Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back and Ahead

Another year has come and gone.  The old cliche about time passing faster the older you get is very true.  My kids are growing up faster than my heart wants to allow, and I'm trying to cherish every moment.

This year brought me so much to be grateful for.  My kids are happy and healthy, able to pursue their interests and dreams.  J has come so far with his baseball.  He continues to amaze me every day with his dedication and determination to make his dream a reality.  N has discovered a love of music that will hopefully stay with him for a lifetime.  He's blossomed as a singer and it warms my heart whenever I hear him sing.  A continues to be her sassy, unique self, and brings laughter and sunshine to our lives.  All three kids are doing well in school, for which I am very proud of all of them.  Hubby has a steady job with good security, providing all of us with all that we need and more.  I've been blessed with an amazing family that I couldn't be more proud of.

The year ahead promises to be filled with fun and excitement.  J will be playing high school ball again and continue his training.  In the summer, he'll play for TP again in what promises to be a fun and competitive season.  He'll be back in the pool by late spring, and is sure to go far in his junior swim season.  N is looking forward to beginning piano lessons and achieving his Arrow of Light award for Cub Scouts.  A will have three baton competitions in the upcoming months, as well as continuing with dance and Daisy scouts.  In June, we'll travel to Virginia for Cousin B's high school graduation.  The rest of our summer travels will be with TP as they travel the state for weekend tournaments.  When a new school year begins in the fall, I'll have a first grader, a sixth grader, and a high school junior, which is hard for me to fathom.  I plan to cherish and enjoy every moment of the year ahead.

Wishing you and yours a healthy and happy new year!  

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Word From Coach C

Hello all,
         When Mrs. M asked me to write a guest post for the blog I was excited by the opportunity to relay my thoughts to her readers directly. As you know by the earlier posts on this blog J is currently participating in an extensive strength and conditioning program which is coupled with a stringent diet. Both programs have been crafted to enhance J's athleticism, thus improving his baseball ability and consequentially putting him in a better position to impress colleges. When I first began coaching J I was immediately impressed with his work ethic. While there were certain parts of his game that needed improvement, his unyielding support for his teammates along with his unbreakable spirit made him stand out on a team filled with high caliber ball players. As a coach, it is both my job and passion to construct programs and help players take their game as far as they'd like to go: however, there are certain young men who inspire coaches to go the extra mile. While I always provide help to players who ask, there are certain players that I actually want to help, because I know that they will give me their all no matter what. As a coach, thats all I can ever ask for, and J is one of these individuals. He is a young man of the finest quality, and his commitment to this strenuous program is a testament to his tremendous character. As of right now, I would honestly rate J's progress as very good, but with room for improvement. Now that I have corrected certain misunderstandings he had in regards to the form of his lifts, I am very excited to see his gains. I'll have him all week next week on the beach at mini camp which will be a nice jump start to help him prepare for tryouts. The way I see it, J is in an excellent position to make a run at his dreams. He is surrounded by a loving mother, a supportive father, and along with two very energetic siblings they create a wonderful family that will be the foundation for not only his success in baseball, but his future successes in life. To me, that is what this program has been about. it is a program aimed at improving his physique and bettering himself as an athlete, but it is designed to challenge him not only physically, but mentally. It cultures not merely muscle growth, but emotional growth. It builds confidence, because when J looks back on how far he's gone, and how much he's accomplished, he can be proud of what he has done. My philosophy of practice is that confidence stems from a player earning something. When a player has toiled, and worked, and battled in practice, he has earned the right to win. That is confidence. Regardless of results, rewards, or retribution, as other players sat and did nothing, J has proven that he is not simply common, but that he is extraordinary. To me, that is more important than any home run, any diving catch, any victory. To me, that is the greatest victory of all. I hope you all continue to support J as he continues on his journey, I know he appreciates it. And I hope you all continue to be as proud of him as I am. Thank you for your time.

-Coach C

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Dream Team

Regular readers of this blog know J's history with Coach C.  To recap quickly for new readers or those not in the know, J met Coach C when he went to try out for the TP summer team last April.  Right from the start, he and Coach C clicked,  and J had tremendous respect for him as a coach.  Hubby and I were impressed with  the way Coach C coached not just J, but the entire team.  Over the course of the summer, as we came to know Coach C better, hubby and I decided to ask how he felt about mentoring J as he pursues his dream of playing college and possibly professional baseball.  Coach C agreed and what began as a partnership to help J on his road to college baseball rapidly turned into a lasting friendship.

Coach C has provided training, support and friendship to J for the past eight months.  In that time period, hubby and I have come to know Coach C not just as a fantastic baseball coach, which he is, but as a truly good hearted young man whom we now consider part of our family.  We're extremely grateful to have Coach C as a coach, mentor, role model, and friend for J.  We're also grateful for the way he has become a friend to N and A, and to us.  He's much more than J's coach to all of us.  He's a treasured friend.

Over these past eight months,  as I've watched J and Coach C working so hard, I've come to think of them as something of a dream team.  Hubby and I are supporting members of the team, since J's training is a real group effort.  But J and Coach C are the heart and soul of the team.   J's the heart because it's his dream that led us all to this point.  And I do believe that all paths led us to exactly where we are right now.  Coach C is the soul, because without his expertise and guidance, none of this would have been possible.  He not only maps out the entire program, he offers unending support and encouragement to all of us.  I've  frequently shared my thoughts on J's training.  And recently I shared J's point of view.  So I thought it made perfect sense to ask Coach C to share his point of view.  He's agreed to do a guest post sharing his thoughts and feelings on J's training.  Look for it in a day or two.  I'm sure you'll enjoy hearing from him!

She's Got Swag

Anyone who has met A can tell you that she is a unique combination of sassy, sweet, and funny. There's no telling what she might do or say at any given moment.  She keeps everyone who knows her in stitches.  Recently a friend asked me if I was writing down all the funny things A says and does.  This post seemed like a good place to highlight some of A's funnier moments.

The day after Christmas A got dressed in a new outfit, put an iPod in her pocket, and informed me she had "swag" while dancing to whatever song was playing in her ear buds.

When she first joined the baton team, I asked A if she was excited about getting to go to baton competitions.  Her reply, "Is that where I get to fight other baton girls?"

A planning her wedding to Coach C, complete with choosing the wedding party, the venue, and the cake flavor.  She generously agreed to moving the venue if Coach C has class on the chosen date.

The creative ensembles A comes up with when dressing herself.  Past favorites include a jersey, leggings, fuzzy robe, princess slippers, and sunglasses.  Another favorite was her school uniform, leg warmers, a heart print fleece jacket, princess hat and gloves, and the princess slippers.

A informing J's friend R that he couldn't be her boyfriend because she's marrying  Coach C.   She told R he would just have to deal with it and get over her.

The poses A strikes anytime there is a camera in the vicinity.  I've included some of my favorites below:





So there you are.  Some of A's latest and greatest moments.  I'm sure there are countless ones that I've forgotten, and many more to come.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Seventeen Weeks Done

J has completed seventeen weeks of his training program.  Seventeen weeks of hard work and dedication are behind him.  Week eighteen begins today, and along with it, the countdown to school try outs begins.  Try outs are in four weeks and J is determined to be ready.  Coach C is determined to have him ready.  As usual, I'm here to do whatever the two of them need me to do to help make it happen.

Let me start off by giving you a brief update on how Coach C feels J has done up to this point.  J has made definite progress overall and is likely in the best shape he's ever been in.  However, there are a few areas for even more improvement.  Coach C was able to come over last week and monitor J during his workout.  Some of the exercises J had been doing correctly and he moved him to a more advanced level.  There were a few though that J had not been doing quite correctly.  So after razzing him for an appropriate amount of time, Coach C corrected his form and got him on the right track.  J has not gained the weight that Coach C had hoped and the conclusion is that J has not been lifting heavy enough weights.  So for the next four weeks Coach C has changed up his lifting routine, J is increasing the weight he's using, and trying some new exercises.  He's doing well with his running program and in fact begins the fifth workout in the running series this week.   This past weekend, he and Coach C spent time on the baseball field working on his mechanics.  Coach C is pretty happy with him there, but again, there are some areas they are focusing on intently to polish J for try outs.   The week following New Year's they will be hitting the beach for five days of intense training before school resumes for both of them.

For me, it's been nice having Coach C home and available to take over the monitoring of J's training for the time being.  J is happy to have him around, despite the increased intensity because he gets so much out of the methods  Coach C uses to coach him.   J's training is a real group effort, with all of us working together to get J where he needs to be.  Hubby, Coach C, and I are all so proud of him for everything he's achieved these past seventeen weeks.  He's done fantastic and the pay off for all the hard work is right around the corner.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pageant Memories

Tomorrow is one of my favorite events of the year, the annual school Christmas Pageant.  This week has been crammed full of rehearsal, prepping costumes, and helping the teachers make sure everything runs smoothly.  This will be the twelfth year I've watched the pageant and I'm looking forward to it just as much as I was all those years ago when J was in it for the very first time.  I thought I'd share some of my favorite memories of pageants past.

My very first pageant, when J was a tiny star, along with all the other pre-k students.  It made me cry then, just like it will tomorrow.

J as the star on the Christmas tree in 2nd gr looking sleepy enough to topple off the top of the risers.

N as a herald angel in first grade, proudly carrying his golden horn.

N in second grade leading the other second graders in singing "O Christmas Tree" and Jesus Loves Me".

The school choir singing "O Come All Ye Faithful" in both English and Latin.

J as a lead shepherd in 8th gr, giving the opening remarks at the start of the pageant.  It was the first time in school history it was done by a student rather than the principal.

A making her pageant debut last year as a pre-k star.

J in the audience for the first time last year, quietly singing along with all the songs.

A sitting on the altar drumming on her knees to the beat of "The Little Drummer Boy".

I have many more pageant memories, but these are truly my favorites.  I can't wait to add some more tomorrow.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Weekend Fun

This weekend was a typically busy one for us, though we did some not so typical stuff.  First up, N's chorus had their holiday concert Saturday evening.  Beforehand, the entire family went out for a late lunch at a Japanese steakhouse to celebrate Cousin C's birthday.  The concert was held at a nearby senior center as part of a holiday celebration for the members.  Families were  able to attend, too, and the chorus sounded wonderful as always.   The director, Mrs. S, does a great job with the group.  Below is a picture of N in his formal chorus uniform.

 
Following the concert, hubby, J, A, J's friend R, and I headed for UF, where J and R were scheduled to attend a camp on Sunday(N stayed behind to attend a cub scout event).  We spent the night in a hotel due to the early morning camp check in time.  Sunday morning, we headed to the baseball stadium for the camp.  Coach C joined us to observe the camp, much to A's delight (yes, she's still crushing on him).  J did pretty well during the camp, though Coach C did give him some things he needs to work on.  Midway through the day, Coach C left to attend an event at his fraternity and hubby, A, and I met our friend K and her three kids for lunch.  We hadn't seen them in three years, so it was nice getting to catch up.  After lunch, we met Coach C back at the stadium to watch the remainder of the camp.  Following the camp, Coach C took us on a tour of the UF campus, which we all, especially J, enjoyed.  We capped off the day with dinner out, where Coach C discussed J's training with him and outlined what he'll be doing the next several weeks.  Let's just say it will be intense!  I've included a few photos from the day below.







Friday, November 25, 2011

Training Update

J has completed fourteen weeks of his training program.  It's been a long, hard road filled with ups and downs, but he's doing great.  I continue to be amazed at the dedication he's shown and of course, I'm so proud of him.  He's also doing really well in school, even in chemistry, which has given him some problems this semester.  This past Wednesday he had his weekly hitting lesson down at TP.  Coach C was home for Thanksgiving and was able to come to TP to see for himself how J's doing.  He was very pleased with what he saw and outlined the upcoming weeks for J.  The intensity of J's workouts will be increasing as his goal is to gain weight in the form of lean muscle.  They'll also be shifting the focus to getting J as prepared as possible for the try outs for the school team which are coming up in January.  J was happy to see Coach C and get a pep talk from him.  It's never quite the same coming from me.   Coach C gave him the past three days off from working out, which J has enjoyed to the fullest.  Tomorrow he'll be right back on the program, ready to face the challenges that lie ahead.        

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Lessons From the Field

Over the years, I've sat through countless baseball games.  I've seen some pretty crazy stuff, from wacky to disgraceful.  There are some things you just don't ever want to be caught doing.  Unless you don't mind being the laughingstock or the most hated parent at the field.  Here's a list:

Do not go and sit in the opposing team's bleachers to cheer for your team.  It's obnoxiously rude.  There are two sets of bleachers for a reason.  Stay on your own side.  Sitting in the opposing team's bleachers yelling "smash the tator" to your player at bat is just ridiculous.  Yes, this happened to TP yesterday.

Do not yell rude, hurtful, or insulting comments at players from the opposing team.  It just makes you look like a donkey's behind.

Be gracious when the opposing team makes a great play or gets an awesome hit.   All the players deserve praise from the spectators when they do a great job.

Never, ever coach from the stands.  When your kid is on the field or in the dug out, the coach is in charge.  Period. End of story.

Always be gracious, win or lose.  Especially when your team wins.  Class and sportsmanship are never out of style.

Do not challenge a parent from the opposing team to a parking lot fight.  It just makes you look classless.  Yes, this happened last week.  No, it was not a TP parent doing the challenging.

If you don't know much baseball terminology, just be quiet.  Or cheer generically.  You just look dumb if you yell out the wrong thing all the time.  People are laughing at you.  I will admit to doing some snickering myself yesterday.

Most important of all, never engage in any behavior that will humiliate your kid.  They need and deserve the respect of their teammates and coach.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In His Own Words

While we were waiting for A at dance class this afternoon, J pulled out some sheets of paper and handed them to me.  "You need to proofread this essay for my English class, mom," he said.  The essay is titled "The Million Dollar Dream"  and I'm going to share excerpts with you now.

Picture a four year old boy as he steps up to his tee with his little red plastic bat. As he digs into the batters box, he taps his bat on the plate three times, turns his shoulders, spits, and gets into his stance.  He pauses for a second as if he is being pitched to, then he  swings and smacks the ball off the tee.  As he runs around the house and slides into the home plate of his tee, his dream is born.


Ever since I was four years old, I have wanted to play professional baseball.  I still do and this is how I plan on doing it.


By this point in the essay, my eyes were already filled with tears because I remember oh so clearly that little four year old boy with his batting tee.

Over the summer my parents invited my travel ball coach over for dinner to discuss baseball with him while I was away at camp.  My mom asked my coach if he thought I had a shot at playing college baseball and maybe even pro.  He said absolutely, if I was willing to work very hard.  When they told me this it made me feel so good that I was speechless.  I knew it was going to take a lot of hard work and dedication.  When I told my mom I wanted to talk about it more with my coach, we had him over for dinner again.  


This would have been the point when Coach C agreed to  train and mentor J for his future in baseball.  He describes in the essay the training program Coach C has him on.  And then:

I know it sounds like a hand full to balance all of this with school, extracurricular activities, and my personal life.  Well, it is but I manage to find the time for all of it because this is how I am going to achieve my dream.  There are times I want to quit but I don't because I have the support of my family, friends, and coach.  Every time I'm working out or running and I'm about to pass out from exhaustion I picture myself playing in college or even in the pros.  Maybe hitting the game winning home run or winning the the World Series.  Believe it or not after I picture this I make it through the rest of my workout.  

By this point I was having to brush the tears from my eyes.  And then I read the rest.

Even though I just started training and have a long way to go, I have accomplished so much already.  I see the results every time I step foot on a baseball field.  When I make my dream come true the people I have to thank are my parents and grandparents for putting out all of the money I need.  My coach, Coach C,  for all the time and effort he has put into training me.  Most of all, I have to thank my grandpa, because without him I would have never fallen in love with the game of baseball.  Sometimes I picture him and me in his living room with my tee and bat, and him teaching me how to hit.  Even though he isn't my coach anymore, he taught me everything I know about baseball.  I'm not pro yet, but when I am, I'll have all those people to thank.  And even if it doesn't work out I can always say "At least I tried."  But I know I'm on my way to making  my million dollar dream come true.

So there it is.  J's dream summed up in his own words.  Reading this made me even prouder of him than I already am.  This is the reason I shell out money for lessons, teams, and equipment, drive hundreds of miles, spend countless hours making sure he works out, eats the right food, makes it to practices and games on time, and cheer him on from the sidelines.  My son has a dream that he's hell bent on making a reality.  And I consider myself lucky to be along for the ride.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Busy, Busy

I keep a big calendar on my desk and use it to keep track of the numerous activities the kids are involved in.  I sat down recently to fill it in for November and December.  And feel slightly dazed at the amount of penciling in I did.  We of course have the regular weekly activities, meetings, practices, and lessons.  In addition, we'll be beginning preparations for the school Christmas pageant.  The pageant really keeps me hopping because I am in charge of both the costumes and the reception that follows the pageant.  J has baseball tournaments the next two weekends.  N has a chorus concert on Veteran's Day, plus one the first Sat in December. Following that concert, hubby, J, A, and I are traveling up to UF so J can attend a one day camp being put on by the university's baseball staff.  We'll also be meeting up with Coach C so he can reevaluate J and see how he's done with his training.  A has a Christmas dance recital the weekend after that, plus both the dance studio and the school have floats in the town Christmas parade.  The pageant will take place during the week following the parade.  Then the kids all have three weeks out for a winter break.  I can't wait.  There are some long neglected projects around the house I need to get to.  Plus it will be nice to have a few weeks off from everything.  School, baseball, activities, etc.  If time keeps moving as fast as it has these past several months, it will be break time before I know it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Smores

Yesterday was a sad day in our household.  N's much loved guinea pig Smores passed away.  N got Smores for Christmas back in 2009 and from the start, Smores was a welcome addition to our family.  He had a funny, peppy personality, and we all enjoyed him.  He'd always been very healthy, but on Wednesday evening, No noticed his food dish was still entirely full.  Since Smores liked to eat, this was very unusual.  A quick inspection revealed a swollen area on Smores' jaw.  Knowing that guinea pigs' health can be delicate, I loaded up N and Smores and we visited the emergency vet.  Smores had an abscess that needed to be lanced and drained.  Everything went well at the vet, and we were sent home with antibiotics and instructions on how to care for Smores while he recovered.  Things seemed to be going well.  I was syringe feeding him pellet mash and baby food carrots since he wasn't up to eating on his own yet.   I was also making sure to give him water the same way.  His wound appeared to be healing nicely.  Unfortunately, when we came home yesterday afternoon, Smores had passed away.  I feel terrible.  Perhaps there was more I could have done.  N is pretty devastated.  He's going to miss Smores like crazy.  We all will.  I have to admit I already miss him squealing at me whenever I enter N's bedroom.  His cage is still there, per N's request.  He's not ready to pack it away just yet.  So rest peacefully our sweet Smores.  You were a treasured member of the family and will be forever missed.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Swim Districts and the USSSA Fall State Championship

Yesterday J swam in his first district swim meet and did very well.  He swam the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:18.36, placing 19th out of 37 swimmers.  He didn't make it into the finals.  Only the top 16 finishers moved on, but he was really pleased with how he did.  The district meet concludes his sophomore swim season, since he won;t be moving onto the regional competition.

In baseball news, TP had their first tournament of the fall.  They played in the USSSA Fall State championship.  The tournament began yesterday, but J missed it due to being at the district swim meet.  TP played three games and unfortunately, did not do well.  They lost all three games, mostly due to errors from what I was told by the other parents.  Coach T was not too happy with them and told them they needed to show up today ready to play baseball.  And they did.   Their first game today was a great one.  They had solid defense, and their bats were going pretty good.  They played hard and squeaked by the other team to win the game, 3-2.  J played first base and did excellent.  He made a great diving catch of a foul ball about halfway through the game.  But the best moment came at the end of the game.  It was bottom of the seventh and final inning.  TP was up by one run.  The other team was up to bat, with two outs, and two runners on base.  The batter hit a hard  line drive which would have resulted in the other team winning the game.  J made a picture perfect leap and caught the ball, making the final out of the game.  It was so fantastic that we called Coach C to share the news.  The second game began about twenty minutes after the first one ended.  TP again played hard, with good defense and solid bats.  Unfortunately, the other team managed to squeeze by them and win, 3-2.  Kind of weird about the scores, isn't it?  J caught in the second game and again did very well.  He made some beautiful throws to second base, and got two base hits.  All in all, the day was a success, both for TP and for J personally.  

J is taking the winter off from swimming and concentrating solely on baseball and his training.  Per Coach C's instructions, he'll be going a bit harder on his workouts and increasing the amount of weight he's using.  He'll also be adding in running on Saturdays now that he isn't swimming. Week eleven begins tomorrow and so far he's doing great!  The results are becoming obvious, as his performance in today's games shows.   Try outs for the school team are in mid January.  If J keeps up at the rate he's going, he's going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Swimming Wrap Up

This is J's second season swimming for his high school and he's done very well. He hit times for the 50 freestyle and the 200 freestyle that qualified him for varsity status.  He improved his times in every event he swam this season.   He also tackled his first ever 500 freestyle, finishing with a time of 7:04, which was awesome for a first attempt.  At the end of the regular season, he found out he had qualified to move onto the conference meet.  He didn't make it last year as a freshman so that was a huge deal for him.  He swam the 200 freestyle in 2:18, shaving almost ten seconds off his previous best time.   He placed 23rd out of 50 swimmers and earned a spot in  the district meet, which takes place tomorrow.  He'll be swimming the 200 freestyle again.  If he places in the top 8, he'll move onto regionals, though J feels districts will be the end of the line for him. He's had a great season, accomplishing more than he did last year, and has most likely lettered in his first high school sport.  He has the option of swimming for the club team his swim coach runs over the winter but has decided to take some time off from swimming.  He wants to be able to devote all of his attention to his baseball and his training. Fall Ball is in full swing, plus spring try outs will take place in January.  He wants to be sure he's ready.  I'm glad he's decided to take the break.  I think he needs it.  He's been working so hard for the past ten weeks on swimming, baseball, and his training.  Coach C feels taking the break is the best thing for him as well  so he's rested and getting the most out of his workouts.  Swimming is a great sport, and can't be beat for the overall body conditioning.  But for J, baseball will always come first.  So it's time to set swimming aside for a few months and really amp up his efforts to take his game to the next level.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fair Memories

Yesterday our annual school fair began its four day run.  We've been prepping for it for many months.  Hubby is the fair chairman, so fair prep consumes a large part of our year.  Each year presents new challenges and concerns.  The fair is the school's largest, most profitable fundraiser, so we want it to be a success every year.  This year was especially challenging for hubby because the amusement company the school has used for many years backed out on us six weeks ago.  Luckily, he was able to make arrangements with a new company and everything has worked out.

For my kids, the fair is one of the highlights of their year.  This is our twelfth fair as a school family.  Last night as I was walking around with A and J, (N was at Cirque du Soleil with his aunt and uncle) I couldn't help but think about some of my favorite fair memories from over the years.

Hubby and I worked the fair for the first time when J was in pre-k.  We worked the duck pond for two nights running and hubby was bitten by the fair bug.  In the following years he would get more and more involved in the running of the fair, eventually taking over as chairman when J was in third grade.

N was six weeks old at that first fair.  He made the rounds strapped to my chest in a baby carrier, wearing a hat to protect his little bald head from the sun.  Tonight when we go, I'm going to let him walk around with friends by himself for the first time ever.  He'll have his cell phone and be required to check in often.  It makes me nervous and a little sad to know he's grown up enough to have a little fair freedom.

A actually made her first trip to the fair in my belly.  I'd stay on my feet until my back couldn't take it anymore and hubby would plant me in a chair to rest.  Now I have a hard time keeping up with her as she runs from ride to ride and game booth to game booth.  She's fearless and rides any ride she meets the height requirement for.  

J spends his time running around with friends, or working in the game booths.  Since he's in high school now the fair is a great place for him to meet up with former classmates.  Last night he spent time working in a game booth and will take a shift as a dunkee in the dunk booth tomorrow afternoon.  Of course, in my mind's eye I'm always picturing him as he's been in years past, going from a little boy playing the duck pond to a young man doing his part to make the fair a success.

For me, I enjoy the sense of community and family that the fair brings.  All the parents watch out for each others kids, help in the booths, and share a wonderful sense of camaraderie.  It's wonderful to see the kids having fun together, the teachers and parents working together, and families getting to spend time relaxing and having fun.   The fair is a big deal,  to our school, our church, and our community.  And it's a wonderful tradition for my kids.  They look forward to it every year.  So do hubby and I.  Despite all the work the fair entails, no matter how exhausting it is, we love it.  For us it represents a special tradition we share with our children and school community.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Then and Now

J is on week nine of his training program and going strong.  He also made it to districts for swimming.  He continues to impress me with his dedication to reaching his goals.  I admit to getting weepy at times as I watch him working so hard to achieve his dreams.  Baseball has been a part of his life for so long that I thought it would be fun to post some then and now pictures.

This is J before his very first Little league game back in 2001.

 Here he is catching for TP this past weekend.


He's six weeks old here.  

Here he is with Coach C during the FAU Showdown tournament this past June in Boca Raton.

This is him with Cousin M when they were 2 and 3 years old.

At TP's game this past weekend.




Monday, October 10, 2011

Long Distance Training

Today J begins week eight of his training program.  He's doing great and I spend a lot of time bragging on him.  The other day I was telling someone about his program and she had a question.  How does Coach C coach and train J when he is three hours away at college?  Easier than you might think.  Before returning to school, Coach C gave J written instructions for all of the workouts he's doing.  Those sheets are kept in a folder, along with the workout log I made to track his progress.  His eating program fills a three ring binder and is kept with the workout folder.  Coach C took the time to explain everything to us and demonstrate the exercises he wanted J doing.  Obviously, he can't monitor the workouts from school, so that's where hubby and I come in.  I prep and prepare all of J's food, making sure he is eating the right foods.  I also monitor the amount he's eating.  Hubby takes him to the gym or monitors his workouts at home.  On days he runs or works out at home I sometimes monitor if hubby is at work. J will tell you that I am much harder on him than hubby is.  Hubby will only push so far if J is being lazy or stubborn.  I show no mercy.  I like to remind him that Coach C would show no mercy either.   Once a week I send Coach C a detailed report of how everything is going via email.  I include J's current weight and measurements, how the workouts went, how the eating went, etc.  Coach C then lets us know whether or not to change something up, answers any questions we might have, and offers J encouragement.  We can also text or call him if the need arises.  There have been times when I posted a picture on facebook of J at a game and Coach C will look at it and offer advice on something J could do to improve.  Even long distance, he's a terrific coach.   His support and encouragement mean the world to J and to hubby and I, too.   A few weeks back Coach C texted me to say he was home for the weekend and would be at TP's scrimmage game.  Unfortunately, J had a big swim meet that day and we missed the game.  Hopefully we'll manage to get together with Coach C sometime soon so he can see for himself the progress J has made.  Until then, we'll continue to rely on email, texts, and phone calls to  communicate and keep J on the right track.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rainy Weekend

TP was supposed to play in their first fall tournament this weekend.  Mother nature had other ideas.  Torrential rain covered a good portion of the state all day yesterday and last night.  Today the rain is coming in short bursts, and everything is a soggy mess.  So instead of cheering on TP, we've spent the weekend inside.  We got the house cleaned and the laundry done.  J and N got their rooms cleaned up.  This morning we went to church and now I'm baking cookies.  A lot of cookies.  I'm bored and it just seemed like the thing to do.  I've got chocolate chip in the oven, dough for peanut butter chilling in the fridge, and oatmeal raisin waiting in the wings.  I'm estimating having at least 12 dozen cookies when I'm finished.  My freezer will be well stocked with about half of those.  The rest I'm boxing up to send to Coach C at college.  It's my way of thanking him for all he's doing for J.  He has roommates to share with, and they can certainly afford to eat more cookies than I can!  The kids are spending the remainder of the rainy weekend working on a school project(N), playing video games(J), and drawing(A).  It's been a very different weekend than the one we originally had planned, but the slower pace has been nice.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fall Update

Hard to believe we're halfway through the first week of October already.  Seems like it was just the first week of August and school was getting ready to start.  But here we are, two busy months later.  Still just as busy, but finally enjoying some cooler weather.  The kids have had a lot going on, so I figured I'd do a quick update on what we've been up to.

J is almost finished with his high school swim season.  He's waiting to find out if he qualifies for conference.  He should know by tomorrow, so fingers crossed for him please!  He's on week seven of his training program and doing great.  The results are really starting to show, both in his body and his game.  TP has their first fall tournament this coming weekend, so look for a recap early next week.

N has had two concerts with the children's chorus and both were fantastic.  He's been busy with student council, cub scouts, and gymnastics as well.  Today he's going on a hike with his scout den, so he packed a backpack of supplies last night.  The hike is only an hour or so at a local nature preserve, but I guess he wants to be prepared for anything!

A is doing well in her dance class and really enjoying baton team.  She'll be attending baton twice a week now.  Once for her team practice and once for class to practice her twirling skills.  She's enjoying being in Girl Scouts, too.  She's just begun the Book It program at school.  Her reading requirement is ten books a month so she wants to sit and read all the time.

I've been keeping myself busy with school volunteering, plus my girl scout troop.  It's going well.  I have a wonderful group of eight little girls.  We also have the big school fair coming up two weeks from tomorrow.   Hubby is the chairman, so he's super busy making sure everything gets done in time.  All in all, it's a typical month for us!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Weekend Fabulous

My get away weekend to Jekyll Island was everything I hoped it would be and more.  My five friends and I had an amazing time.  For starters, the weather could not have been more perfect.  Breezy and cool with lots of sunshine.  We stayed in a cute little condo right near the beach.   It was a low key weekend, filled with lots of talking and laughter. We all arrived by early Friday evening and immediately headed out for a yummy seafood dinner.  Afterward, we just went back to the condo and sat up talking til almost midnight.  Saturday we went shopping and out to lunch.  Then back to the condo for the afternoon.  Some napped, some sat around talking, reading, or crocheting.  We also walked the beach, looking for shells.  Saturday night we got a little dressed up and went out to dinner.  Then it is was back to the condo so Jess, who is a hard core Alabama football fan, could watch the Florida/Alabama game.   She's 7 months pregnant, and wigged us out when  she started jumping and down after an exciting play.  We didn't want her bouncing the baby loose!  It was all good though, especially when Alabama won.  I'm whispering that since J and hubby are big Gator fans! Sunday and departure time came all too soon.  The thing that is the most amazing to me is how comfortable we all are with each other.   Remember, we met online, and for some, it was the first in person meeting.  Yet there was no awkwardness.  Just a wonderful sense of friendship.  We've decided this get away should be an annual thing.  In fact, we've already picked next year's destination, New Orleans.  We're inviting the husbands along for that one. If they want to go.  If they don't, we'll go without them and have a ball, I'm sure.  Thanks for a fabulous weekend Jess, Caroline, Angie, Erin, and Ann! And Linda, Steph, Zarina, Heather, and Mary, mark your calendars for this time year!   New Orleans here we come!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Girl Time

This weekend I'm doing something I've never done in 19 years of marriage and 15 years of motherhood.  I'm leaving my husband and kids behind and going away for the weekend with friends.  No husbands, no kids.  Just six women enjoying a girls get away weekend.  These six women are all very dear friends to me.  They're all part of my online circle of friends that I  wrote about here: http://homerunmama.blogspot.com/2011/01/circle-of-friends.html.  This will be the first time I've had the pleasure of meeting two of them in person.  We're going to Jekyll Island, Georgia. Our plans include a lot of sitting on the beach or around the pool, talking and relaxing.  I'm sure we'll do a little exploring, shopping, and restaurant hopping as well.  But the main purpose of this trip is to just kick back, relax, and enjoy each other's company.  We leave Friday morning and I can hardly wait.   That's not to say I won't miss my family.  I will.  But I'm looking forward to some me time with a group of fantastic women whose friendship I treasure.  Two more days girls!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Sassy Princess

Since my last several posts have been about J and N, I figured it was time for a post all about my sassy girl A.  Life with A is never dull.  She keeps me on my toes, alternating between making me want to tear my hair out and making me laugh until I cry.  She's adjusted to kindergarten very well.  She loves learning and her teacher recently told me she wishes she had a classroom full just like her.  Apparently, A keeps her devil horns hidden at school.  That's good to know.  At home she is full of sass, spirit, and mischief.  From the time she wakes up to the time she goes to sleep, she's on the go.  She loves being right in the middle of whatever her brothers are doing, especially J.  We're constantly laughing over some wacky thing she's said or done, and she delights in being as outrageous as possible in order to make us laugh.  There are days that I am both exhausted and exasperated by the time she goes to bed.  Yet I wouldn't change anything about her.  After having two boys I wished hard for a little girl.  I got my wish and then some with A.  She's headstrong, stubborn, and independent to a fault.  She is often times two hands full of trouble.  She is also sweet, and loving, with a heart of pure gold.  She may not be your typical quiet, ladylike princess, but she's our sassy princess and we wouldn't have her any other way. The two pictures below will give you a good idea of the many facets of A's personality.  


Monday, September 19, 2011

The Road To His Dream

J has completed four weeks of the training program that Coach C set up for him.  It has been four weeks of intense, hard work, both physically and mentally.  Five days a week he is swimming, working out, or running.  He is playing baseball for two teams and keeping up with his school work.  He's also following an eating program that requires him to eat a lot of food.  None of it is easy.  There are days when J is mentally and physically exhausted.  Days where just getting out of bed to start the whole routine over seems overwhelming. Days where the thought of eating one more bite of food makes him  want to throw up.  Yet one thing that has never wavered is J's commitment to following the program.  When  he complains about being tired or balks at eating all of his food I ask him if he's ready to throw in the towel. The answer is always, without hesitation, no.  You see, this is the road to J's dream of baseball.  It's a long road; J is only at the beginning of the journey.  It's a journey J is determined to complete.  He's realizing that there are many sacrifices he'll have to make along the way.  There isn't as much time as there used to be to hang out with friends, go to parties, or play video games.  Even weekends are often times filled with baseball games or practices.   J's life revolves around baseball, more so now than ever before.  He's determined to succeed and if that means giving up other stuff, he's willing to do it.  We're all very proud of his hard work and dedication.  I told him recently that someday, when he's reached his ultimate goal of playing big league baseball (we like to say when, not if) he's going to look back on this time of intense training and know it made him stronger.  All of the hard work, sweat, sacrifices, and tears will have been worth it.  The success will mean more because he'll know he earned it through hard work and dedication to his dreams.  He just grinned at me and went to do that day's workout.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Day of Mixed Emotions

The post I write today is at the same time one of the most difficult and one of the most joyous I'll write all year.  The most difficult because it is the ten year anniversary of the terrorist attacks that forever changed America.  One of the most joyous because it's N's eleventh birthday.  For N, his birthday is a day of many emotions, happiness, sadness, confusion, and even a little guilt for celebrating what will always be remembered as one of the most tragic days in American history.   N was a year old on the day of the attacks and will never know a birthday without the shadow of 9/11 looming over it.  It's something he never forgets and that weighs heavy on his young mind.  Every year we say a special prayer for the victims, and talk about about how N's feeling.  This year especially he wanted to do something to honor all those lost that day.  A few nights ago he came to me with a piece of paper and told me this was how he wanted his birthday cake decorated.  The paper had a picture of the flag with the words, pentagon, twin towers, and sacred field under it.  He had also written "All those lost will be remembered on a special birthday."  So today my mom and I are working to make a special cake that will be N's tribute to the victims of 9/11.  

For us today will always be a day of many emotions.  We never forget the events of 9/11 and we pray for the victims.  We also celebrate N's birthday with gusto.  For the past eleven years he has filled our lives with happiness, laughter, and love.  Happy birthday N!  It's been an amazing eleven years!      

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fall Season Opener

Today J had his first fall Little League game.  I could say that Team Gray came out with bats blazing and blew the opposing team out of the water but I'd be lying.  And not just a little white lie, but a whopper of huge proportions.  This game was dismal.  Team Gray suffered a 10-2 loss primarily due to errors.  I won't go into specifics but suffice it to say we had no defense, no pitching, and only two players were hitting.  One of those players was J.  He is the oldest player on this mixed junior/senior level team.  I'm going to go ahead and say flat out he's also the best player on the team.  I don't usually make statements like that because I believe that being humble is a good trait.  But in this case, it must be said. For boys who have supposedly played ball for many years, this team really needs to pull it together and act like they give a damn about playing the game.  Laid back, easy going J was ready to knock heads together by the end of the game.  He tried to pump up the team and get them fired up.  It didn't work.  They didn't even seem to care that they got their butts handed to them.  All but J were just happy the game was over because it was hot out.  At this point, I don't know how much he is really going to get out of this fall team but he wants to stick it out.  Thank goodness he has TP, where he will actually get to play some real baseball and improve his game. We sure were  missing Coach C this morning!       

Friday, September 2, 2011

TP Update

I know I said previously that TP was going to have a fall season.  Then they weren't.  Well, I'm happy to report that they are in fact, going to have a fall season.  Hurray!  Here's the details.  Coach C is back at college and has an extremely full schedule this semester.  So he wasn't going to be able to do the fall season.  But then he called me last week to report that there might be a fall team after all for the 16 year olds.  As of yesterday, it's official.  There will be a 16 year old fall team.  Now, Coach C is unable to serve as head coach this season.  Coach T, the hitting instructor from TP, will fulfill the role of head coach.  But Coach C intends to be at as many weekend tournaments as his schedule will allow.  I was glad to hear that because TP just wouldn't be the same without Coach C.   This turn of events means new challenges for our already over packed schedule.  But there is no way J is passing on the opportunity to play for TP again.  We'll figure it out and make it work just like we always do!  Go TP! 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Drive to Succeed

Last week J began the training program Coach C put together for him.  He knew going in that it was going to be tough to stick to the program, keep up with schoolwork, and give his all to both the swim team and his current Little League team.  I have to say that the dedication he's shown to making it all work has pleasantly surprised me.  His days are long, and chock full of activity.  His days begin at 6:00 and he usually is able to go to bed by 10:00.  The hours in between are filled with school, daily swim practice, weight lifting, running, baseball practice, and hitting lessons.  He recently hit the times needed to be classified as a varsity swimmer.  And he's doing well in his classes, though honors chemistry is giving him a bit of trouble at the moment.  J is handling it all well, with little complaint.  Sure, he moans and groans a bit, but for the most part he just plugs along, checking off the days requirements one  by one.  Even when he does complain and drag his feet about doing a workout or homework, it only takes a little prodding to get him going again.  J knows this is just the first step on the long road to college baseball.  It's a road he's more than  willing to travel and we couldn't be more proud of him.   

I'd also like to say how proud I am of N and A as well.  J's baseball tends to consume our lives.  We spend countless hours at practices, lessons, and games.  Throw in J's new training program and the entire families days are planned around fitting it all in. My hard and fast rule is that J's baseball not prevent his siblings from pursuing their own activities and interests.  They both have classes, scout troops, and lessons of their own.  But their lives still revolve around J's baseball much of the time.  And they, for the most part, handle being baseball siblings very well.   They have spent much of their young lives at baseball fields, cheering on their big brother.  I hope J realizes how lucky he is to have their love and support, and how proud he should be to have them cheering him on as he pursues his dream.    

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Congratulations N

As I've mentioned before, N is very much a middle child, who strives to be as different from J as he can.  He pursues different activities and interests, and his personality is uniquely his.  N loves to sing.  He's been in the school choir for the past two years.  This year he moved up from the Angel Chorus to the Concert Choir.  Thursday he brought home the information on a local children's chorus that was holding auditions today.  He asked if he could try out and of course we said yes.  He chose The Star Spangled Banner as his audition piece and spent every spare moment practicing.  His audition was this afternoon and I'm pleased to announce he was selected!  He'll begin rehearsing with the Brevard Children's Chorus this Thursday.  You can read more about the program here: http://www.brevardchildrenschorus.org/.  N is super excited and is looking forward to his first performance next month.  Way to go N!     

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Baseball Update

There have been a few changes to J's fall baseball plans, so I figured I'd update.  Sadly,  Coach C is not going to be able to do a fall session with TP due to his college schedule.  He's assured me he plans to be back next summer though, and I am holding him to that promise!  We also found out that J's high school will not be having a fall team due to having no coaches at the moment.  So he's playing fall ball with a local Little League.  To say this team is different from TP may well be the understatement of the year.   It is a mixed junior/senior level team, which means ages from 13-16.  J is not only the oldest player on the team, he's also the biggest.  Our biggest concern is that he keep playing to the best of his abilities and not get lazy with the slower pace of this league compared to tournament ball.  On the other hand, it is an opportunity for him to step into a leadership role, which he did at tonight's practice by helping some of the younger players when they struggled with things. 

In the meantime, Coach C has set up an extensive training program for J to help him bulk up, get stronger, and improve his game.  Starting Monday, he'll be following a pretty intense eating program designed to help him gain lean muscle.  Three days a week he'll be doing a lifting program.  Two days a week he'll be doing a core program. He'll be doing a running program two days a week as well.  He is also currently in the swim season for his high school team, and swims five days a week.  Most importantly, he is working hard in his school classes, maintaining a fairly high GPA.  I'll be sending Coach C weekly progress reports and he'll tweak the program as needed as J goes along. It's going to be a brutal schedule that is going to require a lot of pre-planning to make it work.     

Why is he doing all of this you might wonder?  As I've mentioned before, baseball is J's dream and this is just part of the hard work that he will have to endure to make that dream a reality.  For him, the pay off at the end will be worth every minute of hard work that he puts in.   

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Once a Girl Scout

I was a Girl Scout for many years.  They were fun years, with lots of good memories.  So when A decided she wanted to join Girl Scouts and asked if I would sign up to be the troop leader, I readily agreed.  She'll be starting out as a Daisy, which is the very first level of scouting for girls in kindergarten and first grade.   I went to my first leader's meeting last night and to say I'm overwhelmed is putting it mildly!  There is quite a bit involved in running a troop it seems.  It's a lot more than just doing activities at a weekly meeting.  I'll eventually get it all figured out but in the meantime I'm a little nervous.  I want to be a good leader and do a good job with my little troop of Daisies.  Today's task is learning how to get girls signed up for the troop.  I'm meeting with the council registrar this afternoon so she can explain how to get handle the troop registration, membership dues, etc.  I figure I'll take it one step at a time until I get it all figured out.  Wish me luck!       

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lonely Days

This past Monday, A started full day kindergarten.  This is an exciting and important milestone in her young life.   And in mine.  For the first time in 15 years, I don't have a kid home with me at least part of the day.  When J started school, N was a baby.  Likewise, when N started school, A was a baby.  But now my last chick has left the nest and is gone all day, leaving me with some very mixed emotions.  I've been a stay at home mom for 11 years today, since exactly one month before N was born.  And prior to that, I worked part time at a daycare center and J went to work with me.   So this week, I've been feeling a little lost being on my own so much during the day.  I know I'll settle into a new routine soon, but it's going to take me a little while to figure out exactly what that new routine will entail.  A few people have asked me if I'll get a job now that A is in school all day.  I don't plan to.  I'm happy and comfortable being a stay at home mom, and my afternoons and evenings will still be overflowing with mom duties.  I plan to continue my volunteer duties at the school, get to some long put off projects around the house, and maybe make a little time to do things I enjoy. 

And how is A doing with the adjustment to kindergarten?  She's loving it.  She's excited about being at school all day and getting to go to PE, music, and Spanish.  She's worn out when I pick her up, which makes the afternoons a bit of a challenge since she's a bit cranky.  On the plus side, she's going to bed easily at night.  And she goes off to school each day with a smile, which is really the best thing a mom could ask for.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Year Ahead

Here we are, on the eve of the 2011/2012 school year.  For N and A anyway.  J has til Wednesday before he starts classes.  All the supplies are bought and packed in the appropriate backpacks.  Uniforms are washed and ready.  And as usual at the start of a new school year, I'm reflecting on what the year holds for my three babies.

J will be a sophomore in high school.  He has a challenging course load this year, and is really starting to think about college.  On the athletic front, he will again be swimming for the school team.  His coach fully expects he will hit his varsity times and letter this year.  And of course, he'll be playing baseball.  If the school has a fall team, he'll definitely play.  He'll also be doing the fall tournament season with TP.  Coach C is in the process of mapping out a running, lifting, core conditioning, and eating program for him.  That's all part of the three year plan to get him ready for college baseball.  He's going to be a busy kid.  I also want to make sure he has time to just enjoy being a kid. 

N will be a fifth grader this year.  School will present new challenges as he changes classes for the first time, and deals with an increase in homework.  He's a good student, so I don't foresee any problems there.  He'll be continuing with boys gymnastics and Cub Scouts, both of which he loves.  This will be his final year as a Cub Scout.  He'll cross over to Boy Scouts in the spring.  He also plans to join the school choir and continue to participate in student council as a peer mediator.  His 11th birthday is coming up in just a little over a month and he's trying to decide how he wants to celebrate.

A starts kindergarten this year.  My last baby is leaving the nest and going to school all day.  She's excited and a little nervous.  She wants to join the junior baton team and continue with her dance class.  She also wants to be a Girl Scout and has talked me into being the leader for her Daisy troop.  I'm a little nervous that all of that will be too much for her.  But we'll try it and see how it goes.  We can always make changes later if need be. 

As for me, I'll continue my duties as head homeroom mom at the school.  I've also taken on team mom duty for TP, and I'll be figuring out this Girl Scout troop leader thing.  And of course, the usual shuttling of kids, managing everyone's schedules, and making sure our lives run relatively smooth.  My plate will be full, but I like it that way.  I love being a part of what the kids are doing and sharing the journey with them.  I do have a little time for myself planned at the end of September.  I'm going away for a girls weekend with a group of friends. 

What does the school year hold for you and your family?          

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Blog Background and the Origin of this Blog's Name

It occurred to me that the title of this blog demanded a more appropriate design, so I started messing around with different options.  And found this one.  I think it fits the title of the blog well.  I hope you like it!
I also decided it was time to share how the title of this blog came about.  When J was in 5th or 6th grade(I can't remember for certain), he brought home an art project wrapped in newspaper.  "I made this for you mom," he said as he handed it to me. I tore off the newspaper to find a little ceramic plate decorated with a hand drawn picture of a flaming baseball.  Above the baseball are the words home run mom.  I admit I cried when I saw it.  The fact that he tied his love for baseball to me just melted my heart.  That little plate still hangs on my living room wall.  Every time I look at it I remind myself to always strive to be the best mom I can.  I may not always hit a home run, but I try.  And my little team of three loves me even on the days I strike out.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer Highlights

Even though summer officially doesn't end for several more weeks, our summer vacation is sadly, drawing to a close.  So I figured I'd share some of the highlights of our jam packed summer days. 

TP:  Without a doubt, TP ranks right up there as one of the best highlights of our summer.  Our first experience with travel ball couldn't have been any better.  J grew so much as a player, made great new friends, and had fun, too.  We enjoyed making friends with all of the parents while we spent so much time cheering on the boys.  TP is truly a family and we're looking forward to the fall season.

Coach C:  We've known a lot of coaches in J's years playing baseball.  Some great, like my dad, and some not so great.  Coach C definitely falls into the great category.  He may be young, (he turns 19 tomorrow!) but he has a true gift for coaching.  I think one of the TP dads said it best when he said that Coach C coaches well beyond his years.  J is so lucky to have such a great friend, mentor, and coach.

A's Crush:  There's nothing quite like a girl's first crush, and A's crush on Coach C is a doozy.  We've laughed ourselves silly over her shameless and innocent pursuit of him.  It became even funnier once hubby spilled the beans to Coach C, who was pretty surprised to find himself the object of her affections!  He's been a terrific sport about the whole thing, being sweet as can be to A and tolerating all of hubby's jokes about being our son in law with good humor.  A's going to miss him when he goes back to college in a few weeks.

TP's Championship:  TP had a terrific summer season, but nothing beats the Apopka tournament where they swept the whole thing and took home the trophy. 

Family:  Aunt S and Cousins M and B's visit was another great highlight of the summer.  The kids always enjoy being with their cousins and this was no exception. 

As we get ready to head back to school and a daily routine that doesn't revolve solely around baseball I'm going to miss this summer.  My kids are growing up fast, making these carefree summer when we're all together all the more precious.

    

Saturday, July 30, 2011

UF Camp and Looking Towards the Future

J attended University of Florida baseball camp during the first part of the week.  I blogged about my thoughts and feelings on the day I dropped him off.  Now I'll share something about his camp experiences. He said the camp was very intense and they did a lot of hard work.  It was pretty much baseball from morning til night, including speed and agility, field work, position specific work, hitting and games.  The camp was run by the head coach of UF baseball, who in the words of Coach C is a baseball genius.  Assisting him were the UF assistant coaches, along with coaches from several other colleges and some current UF players.  J felt like he learned some valuable skills at camp to improve his game, had fun, and made some new friends along the way.  Being on the UF campus playing baseball also reinforced in him the dream of college baseball.  Which brings me to the second part of this post.

J has three years til college.  That's it.  Three short years before my baby leaves home for college and the pursuit of his greatest dream.  As a mother, my role is to support that dream, however out of reach it may seem at times.  I never want him to look back one day and regret not going for his dreams.  Even if all of his dreams don't come true, I want him to always have the certainty that he did everything possible to make them a reality.  That being said, I want to be able to provide him with all the tools he needs to help him achieve his dreams.  I've spoken all summer of what a terrific coach Coach C is.  Not only has J learned a lot from him, he looks up to him as a friend and role model.  The two of them clicked right from the start.  Coach C says he sees a lot of himself in J.  All of this led hubby and I to the realization that perhaps Coach C was the perfect person to mentor J along the road to college baseball.  We decided to ask him how he felt about doing something like that and happily, he said he was both honored and flattered that we had such faith in him.  I also asked him flat out if he truly thought J has a shot at college baseball.  The answer was yes, without hesitation.  J has a lot of hard work to do to get there, but Coach C definitely sees college baseball in his future.  He's working out a pretty rigorous training program for J, along with helping him with a list of possible colleges, coordinating future trips to showcases to get him scouted, and most of all continuing to be the friend and role model J has come to know and admire this summer.  Hubby and I offered to pay him for his time but he refused, saying that he was truly happy to be able to mentor J through this exciting time in his life.   We consider ourselves very fortunate to have such an upstanding young man to mentor and guide our son.  Hopefully, in the next few years, I'll be able to report that the team of J and Coach C have achieved the pinnacle of baseball success, both as player and coach.  Along the way, hubby and I will continue to offer unconditional support as J reaches for his dreams.         

USSSA World Series

TP competed in their final tournament of the summer this week, the USSSA World Series.  They had hoped to finish off their summer season with a big win, but it was not to be.  They lost their first playoff game this morning, ending their run for the championship. 

The tournament began on Tuesday.  J missed Tuesday and Wednesday due to being away at camp at UF.  But Coach C kept hubby and I in the loop, so we knew TP won their first game, 3-2, and lost their second game, 3-2.  Thursday we headed over for the third game, which ended in a 6-6 tie.  Friday morning they played hard and won that game, 5-2.  They were in 10th place in their pool of thirty teams going into today's single elimination rounds.  Today's game started off with a bang and they had 3-0 lead for the first half of the game.  Unfortunately, the opposing team was playing as hard as TP and managed to tie it up by the 4th inning.  A well placed hit in the bottom of the 6th gave the other team a three run lead.  As the visiting team, TP failed to score any runs in their last at bat and they lost 6-3.

It has been a great summer season.  This team has the best 16U record in Top Prospects history.  Coach C has been a phenomenal coach and the boys have learned so much this summer.  He told them today how proud he is of them and that he's looking forward to continuing to coach them this fall and next summer.  We'll have about an eight week break til our first fall tournament.  The fall season will be a bit different since Coach C will be away at college.  He's planning on doing five weekend tournaments between September and November.  he'll either come home if the tournaments are local or meet us at whatever part of the state we're traveling to.  I'll of course be posting about our experiences this fall.  I'm sure it will be just as much fun as this summer has been.  In the meantime, here's a team pic taken after today's game.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

One More Step Down the Path

Today my mom and I drove J to the University of Florida for a four day baseball camp.  And I'm having a major mommy moment over it.  Now, to some it might seem like going to a camp is just another summer activity.  And maybe for some boys it is.  But for J, it goes a bit deeper than that.  UF is currently his top college pick. He wants to play baseball at UF.  He wants to play baseball for the New York Yankees.  In short, he wants to live every boys MLB fantasy.  And today he took another step towards achieving his dreams.  When we got to the stadium and checked him in, it was like a light switch had been flipped inside him.  He couldn't wait to take the field.  As we dealt with all the practicalities of getting his key, getting him settled in his dorm room, eating lunch, he just kept wanting to get back to the field.  When it was finally time he listened with rapt attention to the orientation given by the coaches.  Every so often he'd shoot a glance at me and nod as if to say, "See mom, I know I can do this.  This is where I'm meant to be."  As I watched, it hit me that in three short years, J's dream of college baseball may very well become a reality.  He believes it can happen, Coach C believes it can happen, and oh yeah.  I believe it can happen.  Something happens to J when he steps onto a baseball field.  He walks a little taller, carries himself with just a tad more confidence, and his face radiates pure happiness.  Baseball is his heart, and there are few with a bigger heart than my J.  So, I've been a little misty eyed today, picturing my tiny boy who first told me he wanted to be a ball player, and envisioning my soon to be grown son who is rapidly becoming a ball player. Whether it ends up being UF or some other school, J is determined to make his dream a reality.  And today I had a glimpse of just how hard he's willing to work to make it happen.     

Saturday, July 23, 2011

TP Picnic

Today TP held a team picnic to celebrate their successful summer season and to get geared up for their final summer tourney.  I was the organizer and I think it went off rather well.  We rented a pavilion right on the river at a local park.  The weather was beautiful, but scorching hot.  We were thankful for the river breezes!   We ate, played games, and enjoyed the company.  One of the most enjoyable aspects of being part of TP is the friendship of the players, parents, and coaches.  It truly feels like a family.  I really hope every player is able to participate in the fall season.    

No TP get together would be complete without a game of wiffle ball, and it didn't take long for Coach C to get everyone playing.  You have to understand that wiffle ball is serious business in TP land, taken very seriously by Coach C and the boys.  Coach K's team snuck by Coach C's team for the win. Following lunch, a parent/player water balloon toss took place.  As you can imagine, it turned into a free for all, with  Coach C and Coach K as the most common targets.  After dessert, a touch football game rounded out the day's activities.  I've included a few pics below.

A playing catch with Coach C.

 J fishing a wiffle ball out of the river.

 Team huddle.

 The other team's huddle.

 A taking her turn at bat while N, J, & Coach C look on.
 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nearing the end of Summer

My kids go back to school in just a little over two weeks.  Insanely early in my opinion.  Whatever happened to a three month summer break?  For the second year in a row, I'm not ready to let go of summer.  Last year we'd been to Hawaii and I was in such a mellow mood, summer could have gone on forever.  This year, we've enjoyed TP so much that I'm sorry to see the summer end.  Here's how we're wrapping up our final days of summer.

The TP team picnic is this Saturday.  I've sort of become the team mom and have been in charge of organizing the picnic.  We've reserved a big pavilion at the park and plan to grill hamburgers and hot dogs.  Everyone is bringing a picnic dish to share.  And between my mom and Coach C's mom, we have some seriously sinful desserts coming.  Coach C is, of course, planning a wiffle ball game and J had me buy a bucket of 600 water balloons.  It should be a good time.

J leaves for baseball camp at the University of Florida on Sunday.  He and his friend R will be rooming together for the four day camp.   My mom and I are driving them to Gainesville Sunday morning, then staying for a few hours to watch the camp.  R's parents will pick them up Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, I'm transitioning back into my head homeroom mom mode and hosting a get acquainted play date for incoming pk and k students.  The school thought this would be a nice, informal way for the kids and parents to meet before the start of school.  We're meeting at a park for playtime and light refreshments.  A will be starting k this year and she's looking forward to this.

Also next week, TP will be competing in their final tournament of the summer, the USSSA World Series in Kissimmee.  There are 60 16U teams entered in this one.  It will be interesting to see how TP stacks up against all these quality teams.  If they go in with their trademark heart and fire, my guess is they will finish quite well.  Maybe even win the whole thing.  Wouldn't that be an awesome end to their summer season?

Note above that I said summer season.  Originally TP was just going to be a summer season team.  We thought we were done at the end of July.  And I have to be honest, it made me kind of sad.  But, Coach C just told us that we'll be doing a fall season.  Hurray!  He's going to come home weekends from college to take TP to tournaments.  Between Sept and Nov we'll do 4-5 tournaments.  Now, I don't know if the entire team knows this yet.  Coach C told us when he spent the day with us going to another baseball event J was participating in.  I hope everyone is able to do the fall season.  We have such a great group of players and parents.  Coach C says he's enjoyed this team so much he'd really like to continue on.  So we'll do the fall, then take a break during the high school season til next summer. 

So that's how we'll be wrapping up our summer.  Stay tuned for posts about the TP picnic, J's adventures at UF camp, and TP's final summer tourney.   

Friday, July 15, 2011

Top Prospects

It occurred to me that all summer I've been telling you about Team TP, without ever really telling you anything about their sponsor, Top Prospects Baseball Instruction.  TP is an indoor baseball and softball instruction facility.  Team TP holds hitting practices here, as well as bull pen sessions, and indoor conditioning.  You can read about the TP facility here: http://www.topprospects.net/.  The link with team rosters is not current, it still lists Coach C as a 16U player instead of coach, but everything else is up to date.  And you can read a little about Dave Mastro, the owner, and how Top Prospects came to be.  We first discovered TP back when J was around 10 years old.  He attended several camps and lessons there.  In fact, Coach C was a junior instructor at one of the summer camps he attended.  When we were looking to get involved in travel ball it was only natural that we contact TP to see what they had to offer.  And we're so glad we did because this has been an awesome experience.  So thanks to all of the great staff at TP who have made Team TP a possibility.  You're dedication and hard work are appreciated!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Her First Big Crush

My five year old is boy crazy.  There, I said it.  I'm not sure how or when this happened, but A is boy crazy.  Maybe it comes from having two older brothers and being around their friends all the time.  For a while now, she's had J's best friend R in her sights.  R has known her since the day she was born and is like another brother to her.  But recently, my baby girl has developed her first real crush, on none other than Coach C.  This all started when he let her be in the team picture after TP won the championship in Apopka.  From then on, she's had stars in her eyes whenever he's around.  Which, since we're at baseball all the time, is a lot. This past weekend in Auburn, she followed him around as much as she was able.  He made her day Friday when he let her sit in the dug out during the game.  She pulled J's cooler right up next to Coach C's chair and chatted his ear off while he gave signs to the catcher.  Saturday she presented him with three brand new wiffle balls I had picked up for the team.  She claims she is going to marry him when she grows up.  Since he's 18, she has a lot of growing up to do!  This humiliates J in the extreme.  He lives in fear that she is going to propose to Coach C at any moment.   I admit, the whole thing makes me laugh.  A will no doubt have many crushes as she grows up.  But none will ever be as innocent and sweet as this first crush.  Check her out hanging with Coach C in the dug out. 



Saturday, July 9, 2011

Auburn Invitational

This post is a bit late in coming because I was hoping to have some positive results to report.  TP got off to a shaky start here in Auburn.  Their first game ended in a 6-2 loss, mostly due to errors.  Coach C was not happy with them and told them they needed to man up and play ball like he knew they could.  The second day they played in two games, both at the Auburn University baseball stadium.  Their first game started out poorly, but they rallied and ended up with a 4-4 tie.  Their second game was dismal, ending in a 5-2 loss when it was called early due to a thunderstorm.  They might have rallied, but we'll never know.  Following that game, Coach C was, to put it bluntly, pissed.   They were not playing with the heart and fire that has become their trademark this summer.  He called a team meeting for 10:30 in the parking lot of the hotel and told them to wear running shoes.  They discussed what was going wrong and ran sprints and suicides for about 45 minutes.  He also took the time to point out a strength of each player.  And wiped the slate clean.  Today when TP took the field, they had their fire back, and proved it with a 4-2 win.  Coach C was pleased, not just with their win, but with how they played.  It's not the losses that upset him, it's how they earn those losses.  Simply being out played is one thing.  Handing games away is another. When they play with heart and give him their all, he's proud of them, win or lose.

 We're finished here, and will head home in the morning.  a few families left tonight, along with Coach C and Coach K.  But several of us just didn't want to start an 8 hour drive this late in the day.  If we get an early start, we'll make it home by late afternoon.  Drive safely home TP families!    

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Auburn Invitational, Day One

The drive to Auburn was fairly easy.  As easy as an eight hour drive can be anyway.  Traffic was light and we made decent time, arriving around 2:30 local time.  The hotel had our room ready and we were able to check in to our very comfortable, two room suite.  I think we may have been the first TP family to arrive.  About an hour later, several other families and Coach C and his assistant, Coach K arrived.   Coach C was originally going to ride with us, but at the last minute Coach K was able to come and they rode together.  Within a few hours everyone was here and the boys got a wiffle ball game going out behind the hotel.  Coach C is big on wiffle ball and has passed that on to the players.  Even the little siblings got in on the fun.  After the wiffle ball game, the team relaxed in the hotel hot tub while the parents chatted by the pool. During this time, Coach C received a call from the tourney director informing him that this was a wood bat or BBCOR bat tournament.  Um, that would have been nice to know before we left home!  Luckily we have a couple BBCOR bats and three wooden bats among all the players.  We also found out there is  no championship round at this tournament.  It is strictly a showcase, with college scouts in attendance.  Being a 16U team, it's a chance for our boys to get their names out in front if the scouts.  And for the 18U teams here, it's an opportunity to perhaps get offered a scholarship.  We play a game tomorrow, two on Friday, and a final game on Saturday.  Coach C is a little perturbed at all the last minute information.  He's been trying to get in touch with the director for several days.  The boys are excited to be here though and are confident they can play well.  First game is at 4:30 tomorrow.  Go TP!  

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Auburn Bound

Team TP will be competing in their fifth tournament of the summer this week when we travel to Auburn, Alabama for the BEST Baseball Auburn Invitational.  The tournament runs July 6-July 10, with TP playing in their first game the afternoon of July 7.  We're heading for Auburn on July 5.  It's about an 8 hour drive from our home in Florida and we don't want to be rushing to get there.  So the next few days will be spent packing and getting things organized for the trip.  N has opted to stay home with my mom.  He'll hang out with Uncle D, who's retired, while she works.  A is going with us, as is my dad.  Coach C is riding with us as well.  We're planning on hitting the road by 8am Tuesday morning so I most likely won't post again until sometime  Wednesday.  Until then, have a great Fourth of July and stay tuned for updates on TP's progress at their biggest tournament yet!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mid Summer Update

Hard to believe that June is almost over and July is about to begin.  We've been having so much fun this summer.  This week has been no exception.  With Aunt S and cousins B and M in town, we've done a lot of family activities.  Friday we went on a dolphin watch cruise, which was really neat.  We cruised around the river fro about two and a half hours, spotting many dolphins and manatees along the way.  The weekend was of course spent cheering TP on as they won their first championship. Monday we hit the beach, where it was surprisingly breezy and cool.  This evening we're heading to the Medieval Times Dinner Show and tomorrow we're hitting Disney Quest.  We're staying over in Orlando for the night as an added treat for the kids.  My brother, D, and Aunt K, both have birthdays this weekend, so we'll be celebrating those on Saturday with another river cruise to watch some early fireworks.  Then Aunt S, B, and M fly home on Sunday.  Monday I'll spend cleaning and packing, getting ready to depart for Auburn, Alabama on Tuesday morning for TP's next tournament.  That will be a big one and I'll be sure to post updates from the road.
  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tournament Weekend Four, CFL Championship

What a weekend!  Team TP played in their fourth tournament of the summer.  In my last post, I told you about their first game of the tourney and how well they played.  I could keep you in suspense until the end of this post to tell you whether or not they won, but I'm too excited.  TP won their first tournament of the summer!  Way to go guys! 

Friday night's fire was still burning Saturday morning, and TP once again owned the field.  They won that game 7-3.  J played on first base the entire game and made a couple of outstanding plays.  Once again, their bats were on fire and their defense was rock solid.  Late Saturday night we found out they were the 1 seed going into Sunday.  We arrived for what we thought was a semi final to determine who advanced to the championship.  However, due to a couple games being rained out the day before, two teams had withdrawn from the tournament, leaving only four 16U teams.  So this game was it.  TP was playing the same team they had played on Saturday morning.  From the start the game was a nail biter.  Both teams had solid defense and the game was scoreless for three innings.  The opposing pitcher was excellent and TP was having a hard time getting their bats going.  Then in the top of the fourth, they allowed a run to score.  Not good!  By the bottom of the fifth, things were getting tense in TP's dug out.  They were down by a run and were in danger of giving up their championship.  finally, in the bottom of the sixth, we got a hit and put a runner on base.  A pop fly followed, giving TP their first out.  Coach C had the third batter sacrifice bunt and advanced the runner waiting on first.  And after that, TP lit up like the fourth of July.  With two outs, their bats came alive and they scored four runs.  In the top of the seventh, it took four batters to get three outs and end the game.  They were the champs! 

TP went undefeated the entire weekend, with a total of 26 runs scored.  This brings their record for tournament play to 11-6-1.  I've included the team picture I took following the game.  J is on the far right, with Coach C to his left.  Note how the little siblings managed to get in the picture, too.  That's A in front of J in the pink shirt.  You can click on the picture to make it larger.