New Olympic Sport Suggestions

The news that wrestling will be cut from the summer 2020 Olympics has people reeling across the globe. I’m not one of those people, as I know nothing about wrestling (except that wrestlers wear outfits that look like they were vaguely modeled after old fashioned male bathing suits), but I imagine that for those who’ve made wrestling at the Olympics a life-long goal, this can be upsetting.

With this gaping hole left in the Olympic line-up, I’d like to add some options for the Olympic committee to consider when thinking about which new sport should be represented.

1. Cart Pushing. This would be more dramatic in the winter games, because if pushing a cart full of warehouse store goodies with four kids in tow is a workout, doing the same thing through six inches of salty slush surely requires near-Herculean strength and stamina. I envision this event will be as suspenseful as my old favorite TV show, Supermarket Sweep.

2. Seat Belt Buckling, Toddler Style. Have you ever had to buckle a 30 pound, screaming, bucking child into a convertible booster? It requires agility and poise, and being heavier than the child only gives a slight advantage to the buckler. Competition will be more authentic if held in a public place, like a Target parking lot, so passerby can cast judgmental glances at the athletes.

3. All Day Laundry Marathons. Anyone can run 26 miles with empty arms. Come on. But try going up and down the stairs with baskets full of smelly clothes, dodging Legos that might cripple you, 1,567 times in one day as you locate, sort, wash, fold, and put away clothes and linens for a house full of people.

4. Seal Liner Removal. You know those discs of thick paper that cover, say, a jar of peanut butter or a new bottle of ketchup? They have either microscopic tabs along the edges or a pull-up half-circle that lead a person to believe access to the food within will be simple. I’d like this sport to be added just so I can see if other people really can remove those seals without harming themselves or without the seals ending up in 203 small pieces. Because I can’t.

What would you like to see at the 2020 Summer Olympics?

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Who’s On First?

Recently Nina Badzin posed a question on her blog – should parents go to all of their kids’ sporting events? It was timely for me because I’d just survived a laughably hectic evening at my oldest son’s baseball game and left feeling saddened that I didn’t have time to watch more of the game.

Let me paint a picture for you. It was a weekday evening. High 70s, sunny, very few mosquitoes. The kids and I arrived not only on time, but a few minutes early, and snagged a parking spot closer than two miles away. I should have known this would spell disaster for the rest of the evening.

The game started calmly enough. We watched for Miles but all the boys are of similar height and wearing the exact same thing, so when they’re in the outfield, I have a hard time telling which kid is mine.

“Hi, Marcus!” a mom sitting next to me yelled to her son as we sat on the bleachers behind home plate. She turned to me with a smile. “Which one is yours?”

I squinted behind my bifocals into the sun. The players all looked identical, back-lit and turned into boy-shaped shadows. “Um, I’m not sure. I think mine is out behind second base but maybe he’s over behind first.”

While I tried to locate Miles and started to wonder if I was, in fact, at the right game at all, I kept my eyes on Isla, Grant and Jonah, who were playing with other baseball players’ siblings. Isla played with Jonah, and I felt comfortable with the fifteen feet between where I sat and they laughed. I turned my eyes back to the game and realized I had not only missed Miles’ turn in the outfield, but also his first time batting.

When I then glanced back to check on the other kids, Jonah was gone.

“Isla!” I said. “Where is Jonah?”

“Sorry, Mommy,” Isla said, worried. “I got distracting playing with Cheyenne. I was showing her how I do the splits.”

I dashed off from my seat and found Jonah under a set of bleachers near the parking lot. Scolded him. Brought him back to my seat and tried to bribe him with a juice box, which bought me about 45 seconds of him sitting down.

After Jonah threw his empty juice box at my feet, I had enough time to realize Miles was back in the outfield. At third… no, at first base. He waved at me. My boy!

Looked back at the kids. I could see Isla and Jonah, but where was Grant? Ran back over to the tall bleachers and found he had climbed up the other side with some random hooligans who were clearly a bad influence. Scolded Grant. Told him if he dashed off again I’d make him sit next to me for the rest of the game.

“Okay, okay,” he promised.

I hurried back to my seat and apologized to the mom sitting behind me for getting up so much. Noticed that Miles was still at first base, and silently congratulated myself for locating him so quickly.

Grant had now made friends with a little boy and was eating the boy’s candy. Boy didn’t appear to be upset by this, so I let it go. Isla and Grant played Mummy Tag with Cheyenne a safe distance away.

Eyes back on the game, I saw Miles’ team was up to bat. Wondered again what his number was. Then Isla came running up to me to say, “Jonah touched a peanut!” Jonah is allergic to peanuts. There are peanuts aplenty under baseball bleachers, apparently. I questioned Jonah and peered in his mouth and felt satisfied he hadn’t eaten any. “I don’t like peanuts,” he said. “Peanuts make me sick.” Good boy.

Back to the game. Miles still wasn’t at bat. A boy the size of a college freshman stood at home plate. Do they start steroids this early, I wondered.

Looked over my shoulder at the nearby spot where Grant had been hogging the boy’s candy to find Grant and his buddy were gone. I told Isla to watch Jonah and walked around the consignment stand and the bleachers. No Grant. I asked a few other parents if they’d seen my son with another boy, but no, they hadn’t. Asked a mom I know to watch my other children and took off for the other side of the baseball fields where I finally found Grant and his new pal by a batting cage. Yelled at Grant.

Brought a sobbing, dramatic Grant back to the bleachers and explained he’d have to sit with me for the rest of the game. “But WHY??” he wailed. Parents stared. Or glared. Or both.

“No tantrums,” I told him. “Other parents are trying to watch their boys play baseball.” Grant cried harder. His nose started to bleed. He accused me of not loving him. I had to explain that it was because I loved him so much I didn’t want to lose him at a baseball game.

Just when I thought I couldn’t handle one more minute of game-missing, the last inning ended. I’d missed Miles make it to first base. The players shook hands and I had just enough time to think, “Thank goodness we can go home,” when Jonah made a mad dash for the busy parking lot.

Isla, Grant and I chased after Jonah, who giggled like it was the best game on earth to run toward moving vehicles that could crush him in an instant. I scooped him up and walked another thirty feet to our car.

Isla and Grant climbed in and had just began to buckle themselves in when Grant piped up through his tears, “Where is Miles?”

I’d left him on the baseball field.

I instructed Isla and Grant to stay put in the car, and carried Jonah with me to the field where I saw Miles was just starting to worry he couldn’t find us. Relief filled his eyes as they caught me.

As we walked back to the car, my weary feet barely able to move, I heard a car alarm go off. How annoying, I thought.

It was my car. Grant tried to open the door from the inside, but I’d locked the car and it triggered the alarm.

“What are you doing??” I yelled.

“I’m going to the bathroom, then I’m running away,” Grant huffed. “No one cares about me, anyway.”

Spent five minutes assuring Grant again that I did love him, and that’s why I wouldn’t let him wander away from me, because it is my job to protect him. He wasn’t convinced.

So if you are asking yourself whether you should attend all of your child’s sporting events, the answer is – if your other kids are like mine, don’t feel guilty if you can’t make all of the events; you won’t be able to watch any of the game, anyway, even if you’re there.

The Harried Mother Lunch Special

I’ve neglected my blog this week. I neglected a lot of things this week. Multiple clients threw projects at me all at once so I’ve been cramming in work when I can, but Jonah was sick all last weekend and Zachary was out of town so I fell quite behind. Except for one night, I don’t think I went to bed before 1 or 2 am for more than a week, then had to wake at 6:30. My mind was so exhausted on Wednesday night that I found I could barely spell anything correctly, like using the word “huge” for “hug” or “fase” for “face.”

When life is hectic like this, there’s a triage process I have to go through, where I choose which parts of my life are essential or can be saved, or which I can do without or don’t stand a chance at being accomplished. One of the first things I cut is exercise, sadly. Even though I know it will make me feel better and reduce stress, I also fear it will make me more tired, which means I wouldn’t be able to pull a marathon work session from 9 pm until midnight. Sleep also gets cut because, as a mom who works from home and has four children, the evening hours are often the only ones I can snag if I want some uninterrupted time to be productive.

And then there’s eating. Or eating well, I should say. When I don’t plan ahead and I’m mind-numbingly busy, food slips. This morning I had cold cereal instead of my usual eggs or oatmeal. Nothing awful about cold cereal, it wasn’t neon-colored or filled with 158 grams of sugar, but not as filling. Wednesday I didn’t have time to eat dinner until 10:15 at night. I was in an unfamiliar town an hour from home and my options were gas stations or fast food. It was raining and Arby’s had a drive through, so I chose Arby’s.

With no time to really make dinners this week, I had no dinners to photograph, and no time to write down recipes, either. So, behold, my lunch special a few times this week.

Those are crusts of my children’s sandwiches, atop the newspaper it took me three days to read. I believe that’s some sort of low, though I’m inclined to call myself  “eco-friendly” since I’m saving the crusts from the trash, as my kids won’t eat them.

Isla had a birthday party to go to today and Zachary is at work, so I hired a mother’s helper to play with the boys this morning so I could strike a few more work items off my list. I should have a fairly low-key week in comparison, which will hopefully mean the return of sleep, exercise and real meals.

Of course, the last day of school is on Friday.

 

The End (of the School Year) is Near

School ends next week. How is this possible? I’m pretty sure it can’t have been longer than two months ago that my kids stepped foot onto the school bus for their first days of third grade, first grade and kindergarten, and Jonah teared up at being left alone with only me, Mom, five days a week. I demand a recount.

I’m both relieved and panicked over summer vacation. On one hand, it will be nice to not need to be dressed and out the door by 8 am each morning. Okay, so it’s usually just the kids who are dressed by then, as I don’t bother getting out of my pajamas until I have to leave the house many days, but still. We can sit over breakfast and discuss what we’d like to do for the day. Garden? Run through the sprinkler? Go to the park? Make chains out of dandelions?

On the other hand, all four kids will be home all day long. I had just grown accustomed to having three kids in school, and now the schedule changes again?

Summer stretches out before me and I know this – there will be little in the way of idyllic, educational moments in the garden or casual and stress-free walks to the park. My afternoons will be filled with asking the kids to please not trample the seedlings and shouting, “Do NOT push your brother down the rock wall!” at the playground. I should probably go out this week and buy some black and white striped shirts because I’m guessing 87% of my time will be spent playing referee between siblings and keeping them from attacking each other with light sabers and sippy cups (Jonah has deadly aim with his cups, as the older three kids can attest).

In addition to the role of mediator, I will be the family’s friendly taxi driver.. Between Grant and Miles, we’ll be at baseball games four nights a week. Isla will have gymnastics twice a week. The older three kids will have swimming lessons twice a week, if I can get the instructor to call me back. That’s looking a little iffy, though – she taught the kids the last two summers in a row and perhaps the lack of a return phone call means she’s grown weary of our rowdy boys (Isla is a model student, but I bet it would be awkward for the swim school owner to say, “Your daughter can come back, but you may want to send your boys to boot camp”).

I’m not a mom who dreads summer vacation, though, don’t get me wrong. I don’t wear black the first day they’re all home or call my friends crying because I can’t handle the constant strain of my kids being with me 24 hours a day for three months. Or at least I have the decency to wait to do that until at least the fourth week of vacation.

I am a realist, though, and I know that if our weekends during the school year aren’t 100% perfect, then this big extended break can’t be 100% trouble-free, either. But I’m ready for the adventure; perfection isn’t expected or necessary.  I am looking forward to a moderately simpler time with my brood. More family time, no homework, less TV, trips to the lake, trips to the zoo, homemade ice cream, barbecues, walks around the neighborhood that extend past bedtime and it’s okay. The kids will smell like sunscreen and sunshine and grass and dirt and sidewalk chalk and, yes, they will scream, but at least some of the screams will be because the water from the sprinkler is deliciously and startlingly icy, or because they are chasing a butterfly across the yard.

Is it summer yet?

This post was written to participate in Heather’s free writing exercise Just Write at The Extraordinary Ordinary.

First Time Baking with Yeast – Whole Wheat Pitas (Sort Of)

I’ve recently landed on a newly invigorated “let’s have everything be organic and natural” kick (more on that another day), and I thought to myself, “Hey, maybe I could make bread on my own.” I buy whole wheat bread for the kids, and I try to buy a brand with the shortest list of unpronounceable ingredients, but fresh bread is delicious and I’d have complete control over what went into it. This plan completely ignored the fact that I’m not good at baking, not at all.

After a little internet search, I decided my first project would be whole wheat pitas. The people on the interwebs declared it easy. Oh, people of the interwebs, I should not trust you. After all, you’re the ones who led me to believe cake pops were easy, too. Evil.

Anyway, I found a few recipes and based my decision on star rating, because that just makes sense, doesn’t it? Landed on this whole wheat pita recipe at food.com. I had all the ingredients already (except yeast) and they sounded good.

My first problem was buying the yeast. The recipe just says “yeast.” Then you get to the grocery store and there are different kinds. Rapid rise and active and packets and, geez, how am I supposed to know which is the right kind? Women aren’t born with this knowledge! Omitted the ones that looked like they were for bread machines, because even I’m bright enough to realize I wouldn’t be using one of those, and selected a jar of active yeast. This was optimistic – I thought, maybe I’ll be so good at making bread I will use the whole thing. Ha.

Worked up my courage over the next few days. Even posted on Twitter that I’d be trying and a very encouraging woman told me I’d do well! Thought for about two seconds about using the KitchenAid mixer but told myself one complicated process at a time was enough for me. If I’d tried to use the mixer for the first time I certainly would have hurt myself somehow.

The recipe said to combine the water, honey and yeast and that it would get foamy. I mixed everything together and set the timer. After my five minutes were up I looked in the bowl and it was foamy-ish. But how foamy is foamy? Were there supposed to be peaks like in a bubble bath? Or did the little layer of froth apply?

I read the recipe again. Oops. I used too much water. The recipe said to use 1 1/4 cups of water. So that’s what I used. Only I realized later I was only supposed to use 1/2 a cup for the water-honey-yeast-get-foamy portion. Tossed out my mixture and started over.

With the proper measurements, my concoction foamed. I added the correct amount of flour and let it get bubbly, which is did. Success!

Then I added the remaining flour as instructed and was met with a gloppy mess. Totally sticky. I added extra flour by spoonfuls at a time hoping it would stop sticking, but no, still sticky. I became a little worried I was adding too much flour so I stopped and threw the whole sticky mess into my oiled bowl and crossed my fingers. Let the dough rise, and hooray, it rose.

Time to cut and roll out the dough. Punching it down (I’m slightly embarrassed to admit I had to watch a YouTube video to figure out what this meant) resulted in dough sticking to my knuckles. This didn’t seem right.

Floured my counter top and rolled a section into a ball. The flour on the counter seemed to help the stickiness, but when I tried to roll out the dough it would not roll out. It would get flatter but then spring back. The more I tried to roll it out the more it would stick to the rolling pin and arrghhh I was never ever going to make bread again. At this point I’d been at the project so long it would have been less time-consuming and less frustrating if I’d driven to a town one state away to buy my stupid pitas. Why does anyone bake at home when the grocery store is full of bread I can select in 3.8 seconds?

Disheartened, I slapped my “pitas” onto baking sheets, covered them and let them sit another 30 minutes. Preheated my oven and tossed them onto my baking stone. Set the timer and the bread came out, well, looking like bread. Not really like pita bread, because they were very thick, but bread-like nonetheless.

Called the kids downstairs. Held my breath as I cut into one. No pocket, which means my pita loosely resembled an appetizer-plate sized dinner roll, but it was edible food. Gave each kid a half and they devoured them. Miles said to me, “These are super awesome, Mom. Way better than the ones at the store.”

And so, my ugly pitas satisfied at least the little people in the house.

I will try again.

(If you have any easy bread recipes, I’m all ears – send me a link!)

The Red Dress – Fifty Dollars

As happens with everyone some days, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed that day. Overtired, perhaps, or just a black cloud that formed out of nothing and would be gone soon.

I sat down at my computer that morning working and I was wishing I could play with the kids instead of answer client e-mails,  but I logged onto Facebook first before starting just for five minutes of down time. I scrolled through status updates and liked a few photos.

And then – there it was. A little gift.

In my local online garage sale group, a woman had posted a dress for sale.

“50.00 dollars,” the description began. “Whore it once.”

Now, I am happy to report, I am feeling much better.

 

This post was written to participate in Just Write, an exercise in free writing. No editing, scary! Check out the link for more words that capture little bits of other lives.

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