The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Leaving It All On The Field

Today was the last game of the soccer season. It went something like this.

I check for last minute team emails, write out the team roster, assigning each player a number. Two girls have asked for another chance in goal before the season ends, Since all that have wanted to play goalie had played (or those that I have talked into at least trying it), I put the two goalies in first. Important to note here that one of the girls requesting to be in net is my daughter.

I do the rotations with the players that will be at the game. We will be without the services of two players due to schedule conflicts, (school.. pfft, whatever. kidding!). After the rotations are penciled in, I go though it again to be sure that everyone plays about the same amount of time and rotates around the field. This is recreational youth soccer, not the Majors, so the only strategy in doing the rotations is that everyone gets to play. Done.

I review the schedule to confirm our opposing team for our last game. Gulp. The team we are to be playing tonight is the first team we faced this season. They shelled us. Like really bad. They are a good team and quite frankly I find it puzzling they are even in our league, because the other teams we have played were pretty good matches, but I digress. The team we are playing is, on average, my size. Our team, on average, is the size of your everyday knobby kneed 11/12 year old girl. Our opponents have and will drill the ball through the net. And my little baby girl is insisting on playing goalie. I feel nauseous.

Moment of truth.. Do I talk my daughter out of playing goal to protect her from failure? Do I even say anything? I decide that she will have to wait for a pep talk until game time just like everybody else and will play goal. I channel Hope Solo and every other soccer standout I can think of to protect my daughter and help her play well. Wouldn’t the family therapist be proud?

We arrive at the field about the same time as my co-coach and his daughter. Our team starts to file in. So does the opponent. As we are warming up with the usual drills, our girls notice that this the team that crushed their soccer dreams at the beginning of the season. They start to say things like, “that blonde girl scares me” and “they are really good” and “why do we have to play them again?”. I shrug it off, telling them this is just another game and they are just another team. But I am lying. We are the 1980 US Hockey team and they are the (team formerly known as) the Soviets, if you will.

I reflect briefly on pieces of advice I received and coaching books I read this spring. Time to huddle up and get the game started. I take a knee in the middle of the huddle. “Girls, this is going to be a fast game. You are going to have to hustle. You are going to have to be aggressive and you are going to be scared of no one. I am proud of all of you.” Not exactly Herb Brooks, but I do alright. We do our cheer – KAPOW! And we are off. My stomach has not been this nervous since… I honestly can’t remember. I have butterflies in my stomach and feel like I could shit my pants any second. I want these girls to play well and feel good about their efforts. Also, I want my daughter to do well in goal (and stay injury-free).

Whistle blows, game starts. What can I say? Our team delivers. They run fast, staying with the opponents twice their size (what DO they feed these girls anyway?). They are aggressive. A couple of the players are having the game of their lives. It is exciting to watch. I am, as always, constantly yelling. We go through our rotations and I make a point to congratulate each player on her monstrous play. My daughter has a few remarkable saves in goal.

Halftime comes and I rally the troops again. Stay with them, I say. You are playing aggressively and hustling and getting to the ball. Keep up the good passing. Keep up the pressure. We line up for the second half. New goalie in net for us is a little nervous, so the other coach goes over by her. She has a few saves that are out-of-her-mind stunning. I am hoping the dad that always takes the pictures is getting all this. Our parents are doing a great job encouraging everyone on the team. My nervousness is gone and I am truly in the moment, enjoying everything. And still yelling.

As the game ends, I tell the girls how I am immensely proud of them. They left everything on the field tonight. They cheered for each other and were in it every minute. It is obvious they are pleased with themselves, as they should be.

So.. You may think that this where I tell you that we overcame this team twice our size. The opponent with passing precision like a laser and leg strength to rival my husband. I could, but the final score was 6-1, not in our favor. And it does not matter.

It does not matter because our team left it all out there. They played their best game, they never got down on themselves and when we scored the lone goal, they had a look of pure, unadulterated, cartwheel-through-a-flowery-meadow joy. This is what I want for them. I want them to continue to compete. To not be intimidated. To give it their all in whatever they do.

For the last couple of months I have been a rookie coach to a group of girls that restore my faith in our youth. I am grateful their parents shared them with me, if only for two evenings per week. And I think the best part of the experience is they all asked if I will coach them again next spring, including my daughter.

Toy Story, low budget version

Once there were Leapster games. These Leapster games were loved by three children. One day, one of the Leapsters went missing. Try as they could the family could not locate the lost game. Luckily, grandparents stepped in and bought a new Leapster for the child who had lost his. All was well.

Time passed, the children grew. Furniture needed to be replaced. When the couch was taken apart the missing Leapster game was found crammed in between two cushions. There was much rejoicing.

But what to do? There were three children, (and only two that really played with their Leapsters) and four Leapster games. It was decided (by consensus) that the Leapster would be given to a friend that would love it and play with it just as the original children had. They would include some of their games as well. The file names on the Leapster games had stayed on.. (Josie, Chris, Nick) The new boy, Mitch, did not pay much attention. He was busy playing with the new toy.

A year or two passed. The family moved to a new place and had sold or given away all the Leapsters and the games.

Meanwhile, Mitch studied at church. Every Sunday, when a child did good work, they were rewarded with a toy from the bin. The toys in the prize bin were mostly hand-me-down or low budget items. Mitch, however, saw a game in the bin that he had been eyeing in the store for awhile. What luck! He reached in, picked up the game and ran to his mom. He was so excited to get home and play the game on his Leapster.

When Mitch and his family returned home from church, he ran to his room to find his Leapster and put in the game. His mom wanted to take a look at it as well and watched as the game loaded up. Much to his mom’s surprise, the game loaded on the screen with three names, Josie, Chris and Nick. She squealed and laughed at the chances that this game had once belonged to the family that had originally given the Leapster to Mitch. Mitch asked her what was so funny about the whole thing, and she explained how this was an amusing, if not extraordinary, coincidence. Mitch replied, “But that’s how I thought ALL the games came!”

The Leapster and the game were reunited. They were happy to have a boy like Mitch to play with and take care of them. There was much rejoicing.

Happy Fathers Day

He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. 

~Clarence Budington Kelland

My dad is full of advice but mostly just lives his life honorably and allows us to watch.  He is a lover of sports, tennis especially.  He once met the father of a certain Williams sisters while watch the French Open and commended him on the match Serena had just finished.  “Serena played a hell of a match today” he said, “You must be very proud of your daughters.”  Mr. Williams confirmed that he is, in fact, proud of his daughters and thanked him for the kind words.

My dad is not much of a yeller.  I always knew I was in trouble (which was a lot)  when he would cross his arms, shake his head and mumble, “this shit has to cease, Erika.”

Other “fun” things Dad has said over the years..

“der schtops and der schtops.”

“You own nothing in this house. It is my house and I will look through any pockets and any drawers and any closets whenever I see fit. This is not a democracy.”

On my wedding day we were preparing to enter the church.  I looked inside and saw the church was full.  I got nervous that I would trip or something and said to him, “wow, there are a lot of people here.”  His encouraging words back to me were accompanied by a pat on the arm, “you invited a lot of people, honey, let’s go.”

We had many arguments over the years about this and that, I was a teenager once upon a time, after all.  The constant was always that he was there.  Dad was there when I played tennis matches and skied and had piano recitals..  always quiet.  Not creepy quiet, but encouraging quiet.  He would nod in approval or gesture a hint on how to do something better.

As I said above, he is not much of a yeller, but he was (and continues to be) a huge cheerleader for me.  It is true that a father makes a huge difference in the lives of their daughters.  Mine did so quietly, affirming my good decisions and catching me when I made bad ones.  He does not tell me how to live, he merely provides a good example by living well.

Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there.  Especially mine.

Roland Garros, Mom and Me

Due to the French Open championships this weekend, it seems timely to come to terms with something that has been on my mind for a while.  It happened years ago, February 2004, in fact, when I left JB with two children to go to Paris with my mom, her sister and friend.

We play tennis is my family.  While other girls may have had posters of Scott Baio or John Stamos in their rooms, (its was the 8os, no doubt), I had pictures of Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Gabriela Sabatini.  As a result, it only seemed natural to visit Roland Garros while in Paris.

Let’s back up..  as I noted in a previous post, (click <HERE> ), one of the most dangerous things my mother can say is, “I’ve been thinking…” because it usually means that we are getting on plane and going somewhere.  Okay, so maybe not dangerous, really, as I have benefited a few times from her, um, thoughts.. but you get the idea.  So she calls me in the winter of 2003-04 and says she found a super great deal to go to Paris for five days and wants to know if I will go with her.  Her sister and friend may be in as well.  I ask JB if he minds flying solo for a few days while I skip about Paris, eating crepes and drinking wine.  He agrees.  WOOT!

I had never been to France and did not (do not) speak French, so I bought some CDs to learn some basics of conversational French.  I listened and learned while commuting to work and felt like I could reasonably get along in Paris.  At least, I knew how to ask for directions, greet people and read a map.  A little nugget for all those traveling to France – learn some French.  Be polite.  It goes along way.

So anyway, about a week before we set off on out little adventure, Mid became sick.  Actually, alot sick with RSV.  Any parent knows of which I speak.  It’s a respiratory virus that you can’t treat with antibiotics.  Mid, then all of 7ish months old, sat and wheezed.  He had a fever.  I was nervous about leaving the country.  I took him to our (totally awesome) pediatrician.  He made the diagnosis and gave me the treatment plan.  I asked, feeling all sorts of mom-guilt, “I have a trip planned to Paris in a few days.  Should I still go?  Will he be OKay?”  SO MUCH GUILT.  Assured by the physician that Mid would be over this wheezing, feverish yuckiness within a week, I pressed on with the planning.

The day arrived for us to leave Chicago and head to Paris.  I felt guilty.  I had never left my children for this long and although I know that JB is perfectly capable of caring for our children on his own, I was afraid I would simply miss them too much.  My mom continually offered me an out.  I did not have to go, she understood, she is a mother, too.. all that.  We boarded the plane in Chicago.  I looked out the window.  The plane backed away from the jetway.  I started to cry.  “It’s too late,” Mom said, “we are on our way.  JB is going to be fine.  You planned for every minute of every day.  He is a good father.”  I nodded.

So, to Paris.  We had a blast.  We did almost the whole city in five days.  Notre Dame, River boat on the Seine, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Basilique du Sacre’-Coeur (highly recommend, feels like you are getting hugged by Jesus Himself), Moulin Rouge, Bastille, a bunch of other museums, a little art fair along the streets of Ernest Hemingway in Montparnasse..

And then Roland Garros, the site for the French Open tennis tournament.

“Do you think we can just walk on to the grounds?”

“Of course,” replied Mom.  The gate was open so we wandered in.  The site was much smaller than I had imagined.  I had goosebumps. I was standing on the very ground where tennis greats have walked, played, won championships.. it was almost too much.  We walked up to the entrance for Centre Court.  It was just.. open.  There was no gate, no lock, it was just open.  The court was not set up and you could tell they were doing some construction.  Nevertheless, we walked toward the entrance.

A delightful British woman came out of nowhere and greeted us.  Or, more likely that she came out of the offices located on the right, but I didn’t see the offices until later.  We were totally busted.  I mumbled to Mom that no way we were going to be able to walk on to Centre Court.  She mumbled back, “nobody is scared of a grey haired woman, just let me talk with her.”  This made me a little nervous, as I am pretty sure that she offered me up to a French Police Officer in order to get to the top of the Arc de Triomphe as it was closing just the day before, but I went with it.

A couple of minutes later we were standing the middle of Centre Court at Roland Garros.  Are you kidding me?  The net was not up and there was construction equipment stuff in the stands, but I did not care.  I stood with my eyes closed.  I imagined a crowd and Chris, Martina, Gabby and I playing doubles.  So cool.  The British woman returned and let us know that we would need to get back to the public areas.  As we left, I lifted my arms to the roaring crowd empty stands and smiled.

We returned to the United States tired and pleased with our trip.  I had a couple of bottles of wine with me a little Eiffel Tower I bought at the street art fair.  All was well on the home front as well.  Mid was over RSV without implications and Girl had barely noticed I was gone.  JB took a much-deserved nap.  I went through pictures with my daughter and showed her the stuff I had bought for her.  Someday I hope to take the kids to Paris and show them the Champs-Elysees and all that is the grandeur of Paris.  Especially Roland Garros.

So there.  My last post was about how I have lied to my kids to get them to eat healthier.  Today I tell you about the time I left the country when my baby boy was sick (and he will someday remind me, to be sure).  I am glad that is out in the open.

Guilt?  What guilt?

Would You Lie to Your Kids?

Well, would you?

“This cut is not that bad.”

“The shot won’t hurt.”

“An overweight, gray-haired man goes around the world in one night bringing presents to all children while riding in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer.”

“Moms don’t get sick.”

We have all, at some point, told a little white lie, fudged the truth, massaged the numbers, to appease our children. It was an interesting thing when talking with friends, (it really is amazing the conversations we will have while running), when we were talking about nutrition and the lengths we will go to be sure that our children eat healthy.

I sometimes lie to my kids. There, I said it. I try really hard to be sure that they eat well, (not perfect), and work stuff in wherever I can. I purchased a book about hiding vegetables in your kids’ food and shared tricks with my friend Maggie about how to take it further. Maggie, by the way, is the master when it comes to hiding nutrition in stuff. Anyway, I have been known to puree carrots, cauliflower, beets, broccoli, basically any vegetable they won’t eat and can be hid nicely in a specific dish. Carrots are for tacos, broccoli is for meatballs, beets make a pink pancake, (not a winner in our house) and cauliflower in macaroni and cheese (again, not a winner). At first I was sneaky about this. Then, the kids caught me putting the carrots into the taco meat so I had to confess. About the carrots in the tacos. No mention has been made about the broccoli. And it will stay that way, if you catch my drift.

Another example.. I started adding flax seeds to my diet. One afternoon the kids were having some yogurt for a snack so I asked them if they wanted sprinkles. I showed them the brown seeds. Mid asked, “Are those chocolate sprinkles?” How did I respond? “Sure… but they’re so small, you’ll barely taste it.” Bingo. All three had “sprinkles” on their yogurt for a couple of months. It all ended when they saw me putting the sprinkles on my yogurt and read the bag. Darn reading and literacy education.

How we (partly) defeated McDonalds.. The last time we went to McDs for a quick meal on the run, one of my kids was a bit under the weather. I did not think much of it, really, just thought they needed some rest. It turns out he had a little stomach bug, as evidenced by his vomiting later that night. All three of the kids attributed his sickness with McDs. They asked me if it makes ME sick. I replied, “yes, fried food makes me feel yucky.” That, by the way, is not a lie, but when they asked for confirmation as to whether the fried food made their brother sick, I replied, “probably.” We have not been to a McDs since.

So, I was telling my running buddies about my little tricks and our coach asks me, with playful snark,”So, how do you feel about lying to your kids?”  I replied, “I guess, depending on the situation, I am pretty comfortable with it.” I mean, the above are little examples as to how I have gotten my kids to eat better. Moving forward, they are going to ask me all sorts of questions, and will I be totally honest with them? I just don’t know.

I am thinking of big questions like “Did you ever drink alcohol before you were legal?” “Did you have sex before you got married?” Big stuff. Should I be totally, 100% disclosure honest? Were my parents? (rhetorical question, no answer please) I stand with my initial remark, “Depending on the situation, I am pretty comfortable with it.” Now, it you will excuse me, I am off to bake brownies with nutrient-rich black beans.

So..  would you?  have you?  Discuss..

Mid’s Birthday

How did this baby boy get so big?

Its happening.  My children are growing older, smarter, funnier, more independent..  at times it takes my breath away.

Recently Mid celebrated his 9th birthday.  We invited of few of his friends to Calaway Park in Calgary.  It was a really nice day.  I am thankful for the friends Mid has made and the boys that were at his party; such nice kids.  Some of the parents stuck around, which was terrific.  They were an extra set of hands and eyes as our merry little troop navigated the rides.

So, nine years ago today, JB and I got up out of bed, took Girl to day care and informed her that when her dad came to pick her up later that day, she would be a big sister.   Worth noting, due to complications from my pregnancy with her, I had to have a C-section and it was scheduled for Tuesday morning.  It was a bit weird to pick my son’s birthdate, but as a Type A German, it was also nice to be able to plan for his arrival.  So after dropping Girl at day care, we were off to check into the hospital.  At the time, my parents lived about an hour away.  We told them they did not have to come, that we would call them when Mid was born, but they showed up anyway.  Its kind of cute how my parents try to be all cool and together when exciting stuff is happening in our family and they just have to be part of it.  Anyway… my parents were there.

Over the past nine years, Mid has challenged me in ways that his older sister has not.  He climbed through the kitchen cabinets.  He bull-rushed the baby gate to keep him safe from falling down the stairs.  He threw tantrums.  Every now and then, he looks at me, hugs me and tells me, ever so tenderly, “you are the best mom I’ve ever had”, giggles and runs off.  I have not been allowed to hold his hand or kiss him in public for two years.  *sigh*

I am getting all misty again, so back to the party.  Mid decided that he had enough stuff, so we had a food drive.  He asked that his friends bring items for the food pantry in place of bringing presents.  Super proud of him for that.  And a bit relieved, because I really don’t want to figure out how to cram more beeping plastic into our house.  But I digress.

 

Highlights of the day were the many rides the boys went on throughout the park.   On the first ride someone let it slip that there was a birthday boy present.  The attendant stopped everything and had all those within earshot sing “Happy Birthday” to Mid.  He was embarrassed.  And by that, I mean he loved it.  Apprentice went on his first roller coaster, no doubt influenced by his longing to do anything/everything his brother does.  My daughter brought a friend, so not to be surrounded by boys – ick! – all day.  They had a blast doing their own thing.  At last, the time came for brownies and snacks.   Like starving wolves, the boys descended on the picnic table to pick up snacks and juice.  Silly me, I brought napkins and forks.  When the feeding frenzy was over, so was the party and the brownies I had lovingly prepared, (with the help of a box mix labeled “Ghirardelli”, don’t judge), had disappeared.  A most satisfying day.

Today I am thankful for the second of my children.  Happy Birthday!

mmm… birthday ice cream…

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