I will not go to my daughter’s softball practice today. I did not tell my husband why, and I will avoid telling him if I can. I will just let him think I am a bit selfish today, that I have other things that I need/want to do, and I will probably go next time. I like to go and show her support normally, but this is not normal. At the last practice they announced that all the parents will be “playing” against their kids, and to be sure not to wear flip flops and be ready to play. There’s one problem. I can’t play. Anything. Other than reflexes, and good hand-eye coordination, my body completely betrays me.
I dreamed, my whole life, of being an athlete, of throwing my body into a perfect arc that bounced into a beautiful handspring, of doing chin-ups like Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, of volleying in tennis, of making a perfect catch smack into a well worn leather glove. But dreams are just dreams. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. I practiced gymnastics over and over in PE in junior high school. I wanted to do what the cheerleaders did. But I couldn’t even bend my neck right to do a backwards roll. And I practiced over and over again, at home, on a mat that I’d bought. I could do a backbend. A crooked cartwheel. A forward roll that bent my neck and made my head throb. Mom signed me up for tennis lessons, swimming lessons, ballet. She put me on a swim team. I got disqualified from the breast stroke, my only heat, because I took too many strokes under water. I didn’t even know that was a rule.
When it was time to play sports in elementary school, I never even had a chance. I skipped the third grade, which is where you learn the rules for all those games. I went from recess to sports whose rules I knew not at all. A boy in my class literally tried to explain kickball to me while I was standing in line to kick. I couldn’t kick. And when it came to baseball, I couldn’t hit a ball. Even though my dad worked with me, I didn’t hold the bat right. I screamed and ducked when balls came at me instead of catching them. I stood as far as I could out in the outfield and prayed that nothing would come to me.
But there was no avoiding the turn at bat, at kicking, at volleyball. When I came up to the plate, the boys would begin to shout, cruelly, taunting, “EVERYBODY MOVE UP! EASY OUT! EASY OUT!” The whole field would suck inward in a bloodthirsty attempt to be the one that would stop the ball that I’d kicked only feet in front of me, so they could hurl the ball at my chest, my butt, my head. My heart would pound as I came up to the plate, and I would strike out, or the ball would be grabbed and hurled at me. I would slink to the back of the line, head down, and pray I wouldn’t have another turn before the game was over. Tears would sting my eyes, and I would chant to myself, “Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry.”
Volley ball in junior high, everything was the same. I would cower behind the other players, praying the ball wouldn’t come to me. Everybody had to take a turn serving, and the ball would slam awkwardly off my wrist, if it hit it at all, bruising me and sending the ball off the court toward the coach. I saw the scene in Twilight where Bella hits the ball into the guy’s head, and I thought, that scene is inaccurate. She would have missed the ball altogether, and instead of flirting with the guy she hit, she would have cowered and blinked burning tears from her eyes. That was volleyball as I knew it. The skill I learned best while playing sports was how to avoid interaction of any sort.
And the old joke about being picked last? That tired old joke? It’s not funny. It’s not funny if it happens to you over and over and over and over, and they fight over who has to take you. And they groan when they get stuck with you, and roll their eyes.
And now they want me to play ball in front of my daughter. I can’t hit. I can’t catch. I can’t throw. I really can’t run. My daughter is a superb athlete; she gets it from her father, and she is more skilled at seven than I ever have been, or ever will be, in my life. She can catch anything. She can hit anything. I can’t go to that dark place in front of her, other children, other parents, my husband. I’m crying a little now, just thinking about what if I had to do it.
My husband can’t find out why I’m not going. If he does, he’ll think he’s doing me a huge favor by pushing me to go. He’ll think, I just need to try, it’s just a game, I need to get over those old childish fears, no one is going to treat me badly on the field, I need to suck it up, grow up, and try. He doesn’t understand. He never will. He inherited a perfect, athletic body, that looks tight and muscled even when he isn’t working out. He has never failed or sucked at any sport. His only possible disadvantage is his height, but he sometimes brags about his vertical leap, his reflexes, his speed. His body just does what he asks it to. In all the times he has practiced throwing, batting or catching with my daughter, inside or outside the house, I have never seen him miss or even bobble a ball. That arm just shoots out, and SLAM, that ball is in the glove.
I know my husband thinks that I can’t play sports because I just haven’t tried enough. I know I have tried enough. When I was in med school, I dated a guy who was a big Ultimate Frisbee player. Big. Huge. As in, he went to Nationals every year. He made it a condition of dating him, you had to at least try to play the sport. If I met someone like that now, I’d kick him in the teeth and the balls and tell him to take his conditional ass to freaking hell. But I was young, and he was so cute, and so smart, and so funny and I wanted him. I wanted him to admire me. Even if it meant exposing my deepest fears about performing athletically. I told myself it would be good for me; that he was good for me, that I needed to suck it up and really try. Sound familiar?
I practiced throwing that disc with him and his friends every time we were outside. I did windsprints with him. I did pullups and crunches and scrimaged every chance I got. I got as good as I was going to get. But my slow body just wouldn’t respond. In a game, making a run to a thrower to try to receive a pass, I would drag, blocking the players behind me, my man on defense somehow in front of me, blocking me, cutting me off. There would be shouts of, “You’re clogging!”, a cardinal sin of getting in the way of the flow of the offense. And if I somehow got the disc in my hand, all those throws I’d practiced so hard would be meaningless, as my man on D would simply flow around me, and my throw would bounce off them and to the ground and into the hands of the defense.
The worst thing was, everyone knew I didn’t want to play. They knew what his conditions were. And he had dated a large number of the female players, all of whom were good and athletic, and I had to humiliate myself in front of them, be defeated by them, and pay for taking their guy. Whole teams hated me just because I had hurt one of their players just by dating him at all. It was a horrible five years. I tried for five years to be someone I wasn’t, just because I wanted someone to love and admire me. So yes, I think I’ve tried hard enough.
I won’t go to practice tonight. My hands would shake as I walked to the plate. I would swing weakly, ineffectively, and I would miss the ball. I would cower if a ball came at me. I don’t even remember which hand a glove goes on. I own one. My daddy bought me one; lovingly tattooing my name in it with a pin and ink. He tried. Really hard. But sometimes trying just isn’t enough. I can’t go back to that dark place. I can’t and I won’t. And I won’t justify myself to my husband, because he has never failed at anything athletic, and he really can’t comprehend the scars of years of struggle and humiliation.
I refuse to hear my daughter, derisively, not understanding my pain, laughing at me because I don’t stand right and I don’t swing right and I can’t hit the ball and I can’t use a glove. She doesn’t know any better. She’s never failed at anything athletic either. I love to see that in her, though. She is so blessed. I won’t say I live through her, because I don’t, but I watch her perfect body and her perfect moves and I just glow to think that something like that came out of me. But I won’t go there, to that place. I’m crying again now because the thought hurts me so much. I’m not going to watch my daughter practice today. And it isn’t because I don’t care. I care too much.
I know that this doesn’t sound too interesting at first glance. Nebraska???? I have to thank my husband, first, for keeping me in touch with my family. I am one of those people who, if you’re not in the room with me, you may or may not exist. It’s not quite that bad, but I am horrible at keeping in touch with my family and friends. Before I got married, I only saw my poor parents a few times a year, mandatory holidays maybe, even though they were about three hours away. Shame on me.
All of my friends, from childhood on, I have totally neglected. My three best friends, the three who stood up with me at my wedding, I am barely in touch with. The only reason I saw my grade school friend this year is because she got married. And that was an impressive move for me, because there certainly would have been times in my life when I wouldn’t have even managed to make the wedding, even though it was in the same state.
My best friend from high school I communicate with only on Facebook, even though she now lives in the same town as my parents. My excuse? She’s a dancer, and for the past several years I’ve been too embarassed to have her see me this fat. Now that I’ve lost 25 pounds, well, maybe a visit is in order.
My college friend, I seem to keep in touch with only by text. And she’s only an hour and a half away! We do enjoy sending each other sarcastic random texts at odd hours though, in a (usually successful) bid to make each other laugh. And when something significant happens we’re texting away. We both have extremely questionable senses of humor, inappropriate mostly I would say, and I can share my conversations with her with very few people, mainly my husband. That’s why he’s my husband. He gets it.
Back to Nebraska. Odd vacation spot, I know, but both sides of my family hail from there. I am three quarters German, one quarter Czech. And both my folks were born and raised in Nebraska. They went to college there. They got married there. We have family there.
Before my husband came along, all the family was forgotten. Once my grandparents were gone, it was easy to drift away from aunts and uncles and cousins. Until DH came on the scene, I hadn’t seen most of these folks in years. Fortunately, my husband likes to visit family. Even inlaws. He managed to find a speaking venue for his profession in Omaha, and once a year now we go back so he can lecture (and write the trip off as business) and so we can visit both sides of my family.
We usually visit my mom’s side (her sister, mainly) for a couple days in Grand Island, and hook up with my dad’s brother in Omaha. Now that DH has sold the plane, we have to fly commercial, but I kind of like that better anyway. It’s a lot of work to get a plane packed and ready to fly, and a small plane is a little choppy for my taste. And the reality of only one engine is a little unnerving.
This year we arrived Thursday and drove to Grand Island. We spent the day visiting my aunt and uncle, my cousin and his wife and two boys. Here were some “goings on”:
The following day my aunt and I packed up and went to Ravenna to take my great aunt (the last surviving sibling of my grandmother) out to lunch. She’s in her eighties now and has a bit of trouble getting around. My aunt played a little trick on her and sent me to the door to get her when we went to pick her up. She was gambling that she probably wouldn’t recognize me. She didn’t. She looked a bit concerned when she answered her door and saw this stranger standing there. I reminded her who I was, and fortunately, she remembered.
On the way home, I spied this beautiful barn and persuaded my aunt to stop and let me shoot pictures of it:
Once we got to Omaha, DH went to give his lecture, and A and I took off to local kid attractions: the Children’s Museum and the zoo. I admit, children’s museums are a particular type of hell for me. They all seem to be exactly alike. They all have some kind of chutes-play-in-the-water-doohickey that gets your kids all wet. They all have messy paint and glue, to create lopsided wet sticky constructions which your kid will want you to carry around until the end of time. And worst of all, they all have some ungodly plastic ball machine where you stuff balls into numerous machine orifices and watch while the balls are pumped/rolled/pushed/bounced from one place to another in the gadget. And there is always a part of the machine that sends all the balls cascading down, so that your kid can stuff balls into it again. And again. And again. And again. For two hours. Existential hell. So here are some pics. Notice that there are none of the infernal ball machine. But I promise it was there.
Next stop was the Omaha Zoo. They have a fairly nice zoo, but I do have one gripe with it: the walks between attractions are way too long, and way too empty. So between displays, there are seemingly endless hikes along loopy sidewalks with nothing to look at, and the place is so convoluted that you can’t really find yourself on the map. At least, I can’t. But I’m not too great with maps. We did see some cool stuff at the zoo:
We went out walking the last night in the Old Market area of Omaha, which is really cool and funky. We had hoped to meet my dad’s brother and wife and daughter there, but they had gone to the University of Nebraska Spring Game that day in Lincoln. We did get to meet up with them a bit the following morning before we had to hop our plane to get home.
I think my hubby is just the greatest for getting me out to see family and friends that I would otherwise never get around to going to see!
My husband and I were fortunate to go on a trip to Costa Rica last week. Neither of us have been there before so it was a special treat. He was actually giving two lectures on Saturday, so he was able to write off his portion of the trip for his business. We stayed in San Jose where his conference was being held. The hotel was nice but I must say that San Jose is not my favorite city. There is not much for historic buildings, the traffic is crazy, and the majority of the city is comprised of tin roofed shacks with very expensive satellite dishes on top of them. There are a lot of pickpockets.
We arrived on Thursday and just kind of took it easy. We had a nice dinner on the top floor of our hotel, which yielded a beautiful view of the lights of the city. It is supposed to be the highest elevated restaurant in San Jose. I had smoked salmon with avocado and hearts of palm, which was quite delicious. Then we returned to our room and collapsed.
Friday DH had scheduled a tour of San Jose. In the morning we took ourselves to the Jade Museum, which was pretty interesting and had lots of fascinating pre-Columbian artifacts. Our official tour was in the afternoon. We went to the Gold Museum, the Teatro Nacional, the city’s main park and went past the local universities, which are free to Costa Rican citizens. The guide told us that Costa Rica has no standing army – that they have put that money into education for all their citizens, and they have the highest literacy rate of any country in Central America.
Artifacts at the Jade museum:
Friday night was Kevin’s speaker dinner, which was held for all the speakers in Saturday’s conference. They took us up frightenly steep, winding, and potholed hills to an amazing restaurant which was on a mountain high atop San Jose, and the view of the lights of the city below was absolutely stunning. They had a buffet of local cuisine, which was delicious, and native Costa Rican dancers who demonstrated traditional Costa Rican dance from almost 100 years ago.
Photos from our fabulous dinner:
The next day DH had his conference, so I was on my own. I arranged a tour that went to a coffee plantation, Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfalls. We went to the coffee plantation first and learned about the process of making coffee. I bought delicious coffee for my parents and my hubby, and chocolate covered coffee beans.
We then went to Poas Volcano, and to a lake at a higher elevation than the volcano. We had a fabulous time but it was quite a hike. We were only allowed to stay at the volcano for about 30 minutes, because it is active and there are poisonous gases. I got my exercise for the day, and a chance for some beautiful pictures:
Next we went to La Paz, home of a wildlife reclamation center and two beautiful waterfalls. Costa Rica frowns on captivity of local wildlife (or exotic wildlife) by private citizens. If found, they are confiscated. They cannot be released to the wild, because they have been domesticated, so they are kept at this center on display to visitors. The waterfalls were amazing. The second one, called Magico Blanco, was an optical illusion that was bizarre. If you stare at the heart of the waterfall and count to ten, when you look to the right of the falls, the mountain appears to be crawling upwards. The effect lasts for a while, and I felt like I had been fed some funny mushrooms.
Pictures from La Paz:
The following day was Sunday, and my DH and I spent the entire day on a guided birding tour. There are so many pics from that trip that I will save it for an new post tomorrow. I would just like to point out that I am at last allowing myself to appear in photos, because since embarking on my new life as a travel doctor, I have lost 25 pounds! 25 more and I’ll be back to my old fighting weight!
I have so enjoyed having time to be home with my family this past couple weeks. My daughter had a school play in which she was the announcer and also a miniature poodle. She needed a poodle costume. In my previous life as a harried full time Ob/Gyn, I never had time to enjoy things like making poodle costumes. Instead, I was filled with dread, knowing that I didn’t have time to come up with anything good. I would throw something together, half-assed, seeking solace in the fact that A would probably think my offering was fine, not knowing that I was capable of much, much better.
I spent several days on this poodle costume. I went shopping for costume pieces. I found a gray hoodie on sale in the boy’s department at Target. I found gray capri yoga pants in the girl’s section at Wal-Mart, on sale. I found furry white slippers at Gymboree as back paws, as well as a pair of gray leggings with sequins on the lower legs, as possible substitutes for bottom legs in case the capri yoga pants didn’t work out. I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a yard of shedding white fur, and went to Pet Smart and bought a fancy pink dog collar in a size that would fit my daughter.
When A came home, we tried on the yoga pants and the hoodie. They fit great. I measured the length of the capri pant bottoms to my daughter’s ankles: about 4 inches. We checked out the slippers and the dog collar. I was ready to start sewing.
While my daughter was at school the next day, I started working. I cut 4 inch wide strips of the white fur and stitched them firmly to the hem portion of the yoga pants, all the way around. I was able to hide the join of the completed circle of fur by stitching down the side of it with white thread. I found a plain white t-shirt A could wear under her zip up hoodie.
It was then time to put the wrist cuffs on. I measured about 3 inches I needed to put around the cuffs of the hoodie, and cut out a strip of fur 3 inches wide, and long enough to make a full cuff around each arm. I stitched these on as well, anchoring to the thicker cuffs of the sleeves of the hoodie, but left the lower part of the fur unstitched to the very bottom of the cuffs, since they narrow and are stretchy. The rest was anchored down well. I then cut another 3 inch wide strip of fur, long enough to stitch all the way around the bottom of the hoodie, from one side of the zipper to the other, but not encroaching on or covering the zipper. I stitched this down onto the thick cuff material on the bottom of the hoodie.
It was then time for a tail. I have all sorts of craft materials stashed in my attic, because I have always known I would have a daughter, years before I had her, and because if you keep craft materials long enough, you will eventually always need them. I had three boxes full of leather scraps, including a big piece of white suede. I cut a strip of this, long and wide enough to make a good long tail. After all, poodles have shaved tails until you get to the ball at the end. I folded a ball of the white fur and sutured it down to the end of the tail. I then sewed the opposite end of the tail to the seat of the capri pants, taking care not to put it too high or too low in the crotch where it would be irritating.
Then it was time for ears. I drew a pattern of poodle-like ear shapes, folded a piece of the white fur in half, flat sides up, pinned the pattern to it, and cut two identical ears. I picked a spot on the hood of the hoodie that made the ears look as realistic as possible: not too far up, since dog ears don’t start at the top of their head, and not too low. I stitched a rectangular portion of the ears down, leaving the rest at the bottom to move freely. As a final touch, I cut apart three of her hair elastics and removed pink bows from them. I sewed the larger one to the ball of the tail, and the smaller matching two to the bottoms of the ears. Voila! Instant poodle!
We tried the costume on when she got home and she was ecstatic. It looked great! They had to bring their costumes to school early in the week of the play to have them approved; she passed with flying colors. She was poodle-ready!
Unfortunately, I missed the actual play, as Kevin and I took a little trip to Costa Rica right then. My parents, however, were keeping her that week, and both attended the play and Mom took copious pictures, which she posted on Facebook. I think she had one of the best costumes in the whole play! I felt like a real mom, not just a wooden one. It was so exciting to really take part in creating something special for her, that I knew that she would enjoy and that would make her stand out. I felt like an involved mom and not a slacker mom for the first time!
Here is the full view of the poodle costume:
Here is a pic from Mom, of the poodle costume in action:
My daughter is playing softball for her third year in a row. She started when she was four. Her father has been working hard with her, even in the winter when they throw in the house. We haven’t broken any windows yet. This year, they have had the 7-9 year old girls group start pitching, which has been fairly pointless. Basically, there are three automatic walks and then the coach starts pitching with the bases loaded. The girls aren’t too accurate yet.
This year she started on a pretty bad team. She was out of town for the tryouts, so no one got to see how good she is. She is easily the best catcher on the team. Her usual spot is first base, which is pretty darn effective, because she can catch just about anything she is thrown. Unfortunately, they’ve had her on the pitcher’s mound for the first 3 at bats each inning, and she’s not a very good pitcher because she’s only been practicing it for about 3 weeks. She expects to be good at it right away because she forgets that she has been practicing throwing and catching and batting for 3 whole years. I think she does more good on first base and they should keep her there.
Since I am now doing the travel doctor stuff, I have 2 or 3 weeks at a time at home now to spend time with my family. I have been going to all the softball games and practices. My husband and I have matching Ladybugs t-shirts that say “Bean’s Mom” and “Bean’s Dad” on the back. We went to the grocery store after a game all decked out and several people commented on what a cute little family we were. A looks super cute in her Ladybugs uniform: red ladybug T-shirt, black pants, and red and black socks with ladybugs on them. She also has a red Cardinals hat and a ladybug hair ribbon that she can’t wear because her bobbed hair is too short.
I was at the first game that they won and I took pictures of the whole thing. I got some great pics of her making some plays at first and batting. Of course you will now have to suffer through these pictures because I am so proud of her! She is a bit discouraged that her team doesn’t win too much but they are getting better and they actually won again last night! It got cold this week after a storm and we were all bundled up at the game yesterday.
So here are some pictures of Miss A. on her team playing softball:
Maybe the weather will be warmer for the next game.
I realize it’s been a dog’s age since I’ve published anything here. But for once this is a good thing. You see, I’ve been so darn happy and content since I’ve started with the travel doctor thing – I work out of state for 2-3 weeks at a time, and that’s fun because of meeting new people and seeing new places and trying new things, plus I get a little break from family stuff. Then I’m home for 2-3 weeks at a time, and when I’m here, I get to spend all my time with the fam – so far I’ve sewn my daughter a fabulous costume for her school play (which I did miss because DH and I were in Costa Rica for a much needed getaway, but hey, my folks went and took a bunch of pictures), gone to umpteen softball games and practices, taught my daughter how to do an off-loom beadweaving piece, cooked for my family, exercised, dropped 25 pounds, and accompanied my daughter on my first ever chaperone-field trip-Mommy adventure. I will be sure to discuss this all in detail, if I can stop having fun long enough to sit down and write about it.
Yesterday I chaperoned a field trip of 7 classes of second graders to a beautiful place here in Alabama called Cathedral Caverns. It was an amazing site and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes caves, traveling, awesome forces of nature and beautiful things to give it a try. It is also a state park. I followed the 3 buses in my van, which was quite the experience because those bus drivers drive with an extreme sense of purpose, I must say. I won’t say they were dangerous, but they sure led us parent-types on a merry chase for an hour.
On arrival, I experienced a level of extreme screaming that I have not had since I myself was going on field trips. Not just my daughter’s 7 second grade classes were there, but buses from several other schools. The noise level is something like going into one of those humming Danger: High Voltage transformer enclosures, and actually sticking one’s head into the transformer.
We finally gathered our flock together and entered the cave. I do see now, if there has ever been any doubt, why I did not go into the field of elementary education. But the cave trumped all the crazy kids and it was beautiful!
So I had my first awesome experience as a chaperone and it was great! After a picnic lunch, the kids panned for gemstones and we got to take home a big bag of rocks. Also there was the gift shop of course, a necessary part of any travel experience! We bought a beautiful agate geode slice with a stand and brought it home to add to A’s rock collection.