, we added that on.

I am grateful for her teachers who pushed her to do better, and didn’t accommodate “tired” or other excuses. I am grateful for her teachers who taught her to have fun while learning, and enjoy what she’s doing. I am grateful to the studio who gives the kids an opportunity to learn how dance can be incorporated into a program like the Nutcracker. Instead of 2 minutes on stage, there’s this whole cohesive program telling a story. I have no doubt for the older kids it is exhausting, but for the littler kids who may only otherwise dance on stage one time, it’s pretty awesome.

Watching my Bug on stage, it’s where her heart seems to soar and shine. I’m grateful for the lessons she’s learned, and the people we’ve met along the way.

And I was wrong. So wrong. Thanks for teaching us, Bug!

Peanut is 11!

I present Peanut at 11.

Its been a big year here. Starting and ending 5th grade, and becoming a middle schooler. Making the B team in softball. Working out hard. Volunteering at the library. Visiting Pennsylvania without parents.

I have to say your tenacity has shown through time and again. Over the last year, there have been times when a lesser individual would have quit. And you didn’t. You stuck through, kept trying, and never gave up. Sure, we had some tears and frustrations, but then you got a taste of success, and off and running you are. Many times I have said “There’s no excuse for you not to be the hardest worker out there”. “Out there” can refer to sports, academics, and so much more. And by God, Peanut, you are a hard worker.

You have also been a great sister. You supported your little sisters by watching them at soccer at sports. Sitting through the Nutcracker at Christmas and 2 recitals in June. The first time you saw your sisters after they performed, you immediately told them they did a good job. Watching you sit through the Bug’s first competition was priceless. You, along with Dad and I, had no idea how this worked. But you sat through a bazillion dances and told her how well she did.

You’ve been stepping up your responsibility game. Helping shepherd your sisters to where they need to go when Dad is working at the school. We were able to leave you alone with your sisters in a stressful situation, and you did well. You’ve also been working with Tasha on getting her trained. Both of you are doing well, and it will get better as both of you age.

Let’s talk to your goals. Last year you wanted to:

  1. Move downstairs ♥
  2. Read a 500 page book ♥
  3. Get bat on ball ♥
  4. Have fun. ♥

Checked those off! Job well done!

This year:

  1. Put ball in outfield/hit a double (or higher)
  2. Do more service hours than required every quarter
  3. Reach out and make 1  new friend
  4. Push myself in something (I think you decided your goal was to get someone out who bunts)
  5. Read 50 books this summer (might be hard to track this, but we’ll see)
  6. Babysit

I love you Peanut. I’m proud of the kid you are; kind, hard working, and an overall great human!


Kiddok is 21

A short little blog post announcing the oldest is officially an adult. She can pretty much do everything she wants except run for president and Senate.

Happy Birthday, Kiddok. While we won’t get to see you until Christmas time, I sure hope you are having fun studying abroad. Although we were all sad when you left, we told the littles that you were living your dream, and when someone announces a dream, works for the dream, and is living it, we do all we can to support them. So, just know, although the tears were there, even Bits was saying “but she’s living her dream”. So we’re behind you and supporting you!

Can’t wait to see you and hear your stories. Have a fabulous year, Kiddok, and I can’t wait to see what fun and learning you have this year.

Side note: This will be the last yearly birthday post for her. I had to find a cut-off point, and 21 feels like a logical time.


Losing with Class

This weekend, Peanut’s U10C softball team played a Father’s Day tournament in town. We went 2-1 in pool play, coming up against a hard to hit pitcher. Kids got to go home, regroup, and head back to the fields Sunday morning (Happy Father’s Day, to all the dads!) We won the first game in bracket play.

Then came the semis. We typically get 3 innings in one game. Our pitchers, catchers are still learning so it’s not the fastest pace game, but they play hard for those three innings. The team we played was evenly matched, and we were just barely ahead by the end of the third, but we had enough time to play one more inning. We gave up all five runs to get behind so we had to fight back. We tied up the game and went into extra innings. Twice. By the end of the game, we lost by two (tying run on second).

Our kids left their hearts, souls, and maybe a few tears on the field. They had played the equivalent of two games and came out just short.

There are not much worse ways to lose. The question is, how do you lose with class? I think the coaches and players did (as did the parents). The coaches and players cleared the bench to allow the next teams to get on the field. I didn’t hear badmouthing of the other team or the umpire. Although we’d been kidding as parents that there’s no crying in baseball, our kiddos shed a few. The coach told them it was okay to cry, and to come back out and play hard Tuesday. Coach said he’d never been part of such a close and good game, and he was proud of our players.

As a parent, there’s not much worse than watching your kid hurt, and knowing that there’s nothing you can do about it. Our kiddos hurt yesterday afternoon, but they should hold their heads high. And while I much more would have rather them have to learn to win with class, these lessons are valuable. It’s one of the reasons we send them out to play sports. NOT to have their heart broken, but to learn that you can come back and play again. Losing doesn’t define you, and it doesn’t make  you a loser. How you respond is the the definition of your character.

Did  you play hard and fair? (check). Did you do your best today? (check). Did you leave it all on the field? (check) Did you have fun with  your teammates? (check). Did you treat the other team with respect and wish them good luck or good game? (check) Did you hustle on and off the field? (check) Did you call the game stupid or throw your bat or helmet? (nope) Did you say “never playing again” (nope). Did you take a bit to be sad, and say “I want to do better”? (check)

My daughter and her teammates are learning to work. They played their hearts out, kept their passion but didn’t lose their tempers. They held each other up and cheered each other on!

This team has already exceeded my expectations and I’m excited for their next tournament. I’ll be gone thanks to a trip to Scotland for work. So I’m hopeful someone will take pictures, and someone will provide updates. I’m hopeful my kid does her best and has fun. And that team continues to support each other!

Note: All pictures from the fabulous Nicole Lacoste at NicoleLacostephotography, used with permission. https://www.facebook.com/shakopeephotography/



Double Digits!!!

Peanut is 10 today… We’ve hit double digits, and we’re pretty excited about it. Well, she is. Hitting 10 is a big deal apparently.

Peanut, You’ve been very impressive at the gains and growth in the last year. You’ve started and ended 4th grade. You slayed the 4th grade academically, made some new great friends, and grown up a little more. Your sense of humor has been fun to watch grow, although I’ve got to get quicker because apparently sarcasm rubs off…

I’m proud of <the majority of> your interactions with your sisters. While we all have our moments with each other, there are moments that stand out. Walking off the fields, your sister will grab your hand, and you’ll accept her hand without questioning. While you may not always appreciate the “big sister” designation, you are learning to live with it. 90% of the time, you’re a great, if reluctant, role model. When you sat through your sisters’ recital dress rehearsal, you made sure to tell each one they did well. You’ll take the time to come to their games occasionally, and cheer them on, play with them, and then read to them. You are helping to honor them, and we’re really proud of that.



In the last year, you have learned more about the world around you, and have been learning more about the world in which we live. You followed the election and asked really good questions. We had real conversations about news and slants. We had conversations about racial divides in the U.S., and how other countries are working. I’m proud of the knowledge you tried to absorb, and your analysis of the big things we have going on in this country.

This year, you also tackled tough challenges for you. You got put on a high level softball team this fall, and you did your level best to keep up. You had to give a 5 minute speech in front of classmates, and you rocked it. You had your first large project, with lots of due dates and real work, and you did so very well. You tried a new Crossfit gym.

You have shown such great levels of responsibility and maturity. Your work ethic is starting to show, and it’s one I’m proud of for you. I never hear your coaches tell you to hustle. You have worked hard on your school work, and rocked your AR goals. After two hard years of saving, you bought yourself an iPad, and you’ve been saving again. When the opportunity arose to work on the local Shakopee park that was accessible for all, you worked really hard on it. You built the slide, and worked on more. You worked as hard as the adults, and the pride you took in that was awesome. At the time you signed up to help, you thought you were helping a park that would not benefit you personally. You thought you were just helping others that needed help, and I’m so proud of you for that. parkbuilding7

This year, your goals (as stated by you): a) get bat on ball, b) move downstairs, c) read a 500 page book in 7 days d) have fun. I’m not sure about the move downstairs, but I like the rest. Dad and I will help you with all of those as you want. It’s a good thing you like libraries, though, as I can’t afford your book habit!

Your dad and I love you, and are so very proud of the kiddo you are. We are so very grateful for you and the strengths you bring to this family. Keep learning and growing and loving and helping. Your heart is strong, and your mind is too. Believe in yourself as much as your dad and I believe in you. longwoodgardens2.JPG



Teacher Appreciation Week

September 2016 076I lose track, I can’t remember when exactly Teacher Appreciation Week actually is, but I always appreciate the teachers in my kiddos’ school. Teachers have a tough job, and while they may get validation from the kiddos with hugs or high fives, I don’t know if they get enough parent validation, so I’m here to provide that every once in a while.

Earlier, I sent an email to each teacher and copied their principal. The notes were focused on the kiddo/teacher interactions, and the kiddo’s progress on the year. It’s a new thing I started last year based on some suggestion from Facebook. It seems like so little I can do, because I can’t do the big things… I have zero pinterest abilities, limited funds, limited time to be at the school, etc…

My three kids are currently 4th grade, Kindergarten, and preschool. The school they belong to has been amazing for them. They are honored as individuals. The school’s mission is to nurture the body, mind, and soul of the children, and to develop leaders. The nurturing and developing .

When Bug randomly fell asleep in class one Friday, rather than waking her up to shove math class at her, they let her sleep and woke her after up after an hour to go play (and emailed me to watch in case she was getting sick).  When the amazing librarian realized that a book from Peanut’s favorite series had just been delivered, she made sure to tell Peanut, and let her check it out first. When Bits busted her mouth (at a park under parental care, and not at school), her teachers worked with us for appropriate snacks. I could continue examples, but I have to allow my girls some privacy.

Oh, they are expected to also integrate and work with other kids in their school. They are offered opportunities to play sports or sing choir (and next year is band; shudder)! They have group work during school hours. They are expected to be capable of presentations in front of their class, and speak in front of the school (classes put on mass).

The school also honors family time. We’ve rarely had homework that required weekend work. When we pulled the kids for a family vacation from school for 4 days, no one blinked. They wished us fun and enjoyment together, and worked with us for homework.

Academically, they are held to high expectations. If a kiddo is underperforming, I’ve been told. If they are excelling, I’ve been told. Peanut had integrated work when the class learned about the states. Social Studies, English, music, science, art, and probably math. They are using technology as I do at work (google sheets, anyone?). The kindergarten curriculum starts first grade math concepts in the third quarter. But homework isn’t the be all end all for my kindergartener.

I won’t speak to all the things that the teachers and support staff have done for my kiddos as my kids have a right to privacy. The teachers and other staff are amazing. I will be always grateful for the school and to know that my kiddos are loved, supported, and encouraged as individual humans.

Bug is 6!

Another milestone about to hit our house. The middle little is 6.

Bug, you are 6!
I gotta tell you — the 5s, they are hard work for all of us. There’s a lot of growing and learning and adapting and moving on for all of us. There’s so much I want to tell you. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a kid take to school like you. You adore school, socially, mentally, physically. It wears you out, but you love it. The friends you keep making, and the stuff you keep learning keeps us on our toes. I don’t know how many times we’ve heard “Our God is an awesome God”. Your reading skills have grown leaps and bounds. Math, yep, you got it. Picking you up from school is like getting a princess. You have to tell everyone good bye (and they need to return the favor, apparently), and you are giving out hugs for all too.

Tired though you may be from all that learning and playing at school, you still have energy to be a sister. Perhaps, occasionally a nudge of a sister, but a sister. You play with Peanut and Bits and you laugh and love (and argue and fight) with both as a sister a should. Your sweet nature comes out when you help the littler one learn a song (see Our God is an Awesome God) or helping her spell. It comes out when you cheer your just older one and tell her how good she is at something. You’ve a special bond with the oldest and it’s not uncommon to see you curled on her lap or waiting while she does your hair.

You’ve got this bike-riding thing down, and you’re loving to be outside. Trying new sports is fun for you, and it’s so fun to watch you. I especially love when you turn to make sure someone who has just taken a tumble is okay. You’ve tried rugby and volleyball as new sports and are begging for more rugby opportunities. You’ve already asked us to sign up for basketball this winter, and I’m sure we’ll be doing more softball. I love that you like to try new things and meet new people.

Last week, I got to read to your class for your special day, and while I was there, your teacher asked us questions. She asked me why you are special.  You are sunshine. You were born during the dark time of year, but you were happy and loved to be with us. As you’ve aged you’ve always been so generous with your heart and try to cheer up and on other people.

Pictures above courtesy of Megan Stans at meganstans.com