Thursday, January 24, 2013

Play For Him

J recently made the varsity baseball team at his school and is poised for his junior season.  For some reason, this season has me more sentimental than usual.  Perhaps because I know J only has two school seasons and two TP summers left before he hopefully makes the next step in his baseball career, partially fulfilling a dream he's had since he was tiny.  To be a ball player.  He's worked so hard to get to this point that I think he sometimes forgets some of the memories that have accumulated over the years.  I haven't forgotten a one.  I thought it would be nice, at the start of this all important junior season, to look back at J's baseball career to this point.  To share some of my favorite moments along this journey that has both the possibility of being over in a blink or taking a whole new direction that J dreams of.

J was born with a love for baseball.  Or so it seems.  I suppose it's really more accurate to say my dad nurtured that love from the cradle.  I have fond memories of J propped in my dad's lap as a baby watching the Yankees on TV.  Of my dad taking him to his first minor league game when he was about two years old and to his first Yankee game by the time he was 5.  When he was three, my dad couldn't wait any longer to get him playing and we signed him up for a little team at the Y.  They played for an hour every Sat, a half hour of practice, followed by a half hour game.  I don't think my dad could have been prouder had we been in a major league ball park somewhere.  Not too long after that J told me for the first time, "Mommy, I'm going to be a baseball player when I grow up."

Next came the Little League years.  Those were years that had too many good times to count.  For my dad and J those years are the ones that cemented the bond they share over baseball.  Every spring brought a new team, new friends, some familiar faces, and happy times spent watching J develop as a player.  During those years, we called him our tortoise because he wasn't always the fastest, or the showiest, or the best player, but he was always the most hard working and dependable. When he was young, nothing and nobody could tarnish his love for baseball.  Those years also brought J his first taste of heartbreak when he was passed over for the All Star team more than once.  Even then, our boy kept his chin up and didn't let it get him down for long.   He just kept playing, and he kept telling me that someday he'd be a ball player, just wait and see.

After the Little League years, he moved onto high school ball.   Again, there have been triumphs as well as disappointments.  It's to be expected I suppose.  If everything in life came easily, things would have less meaning.  Last year, J wrote an essay for English class about his dreams of baseball.  I posted  about it at the time and will share it again here:  In His Own Words.  And of course, along with the high school years have come the TP years.  It was at the end of his freshman season that J tried out for Coach C and began what has been one of the best parts of his baseball journey.  A year ago, Coach C did a guest post sharing his thoughts on J's training and dreams.  You can revisit that post here: A Word from Coach C.  We all continue to be so grateful that J has Coach C, who continues to train, coach, and mentor him through this phase of his baseball career.  And I sincerely hope that at some point in the not so distant future I can ask him to do another guest post.  This time sharing his thoughts on  J's successful attempt at playing college baseball.

So here we are, on the cusp of J's junior season. And he's still telling me to wait and see. That he's going to be a ball player.   Immediately after the school season ends, the TP season will begin.  And while I'm looking forward to watching all those games, it's a little bittersweet  knowing that those games are getting numbered.  That all too soon,  it will be his senior season.  And then his final TP season.  At that point I hope that all the years of  hard work pay off and J will realize the next stage of his dream.  And that he'll know that every minute he spent on a field instead of with his friends or playing video games or going to parties will have been worth it.  And even if it doesn't work out exactly as he hopes it will, he'll know that he gave it everything he had and then some.  And that all those years, all those moments, all of the triumphs and disappointments led him to where he is.  The other day I came across the following quote and it fits J perfectly.  It's something I hope he'll keep in his mind  and in his heart when he takes the field for the first game of the season.

Somewhere behind the athlete you've become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little boy who fell in love with the game and never looked back.  Play for him.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Turning 7

Tomorrow A turns seven.  I can hardly wrap my mind around the fact that my youngest baby is seven years old, but there it is.  The past seven years have been quite the adventure.  I thought it would be fun to do a picture review of A's life.

Here's  our princess at a month old in her baptismal gown.  Is anyone surprised to know that A screamed throughout her entire baptism?

On the beach in Ocean City, NJ as a toddler.  She's always had that boundless energy and spirit.

Visiting Disney for the first time at two years old.  Note she liked to pose even back then.

Capturing ducks at the petting farm as a three year old.   I can't remember if she was screaming or laughing in this picture.

Four years old, running tame at the Little League field.  She went to the ball field for the first time when she was three days old.  Is it any wonder she's such a little baseball fan now?

This was taken in Hawaii when she was 41/2.  It captures her sassy spirit perfectly.

For her fifth birthday, she had a princess glamour party.  

At five she met Coach C and decided he was the object of her affections.  She continues to make us laugh on a constant basis with this one.  This was the first picture ever taken of the two of them and resides in a frame on her night stand.

Her brothers have adored her from day one.  Even when she aggravates them, they can never stay mad at her for long.

Her Christmas dance recital when she was six years old.  Yet another picture that clearly captures her sauciness.

Taken a week ago at her baton competition, our sassy girl just shy of seven years old. Whatever she does, she does it with sass and style.  She keeps us on our toes every minute of every day.  And every day with her is a pure joy.  To know A is to love her and I for one love her to the moon and back.  Happy birthday baby girl!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Kicking Off the Baton Season

As everyone knows, I spend a good portion of my life at baseball fields, watching J play.  I truly love every minute of it.  Well, maybe not washing loads of stinky uniforms, but even that doesn't diminish my enjoyment of watching J do what he loves the most.  However, I'm a girly girl at heart, and there are times when I just need to indulge that side of my nature.  And nothing fits the bill better than spending the day with A at baton competition, dressing her up in numerous cute costumes, fixing her hair, and watching my sassy girl strut her stuff.  This is A's second year on the baton team, an activity she thoroughly enjoys.  Yesterday was the first competition of the season, and A had a fabulous time, coming home with several trophies.  For those that don't know, baton competitions are an all day affair.  The day begins with group routines, followed by individual events in marching, modeling, and twirling.  A was in three group routines yesterday: a pom routine with ten other girls, a small group twirling routine with three other girls, and a large group twirling routine with the entire team.   She then competed individually in dress modeling, costume modeling, basic and military marching, and for the title of Strut Queen, for which she had to march and model a costume.  I'm pleased to report that the girls took first place for their pom routine, and second place for both the small and large group routines.   Our team also had other small and large group routines that all placed as well.  Individually, A took third place for dress modeling, 2nd place for costume modeling and basic marching, and 1st place for military marching.  She also took 1st place for Strut Queen in her age category, which really thrilled her.  She also loves all of the costumes, hairstyles, and accessories that go along with each routine and I have to admit, I do, too.  She wore a total of six different costumes yesterday, plus a fancy dress for dress modeling.  Each one is cute in its own unique way but I do have two personal favorites, simply because they suit A's personality so well.  The first one is her baseball dress, pictured here:

A is quite the little baseball fan, as everyone knows, and this baseball dress fits her sassy personality perfectly.  She modeled this yesterday for the costume modeling portion of Strut Queen.  She decided on a sassy modeling walk and strutted right up to the judge, cocked her hip, and blew a kiss.  Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera ready to capture it.  But let's just say the performance cemented her title as the baseball princess.

Which brings me to my absolute favorite costume.  She got this one for Christmas, so yesterday was the first time she wore it in competition.  Here it is:

Is this not the cutest thing ever?!  Not only is A a baseball fan, she's become quite the Florida Gator fan as well.  Her daddy likes to think it's because he's a lifelong Gator fan.  But we all know it really has more to do with a certain baseball coach who attends the University of Florida.  A had been saying she wanted a Gator twirling costume and this one couldn't be more perfect for her.  I ordered it from Kenerly Kreations, who make the most beautiful custom baton and figure skating costumes. You can't see it in the picture, but she has a coordinating hair accessory in her hair.  The majorette boots were also part of her Christmas gift, and I think I love those even more than I love the costume.  The entire ensemble is just so A, if you know what I mean.  She wore this for marching yesterday, though in the future it will also be for her presentation routine, which is a short solo.  In the meantime, our little Gator girl strutted her stuff in style during her marching events.  And everyone loved the boots.

Yesterday was my 40th birthday, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending it with my little girl, indulging our girly sides.  She's becoming quite the little twirler, so I expect we'll be participating in baton for many years to come.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Month of Milestones

January is going to be a big month for us.  First up, J is taking the test to get his driver's license on Thursday. Yes, he's almost 17.  I've made him wait until I felt 100% comfortable, or as close as I'm ever going to feel to 100% comfortable, before allowing him to get his license.  I can honestly say this is the scariest milestone I've faced as a parent.  The thought of him out on the road by himself scares the hell out of me.  But part of my job as a mom is to let him spread his wings.  So I'll get through it.  Somehow.

Another big milestone this month is my birthday.  I'm turning 40 in less than two weeks, which I guess is supposed to freak me out.  I can't say that it has.  Not yet anyway.  It's a bit startling to realize I'm at the tail end of another decade of living, but it's also kind of exciting to be beginning a new one.

A week and a half after my birthday, A turns 7.  This freaks me out a lot more than turning 40.  I've blinked and my youngest baby is growing up on me.  It makes me nostalgic to realize that for us, the baby days are done forever.  At the same time, how can I not be looking forward to another year filled with A's unique brand of sassiness and charm?  Whatever she has in store for me, it's sure to be entertaining!

So we're starting 2013 off with a bang.  May it be as filled with love, happiness, and blessings as 2012 was.