Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Once upon a time.....

We're back in action! yahoo!

What does that mean? Well, the team had a scrimmage on Sunday afternoon and the Big kid was ready...mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually....He was anticipating an outcome of dominating his team mates...taking no prisoners...no one on base...swing and a miss...."You're outta there, batta!"....Is that the way that it happened? Sure, in a fairy tale....

The real story is as follows:

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who had one wish...that wish was to pitch in the World Series and play in the major leagues...that's it...nothing that a genie in a bottle and some hard work wouldn't accomplish....

The little boy would focus solely on his dream to the detriment of his school work and chores around the home. He had one goal...it was not to clean out his closet....but sign a multi year deal with the Yankees.

And so, the little boy grew to be an adolescent. People and team mates would scoff at him and laugh at his dream. But he was undeterred and continued to battle on and on and on....even after giving up 9 runs in one inning...he still saw the pen that he would sign his contract with as he entered into the majors.

Years passed and that boy earned a place on a division 1 baseball team. People continued to scoff at him including his own team mates...but again, he would not allow them to derail his goals....He would show them.

Freshman year came and went and the boy threw against mighty competition. Strike after strike after strike....he threw and threw and gained the respect of his team. he was proud of his freshman year but continued to focus solely on his ultimate goal.

Now, sophomore year begins with the team playing an indoor scrimmage. Our hero, ready to pursue the ultimate is called into the game. He stretches, runs in place, takes a deep breath, touches his toes...and it is "GO Time!"

He looks at the catcher's signals....the spot for the throw has been created....he nods his head...takes a deep, cleansing breath....and throws the ball.....

"Ball 1.....ball 2...ball 3...ball 4...batter, take your base....."

"Ball 1... ball 2...ball 3....ball 4...batter....take your base..."

And so it went, the 2012 season began with four walks, one strike out, a few hits, and one earned run in three innings of pitching.

Is it time to quit the dream and buy a suit and tie? Naw! Not yet, our hero will continue to work on his slider and show all the naysayers that he has what it takes....

The story does not end here...it is only beginning...the season is long and has more twists and turns than a mountainous road. Hang in there with the BP family as we again live the highs and lows of this story. It's not a fairy tale, but real life and sometimes real life is much more interesting than a fabricated story about a boy with a dream who achieves it by wishing on a star...nope..wishing is part of it. The rest is a great deal of sacrifice and hard work.

No one knows what the future holds, but I will have the rosary in my pocket, lucky sneakers on my feet, and sit in the stands chewing on dentyne gum...wishing...praying...hoping....living the ultimate dream with a big left handed kid and wanting the best for him, whatever that may be....

Hopefully this story ends with the line: "and they lived happily ever after..."

Here we go.......

Sunday, January 29, 2012

...just a little unwell

Happy Sunday...it's a nice day in the northeast and I am still waiting for cold weather to kill these yukky stink bugs! What are stink bugs? I am really not sure but they look prehistoric. We have had them in the region for about 5 years and they seem to be everywhere. If you pick one up and accidentally squished it, the odor is powerful. Therefore, you have to place the crawling bug on a piece of paper or napkin and throw it out the door or swimming in the toilet. I would assume that cold weather would kill them, but the chill is not in the air, sooooo stink bugs live on and on and on and on.....

Sorry that I have not posted but my project is still in front of me and I have to try not to multitask....although, with this project, I am slowly going nuts...It requires a great deal of thought (yikes) and attention to detail (double yikes) and those qualities are not my strengths...I am to the point where I hate it and have to get it off my desk before I jump out the office window. Not to worry, it is on the second floor...I won't die...just mangle my knee or break a leg...or knock some sense into this clueless brain. As Matchbox 20 would sing: "I'm not crazy I'm just a little unwell..."

I did hear from the big kid last night. He was walking to find some late night food with Dog in the center of campus. It seems that the cafeterias are open late on Saturdays in an attempt to give the students somewhere to go besides a bar. Buddy was in his pre game mode....going to dominate....ready for the big scrimmage...going down....ready for action....got to eat well and get a good night sleep before the game...it seems that our boy is almost mentally and physically prepared for the season. Oy! Such hard work...is it worth it?

Hmmmm....I think that it is. Even if he does not have straight "A"s, he is still doing something that very few people in the world can do at this level. So, I give him credit for his perseverance and work ethic when it comes to baseball. This will translate into something big later in life...hopefully a MLB contract....That's his goal...now, will he achieve it? He is running out of time as a sophomore and plans on maximizing every opportunity that he has. Everything else in his life is not as important as his goal.

The season begins in Tampa on President's weekend. We finally purchased the plane tickets for the tournament. Last year, Tink and I went to the games and had a so-so time with me lying prone on the bed with a virus as the cleaning lady made the bed around me while I leaned over to vomit in the trashcan...ahhh memories, so precious....This year, dad is joining us and we are doing the typical "dad-planned" trip...got a great price on airfare.....fly into Jacksonville (3 hours from Tampa) and drive to the hotel. We fly home on Monday morning at 6 am from Jacksonville. What is wrong with this itinerary? The money that we save on the flight, we will spend on an extra night in a hotel, extra day rental car, food, and gasoline. At least we got a deal on the airfare!

And so as the season approaches, I have the lucky sneakers, team hat and sweat shirt, and camera charged with a new memory card ready to capture the memories. I will also document the highs and lows as the big kid continues to work toward his goal....

Have a great day!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Remembering a friend....

Good morning....still trying to finish the big project, although after meeting with the boss on Wednesday, I have discovered that I need to put more time into it...OY!
Yesterday, I got nothing done...no thinking or typing despite a deadline....Why? You may ask....

Well....a friend had passed away and her service was yesterday morning. It was a day of reflection and not work. She was a good person who always made an impact on others with her intelligence, charm, and great wit. We worked together for 15 years and I was blessed to have her on my staff. She would take on projects and committees without fuss or complaint. This is rare in my business. She attended to details and always offered a smile during the toughest of times. Although I was a supervisor for a number of years, I felt that she was my boss and mentor. I looked to her for advice and wisdom. She was available for both and never let me down.

A few years ago, my deceased friend, a widow, took a cruise to Alaska. My mind works in a convoluted manner so I said to her, "The single male to female ratio in Alaska is high...did you find a guy?" In a way that only she could answer, she replied: "The odds are good...but the goods are odd...."

Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Counting money

Sorry gang...I am on the run again with the project and don't have time to multitask....although I am going to beat up my body and play an hour of paddle this morning. Paddle is tough on the knees, since they have to be bent the entire time. Why, oh why do I subject myself to the torture? The answer may surprise you...."dunno"....that's it...I don't know why I do it....perhaps for a little socializing....maybe I am reliving my past when I could walk twenty miles, climb a mountain, and play three hours of tennis without missing a beat. Oy!

To Buddy....nothing new....he's focusing and training and practicing and plotting...he's going to stage a coup and overtake every left hander on the team. it will be a blood bath and he will be victorious (in his mind). I like a kid with goals.

He did mention that he was struggling with a financial statement in his Finance class. Did he miss the memo that shared with him what his dad did for a living? Dad won't do the work for him, but he will walk him through the process. Apparently, it is not that difficult....not that I want to learn...'cause I don't....something about addition and subtraction and an Excel spreadsheet....oh, yeah...logical thinking is useful too. Hey, if he can figure out 90 ways to overcome his opposition on the baseball diamond, he can figure out a simple financial statement....and if not....oh brother....

I saw in the news today that Prince Fiedler signed at $210 million dollar contract. Tim Linsecum signed a $40 million dollar contract. Now, if these dudes cannot read a financial statement, they are doomed. My gut tells me that they are going to take a quickie tutorial on how to count their money.

I actually do not need an Excel spreadsheet or a financial wizard to take care of my money. It's in the bottom of my purse in quarters, dimes, and pennies...all I need to do is count $1.57 for a small cup of coffee....life is simple...who needs a financial statement? Off to do battle....have a good one....

Monday, January 23, 2012

Making and Missing Goals

Good morning...the snow is melting which has Tink in a happy mood. It seems that she hurt her back while shoveling on Saturday and prefers the barren, brown look of winter. And so it goes...yes, I did have her shovel the driveway....no, I did not help her....any more questions?

Yesterday was a big day in the football and baseball worlds. The NFL games were exciting and I actually watched most of them. I could not help by feel sorry for the kicker from the Ravens who missed a field goal that would have tied the game. He must have felt agony and despair. If it was me, I would need some of that Michael Jackson sedation....'cause it was a global blunder. Does this happen? Of course it does...someone has to win and someone has to lose, but I cannot imagine being the guy who the world watched miss the tying field goal. All I can say is "agony" and "therapy!" One thought....it takes a huge amount of courage and talent to be on a professional team...so I give him a great deal of credit. Let's NOT talk about the punt returner who fumbled in overtime.....

I can relate to their pain on a smaller level. As Buddy had his first loss of his college career on national television, he was despondent BUT as we all remember, it is a team sport and not about 1 guy...it's about 9+ who come together to defeat the opposition.

Yesterday he called his dad (not me) to report that in practiced he struck out 4 out 6 batters that he faced. Two thoughts arise...either he is pitching "lights out" OR the batters were hung over from the previous night's party. You choose.

I usually hear from him as he walks to class in the morning. He calls, I think because he wants to report and hear about what is going on. I love the fact that he is comfortable enough to call home on a regular basis. This pleases me to know what he is doing and how he is feeling. I think that there is a trust factor. He can trust his parents to listen to him and tell him like it is. He also knows that we love him no matter how many batters or battles he faces or issues that he untangles. Life is about working together to attain our mutual and personal goals. My goal is to make sure that my family is safe and hopefully happy. His goal is a bit different, but I know that he cares deeply for all of us (including Diva Dog). However, it is his time to shine and work toward his own goal. I like the fact that a college education is attached to the aforementioned goal....

With that said, I am still working on this major work project and will be locked in my office without food or water, sustaining myself strictly on caffeine. My goal today is to write a coherent sentence or two and perhaps emerge for another cup of coffee around 1 pm.....take care....stay warm....

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Where is Mississippi?

Snow! yes, we had some snow....finally winter is moving along...why am I happy? I actually love looking at snow...not skiing, driving, or walking in it, but it is so pretty on the trees and grass. Diva Dog hates it, she can't find a place to go to relieve herself, so neighbors often watch Tink and me shovel our grass just for the dog's comfort. Isn't that what every dog owner does in the snow?

Not much going on with baseball, although team practice has begun. Buddy reports that he has made a few mental errors with his fielding, but can fix them without too much effort. His transformation into his season personality is almost complete. Last night (Saturday), the big kid was invited to the captain of the team's party and he turned him down to do (get this...) laundry and homework! Yep, that's my boy...he'd rather have fresh underwear and socks and plenty of sleep rather than go to a social gathering....how mature...

Actually, I am scratching my head at this one....was clean boxers the real reason for staying in on a Saturday night OR was the memory of last Saturday night with the drunken partiers invading his bedroom at 4 am the actual reason for his absence from the party? If so, I thank him profusely, 'cause I did not want to fund another weekend in a hotel so that he can get some sleep. Further, I think that the big hole from his fist going through it is still in the wall and we may have to call upon Uncle G from New Hampshire to spackle the all of the holes in the wall and prepare the apartment for their departure in July. Oh, did I say 'holes' (plural)?...Yep, it seems Angel lost his cool last week during the Packers loss and threw his cell phone against the wall and shattered it. He was without his phone for almost a week after his tantrum. Fortunately, his parents sent him money for his birthday and he was able to purchase another one. Word to Angel...birthdays come around only once a year....keep the phone in your pocket...OK? After all, I want my deposit back so that we can do this again next year...oh boy!

Now that the season is close to beginning, I have to make my travel plans...this includes figuring out a way to get to Mississippi. No offense to Mississippi, but I am clueless as to how to get there. I must do my research, since this may be my one and only time to go there. It's been a long time since I had geography, so...where is Mississippi? I can visualize it on the map, but from that point I don't know much about it except it is one of the poorest states in the country and the health care for the residents needs to be reformed. Aside from the health care issue and location, I am stumped...and so, over the next few weeks, if you are like me and stuck in the northeast, I will share with you what I learn about Mississippi in my research. It could be a little class on culture, food, drink, and typography....oh goodie...right? And you thought that BPM was light-hearted fluffy daily reading...nope, together we are going to learn about our great country this year. Stay tuned, I am going check Wikipedia!

Have a great day!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Zone

Good morning....not much to say today since I have a mountain of work on my desk and am in the "zone."

What is the "zone"? Well, the zone appears after lots of mental preparation. The zone emerges when I have an overwhelming amount of work to do and am too stressed to do it. The zone takes a few days, but finally appears and I begin to focus on what I need to accomplish.

You may think that this is odd, but I need stress and a good dose of anxiety before I can tackle big problems and issues. Until then, my brain continues to work as it is supposed to, taking one project at a time. now, however, the boss added a very big (and I mean big!) project for me to complete. Yesterday, finally...I descended into my zone and began to capably work on the issue. So far, I have completed 24 narrative pages and am still not nearly finished. The way that I look at it is, now that I am in the zone, I will be able to focus and finish by next Wednesday.

That's a long time to be in any zone, but this is massive...did I say "big"? The accreditation of our department at work is dependent of me doing a good job. There's the pressure....the project is due next week...there's the anxiety...pressure+anxiety=zone.

Can I compare my "zone" to one of an athlete? You betcha....Talk about pressure and anxiety. The players are competing against friends for a position....pressure....once they earn that position, they have to perform or lose their jobs...there's the anxiety.

Baseball season starts in one month in the sunny state of Florida (yahoo!). The athletes are in their zones as they juggle school and training. Emotions have to be deadened in order to survive the pressures. Therefore, I now have something in common with the guys....the "Zone." As they work toward their goals, I will work on mine. By President's Weekend, I will be out of my zone and back into my BP mom mode. The pressure will then come from watching the games and waiting for my bullpen player to be let loose. Until then...got to go....project...thinking...typing...editing....full sentences....got to make sense...ouch...it hurts my brain....buh buh!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happy 85th Birthday, Bullpen Grandpop!

Good morning! It's an amazing day in the BPM household. Today, Grandpop turns 85 years old. How about that? 85 years....that's a long time, although if you ask him, he will tell you that the time went quickly. Today, he celebrates with 6 children, 10 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild (a girl:-))on the way. That's a legacy and then some.

Pop may not be tall in stature but he has a big personality. A loving one too...in fact, there are days when I arrive at their home and we cannot go anywhere until we get a big hello and he finishes his prayers. There must be 40 or so prayer cards that he reads every day after mass. Grandpop and Grandmom go to church every day and are regular fixtures in church. I, for one, am grateful that he is so devout. I can feel the prayers as I tackle difficult tasks or personal issues. I know that his family is his top priority.

So, I go back to the usual question...what do you buy a saint for his 85 birthday? Well, in the past, I have bought books written by every Pope...sweaters, heavy socks, boots, and so on....But 85 seems like it should be marked with a marching band or fireworks. This is an issue that I have grappled with over the years.....he doesn't need anything or really want anything. He likes the Philly sports teams, church, gardening, and his family and friends....So, embedded in there is a gift or two....

I am going to rule out clothes since he does not want or need them. The marching band may be tough to book especially in January. We go to the Phillies games together, so cross that off the list. Sure, I can pick up flowers, he likes them...but really...flowers for your 85th birthday?

Let's see....if I was turning 85, what would I want? Perhaps I would ask for a new hip and knees....a hair style that does not droop after putting a turtleneck sweater on, or "cushy" shoes that do not look like they are therapeutic....fashionable...you know?

What I would really want is to spend time eating and drinking with family and friends. Who doesn't like a little Merlot and cake with funny conversation? Even with his hearing aid, Grandpop can still hear our banter, which can be outrageous and often pretty funny. There is no limit on how we can poke fun at each other. Actually, we are the only ones who can do it...anyone outside of the family, would have a big fight on their hands.

And so, I will give him what I want....time, companionship, food, drink, and togetherness....a person does not have to be 85 years old to know that this is the best present of all...the gift of your self....tied up in a bow with opened arms and a big hello....

Happy Birthday, Dad....I love you.....

Monday, January 16, 2012

Preseason Preparation: Not for Wimps

Good morning...most schools and offices are off today....am I? Nope...life goes on and on....how is it going? well......

Yesterday the big kid called a few times. Some calls were happy. Some calls were sad. He is trying to find his way again and seems lost. The season is impending and I am sure the stress has a great deal to do with his labile emotions. As his stress increases, so does mine. I guess that it is a "mom-thing' when you do not want anything bad to happen to your child.

Actually, it is probably not a "mom-thing" but a "people-thing". I don't think that a person has to be a mother to have these feelings for someone that you love. Seeing a person in pain is difficult. When you love them, it is more troubling. Because, there is nothing that a person can do but be there emotionally and perhaps physically for them. You need to be consistent and able to listen and not offer the old "tennis stories" of fame and despondence. Further, a caring person allows the loved one to vent even when it seems inappropriate. Therefore, I have to unlock my 'control' button and leave it on the kitchen counter.

It's time for me to spend time just listening. Often when the kid calls in this state of mind, I will ask the question: "Do want advice or for me to listen?" I let his answer to this question dictate the next approach to the conversation.

When the answer is to listen, I immediately close my mouth and do my best to understand what he is saying. I will say that even though he is living his dream, the old adage of "be careful what you wish for...." always is in the back of my mind. At this point in the year, not only is he preparing physically for battle but mentally. He has to close off his emotions and become the fierce competitor that got him to where he is...and he is...a fierce person during the season. The Mr. Nice Guy disappears and his focus is on slaying the competition. Here is where I think that he struggles....

He is a very nice, kind, and considerate person. The emotions that he feels on the mound have to be turned off. Yet, it is virtually impossible to shut emotions off for two hours, therefore, he has to prepare in pre-season to turn into a beast. His mind is fluctuating between Mr. Nice Guy and Mr. Win-at-all-costs (even if it means throwing a fast ball at my mother's head to win a game). It cannot be a simple task to turn off the real person and turn into Freddy Kruger.

Here is a kid who stops what he is doing to find Lil A, his nine year old cousin to say good bye to her when he is leaving for college. He is a person who prefers the peanut butter that his grandmother has in her house, rather than mine probably because of the memories of Grandmom making him crackers and peanut butter when he refused to eat anything else. I don't see the difference in peanut butter, but he does. Further, he is a guy who almost came to blows with some Chilean nuns at the Vatican who were climbing over his younger cousin and trying to get closer to the Pope. That would have been an interesting battle...Buddy and the nuns fighting as the Pontiff watched the action. The Holy Father probably would have taken the points on the nuns and dropped $20 with his bookie.

AS you can see, this is a problem and will continue to be until he throws his first pitch. Then his season transformation will be complete. Until then, I will hang in there with the highs and lows, frustrations and joys of preseason. Hope that you can hang in there with me.....

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Spackling 101

When does the fun begin? I ask myself on a number of occasions. If a person achieves their greatest dream, that is, to play D1 baseball, why are there so many woes?

I always felt that part of the actualization of a dream was the joy of working toward the goal. As one has the idea and moves incrementally toward a dream, the time to enjoy the dream is the journey. But for some reason, it is not always good enough.

I know that I am being vague, so I will begin as I always do with the phone call to me at home...."Mom, I don't feel like myself. I don't think that I belong..." And there is went...how many times can a mother say: "Whaddya tawkin' 'bout? You have it all....athleticism, looks, killer grin, great hair....D1 school....cool clothes...a laptop with wireless internet....and you have problems?" As I looked out at the backyard with the phone in my hand, I had to think that there was more to his statement.

"Yeah...I dunno...I'm in a rut..." Hmmmm.... we are back to school for 5 days and the work has not yet begun and he is in a rut. Again, there is more to this story.

After several Hawaii 5-0 type questions, I was left with fewer answers than when I began the inquisition. Perhaps it is fatigue.....worry about school....a girl who doesn't like him....LW....his pitch speed....He has enough money after the grandparents and uncles and aunts came through over the holidays....He carries my credit card.....what is it?

Moving on to 4 am this morning when the phone rang. Whenever I hear the phone during the night, I immediately think that someone has died or someone has beaten my son and he is in the hospital. The fears never leave....No one died this morning (whew)...it was an irate son who was agitated with his room mates.

Here is the story....the guys went to a party and came back to the apartment with Big Red's girl friend and her friends. They were all drunk except Buddy, who does not drink anymore. When it came time to go to bed, the party was continuing....one girl passed out on the sofa bed....Angel was with another girl (oy) in their room....another girl was visibly inebriated and would not leave the sleeping bear sleep. The party got louder and louder, the girls and guys drank more AND boom! Someone's fist went through a wall....guess what my credit card has to pay for now?

Yep...he was so angry with the craziness, that he threw a tantrum....broke through a wall with his pitching hand...left the apartment in a huff...and called home at 4 am.

After dad talked him through the issues, he told Buddy to leave the apartment and to check into the hotel in the middle of town. When he arrived at the hotel, he called again and we spoke for a while. It was around 5 am, so any more sleep was non existent. After our conversation, I asked him to call later in the day and we could work on a strategy for conflict resolution in the apartment.

I would say that this is crazy...but it is college life. Dad shared with him that he slept in his car on a number of occasions when things were nutty in his apartment. Yet...some how, some way, the leftie is going to have to figure it out without making a scene. But first, the lesson to learn here is that you cannot negotiate with a drunk person, therefore, he did the right thing by leaving.

The second lesson is that he should have a better lock on the door and lock it when he does not want drunken girls in his room while he is trying to sleep. The last piece of advice that I had given to him before he left home was "never be alone with a drunk girl....ever...ever...I mean ever...." I guess that he kept these words in the back of his head or maybe he was peeved that he was awake in the middle of the night when he was exhausted.

The third lesson is that there should be household rules regarding "guests" especially between Angel and Buddy. Since they share a room, Buddy had no where to go especially since there was a drunken girl on the sofa. The girl who wanted Buddy's bed eventually got it since she was not going to sleep with LW. Buddy packed up his laptop, grabbed his coat and phone and called dad.

Leave it to dad to figure out a problem out 180 miles away from home. He called the hotel and made a reservation and the kid checked in....Is that the end of this story?

Nope....after finally getting a good night sleep, he was refreshed and checked out of the hotel. He is on his way for waffles with next year's room mates. He already had one "conversation" with Angel who apologized profusely and swore that it would never happen again. Next victims will be Big Red and his girl friend. Since it was BR's girl friend's posse who caused the trouble, then both of them should be part of the discussion. Lastly, LW was the guy who had the music turned way up at 3 am and was thrilled with the house guests. LW will also be part of the conversation, but it is doubtful that his behaviors will change.

What does BP mom say about all of this? Well...it is college...crazy parties can last all night....guys and girls will make drunken fools of themselves....people are going to party...vomit...and pass out...however, there is a percentage of college kids who are there to achieve their goals and begin to live their dreams. This leaves the all night party out of the equation.

Buddy is a lucky guy who has a dad who will immediately jump into action to assist him. Without a second thought, dad sent him to a hotel....not the two star hotel on the edge of town but the 4 star hotel in the middle with free WiFI. And so, the journey to the major leagues continues...more bumps...a few bruises...and a busted wall....

Friday, January 13, 2012

Decision making

Good morning! Winter is finally settling into the northeast. Am I complaining? Nope...the sooner it comes, the sooner it leaves. That is my simple logic...take it or leave it.

Sorry. I'm a little grumpy today. Thursdays are my long day and it takes me a while to get moving on Friday morning. Don't get me wrong, I love teaching my classes, but sometimes the length of the day affects me and makes me a bit weary. Again, no complaints, just an explanation of why Friday can often be a down day for me.

I started yesterday with a phone call from the big kid. He reported that the Lone Wolf is out of shape and had trouble training yesterday to the point where he collapsed during the sprints. He shared with Buddy that his arm has hurt for months and he will not have surgery. This troubled me, 'cause LW needs baseball to feel good about himself. He struggles socially and only has one outlet...the team, the baseball, and games. Without any of them, he will truly be a loner. I feel bad for him. Some of his decisions so far are not to be emulated. I often scratch my head and say 'what is he thinking?'...perhaps he is not thinking at all.

Right after the conversation, I ran (OK, limped) to paddle practice. It was raining and we were practicing in a light mist. Like LW, I need my head examined to see why I make the decisions that I make. The knees creak, the elbow sings, and I am much slower than I was a few years ago...but there I am with my paddle in my hand, ready, willing, and unable. The coach is so sweet and continues to offer me suggestions and praise on occasion..."See what you did? The ball went up in the air....that is so good..." I eat it up...yep...when I hit the little ball into the air whether it is good or not, I get a feeling of accomplishment. It's almost like I threw a strike out to end the World Series and win it for the team....OK, sorry...time for more coffee.

Anyway, as I type this note, I have an ice bag on the knee trying to settle it. I must be crazy because later this morning I have a tennis match. For 90 minutes, I will try to keep the ball in play and help to win the match for the team. I will first have to remove the ice pack, take a few Motrin, and stretch. Perhaps, I should add my elbow guard which helps with the pain. Oy! This is all part of the aging process...

Interesting. Seeing what I do everyday as far as training or exercising or playing a sport is concerned, makes me realize something big....perhaps my son gets his crazy 'win at all cost' and 'I want to be in the game' mentality from me. Oooops....shouldn't I have taught him to love the arts, paint, or learn an instrument (past the clarinet in 3rd grade)? I did teach him how to cook an egg, cookies (the kind that you cut from a refrigerated roll), make a bed, do laundry, and brush his teeth. Perhaps, I also taught him intensity and focus. Maybe his athletic tantrums are my fault. After all, children learn from their parents, peers, and teachers. I never had a tantrum on the court, but I have been pretty intense. Why go out there and pick up a racquet if you do not want to win? What would be the point?

Therapy....that's what I need...therapy...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Another one bites the dust

It seems like it is hunting season on pitchers....Remember Elmer Fudd when he would say: "Shhhh....I am hunting for wabbit..."? Well, it is not Elmer who is taking down these pitchers. It is overuse of their arm and returning to play too soon. Such a dilemma....one pitcher had the Tommy John surgery. he was almost ready to come back, but in his excitement, he rejoined the team before he was completely rehab'ed... he is out indefinitely....Now the team is down to 12 pitchers for the season since another player is academically ineligible....

Let's consider this issue....You have been invited to play ball on a college team. The world has opened up to you. You are given a place to stay and food, very cool uniforms, equipment, and a state of the art stadium. You will play all over the country and be on television. Your needs will be met by other people who are trained to take care of you and your body. All you have to do is go to class and study and keep your grades out of the basement. That's it....oh yeah...and go to practice.

However, there are a few guys who feel entitled and therefore party all night and skip class. That, my friend, is a recipe for disaster. The reality is that the kids have an adviser who knows the "athlete-friendly" professors. All a kid has to do is go to class...sleeping with the head on the desk is optional. Why, oh why, would a person screw this up? Granted, I like a party or two or three...but really, if my livelihood or scholarship depended on me just showing up at a class a few times a week, I think that I can pull myself out of bed, flatten my hair, throw on some sweat clothes, and drag myself to my Algebra II class.

The professors actually like having the athletes in class. This week, Buddy was called out by his business professor as he told the class how well he pitched and that he was going places (I don't know where...but he is going). This was the first time a professor acknowledged that he was an athlete. Although last year, he took a mandatory class on "how to talk to the media". ...Yes, a three credit course on how to be a college athlete. Even a course like this, the big kid earned a "B". Then he had a class taught by his baseball coach...I think that he earned an "A" in that one. nevertheless, he showed up for the classes even though he would have preferred to stay in bed...why? Because, he would fail and be ineligible. Honestly, baseball is the reason that he is in college...without it, why bother?

Caustic? You may ask? Nope, it's the truth. Granted, if he did not make the teams, then he would be at a college taking business and preparing for life in a suit. But with baseball, options are limitless...even if he does not make the majors, he is still making some contacts that he can use when he finally graduates. The way that I see it is that he desperately wants to stay involved in the sport. College is instrumental in helping him to achieve his goals....my recommendation is to go to class and open the book and perhaps read it. Learning can be inspirational....fun....interesting...and open doors to the world. Therefore, get your bodies out of bed and to class...NOW!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Playing through the pain

Good morning! I would like to know what is going on in college baseball with the pitchers? Team mate number 3 (another leftie) is out indefinitely needing Tommy John surgery. Yes, the third player....are they playing the kids too much? too little? what about their technique and fundamentals? Is it a coaching issue in which the pitching coach does not know proper technique? OR is it the player who will "play through the pain" at all costs?

Pain means that something is wrong. It is the body tapping on your shoulder and whispering in your ear: "Uh, dude....you had better listen to me....I know that you don't listen to your folks...but it's me...pain speaking....and I am so powerful that I can end your budding baseball career....that's right, kid...keep ignoring me and I win...."

And so, our heroes on the diamond who have had one goal in their lives to play MLB ignore an intense and significant signal...Mr. Pain... and continue to throw the ball thinking that they can play through it and conquer the evil force.

We, as parents and friends know better. Pain is insidious and can mean the difference between having a good year or a miserable one. When Buddy's arm was hurting him over the holidays, he was one pitiful kid....and I mean miserable....How miserable? Well, how does, don't let the door hit you on the way out? Or, how about some cookies and cream ice cream...just take the spoon and carton...eat the whole thing... Do you want to go for a hair cut? massage? I'm paying....a tank of gas? have your friends over and throw the trash around the basement? I'll pick up for you.. Don't make your bed for a week...I'll do your laundry....come one...smile again....

Sheesh....thankfully, he got the attention and MRI that he needed to identify the source of his pain. Now he is in physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around his shoulder. Further, he is throwing without Mr. Pain on his shoulder whispering in his ear saying..."Yeah...keep throwing....play through me...nothing will happen...."

Another big disaster averted... I think. Another coming, I am sure.

Time for work....have a great day.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Vaya con Dios

Sniff sniff...he's gone and so is the laundry room filled with dirty socks, hundreds of tee shirts, and sneakers. There are no opened doors, water bottles in the sofa cushions, dirty dishes in the sink and around the house, chocolate wrappers on the floor, or bathrooms without toilet paper....sigh...I miss the big kid...Before he left, I had to inspect his bedroom to make sure that it was clean. He stood next to me as I examined the bed, night stand, and desk for trash or dirty clothes. I then asked him: "Should I open the closet?" His reply was: "Please don't." OK, I will do it after a tetanus shot or if I see anything crawling from it. I am positive that he jammed everything into it yesterday morning. Perhaps after a glass of wine, I will have enough courage to open the closet door and peak inside...no hurry...

Last night, he texted me as he watched his favorite football player Tim Tebow in Denver. He and Big Red watched the entire game without LW interrupting with a new rap song.

As we drove home, I was quiet, introspective, and sad. I really love when he is around, yet he is 19 years old and has to be launched. He is living his dream, so I have to be happy for him. It this thought alone that helps me to keep perspective. Sadly, knowing that he will not be home until August for a few weeks does not help me. Therefore I will look at the positive aspects of Buddy's departure:

1. We have more food in the house
2. I do not have to create 5 course meals each night. We can go back to protein and a salad and be satisfied.
3. Money will not disappear at an alarming rate for gas or morning bagels.
4. Utility bills will be lower as the rest of us do not take three daily showers or leave lights on all night.
5. We will chat more since the big kid likes to call when he walks to class, practice, and study hall.
6. As the season begins, Tink and I strap on the lucky sneakers and head for parts of the country that we have read about it in books and watched on CNN.
7. I can continue to learn more about him as I listen to the games on the radio and see him on television.
8. We are privileged to live with the highs and lows of the baseball season.
9. There will be more LW drama
10. I can observe the metamorphosis of a little boy with a big dream as he grows into a young man with a bigger dream.

And so, there you have it in a nutshell...the highs and the lows of raising a child to leave home and find his way in the world. He has roots and wings...don't forget about us kiddo...we are here at home, eating a salad and listening to your game and praying that you can strike the batter out.... Vaya con Dios...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

bye bye big guy

Good afternoon....it's been a long day. I have been cooking and baking and getting the big kid ready for a 6 month departure. I am truly going to miss him. He's a nice guy and fun to have around the house. Yes, it is true that I grumble that he does not close doors in 25 degree temperatures, eats every morsel of food in the pantry and complains that we do not have anything to eat, and does not follow through on any request that I make of him....but I still like having him here.

And so, based upon his final requests, I am making a big pot of barbecued pulled pork, a chocolate cheesecake, chocolate toffee, and the magical stuffed cupcakes. I think that he will be well fed this week at school until the goodies have been inhaled by his room mates. Actually Big Red asked for the cupcakes, so I absolutely had to bake them. It is so rare that he asks for anything. Angel is too shy to ask, but Big Red knows the right word....all he has to do is say "cupcake?" and I have baked two dozen before he can say "please."

Tomorrow, we will pack the big kid, his gifts, laundry, and goodies into the car and return him to his apartment. School begins next week and so does baseball. I am looking forward to the season since it begins in February.

Believe it or not, I already found my lucky sneakers for 2012. They were sitting quietly at Famous Footwear when Tink and I stumbled upon them. These Converse sneakers meet all of the requirements...cute...cheap...washable...can wear with or without socks...a lucky bargain = lucky sneakers....and so I am prepared well in advance of the first pitch. How lucky am I?

Actually, I am not very lucky these days...I have added a zip code onto my waist line and therefore on Monday, I begin the Belly Fat diet. What is the BF diet? Well, Jorge Cruise developed a low carbohydrates and low sugar diet that is easy, doable, and fast. I am generally not hungry on the diet although I go through sugar withdrawal during the first week. This is not bad at all, since my goal is to fit back into the pants that are hanging in my closet before February.

Got to run...something smells like it is burning......

Friday, January 6, 2012

Oreo cookies: A snack or a meal?

Good morning!
This week has been a blur as I have returned to work and have more papers piled high on my desk. Actually, I don't have the actual papers since I am a paperless professor. Students submit their work electronically and I grade it on the computer then send it back. The computer is an amazing tool and I feel as if I am doing my best for the environment by forbidding students to submit paper copies of their work. Besides...its easier....

On to paddle...yes! I played outside on the coldest day of the year and actually took my heavy coat off. A person can and does work up a sweat while playing the sport. I went to my first session ever with a coach who has won a national championship. I proceeded to stand on the baseline, tried to look imposing, and missed the first 5 balls sent to me. Not only did I miss the balls, I was not even close....Not only did I miss the balls from afar but I looked like a fool trying to follow the ball and hit it with my paddle. Then I began to question my sanity and reason for trying the sport when I finally hit a ball! Yes, I did it! Yeah...you go, girl!

I hit that ball so hard that it went into the net. With this success, my next ball flew out of the cage. It was at that point, I could not make eye contact with the coach because I could see her think: "Yep, pathetic! I am going to have to work hard for my money today."

Not to be deterred, I signed up for another lesson thinking that I have to master this sport. Will I be any good? Who knows....but the way that you stand at the net is with your knees bent and bottom out. That stance was invented for me, 'cause my bottom was out...way, way out....post Christmas cookie out....yep, the perfect sport for me.

On to my boy with tendonitis....he is feeling better and the gel prescribed by Dr G has made quite a difference. He is throwing without pain and feeling as if he will be going to Tampa (whew! Gotta get my plane tix). I also believe that he is not sleeping on his left side (per Pop) which has taken the pressure off it.

With that said, he is leaving on Sunday and has made a few requests: pulled pork, chocolate cheesecake, stuffed cupcakes (actually, Big Red wants them) and toffee. I have started to make the items and will freeze them for transport. He can pull a serving out of the freezer when he is hungry. Although Tink wants to make chocolate cookies to send to LW. It seems that she has planned to get him too fat to play. This is too diabolical for me to agree to...where did she get such a devious mind?

I am going to miss the big messy guy...it was nice having him around. I always knew where he was in the house because I could follow his trail of a sock on the floor, crumbs in the pantry, doors left opened, water bottles on the floor, and dirty dishes all over the house. I found a Skittles wrapper in the sofa cushions and knew that he was eating while he was home. Actually, it does not take Sherlock Holmes to figure it out. but we do have a mystery....I have a recipe for brownies with Oreos that I promised my class that I would make for them. I bought three packages over the past three weeks. Every time I went to the pantry to make the oreos' brownies, the package would be in the pantry and empty.

No one has admitted to eating the cookies despite me warning them that they were earmarked for brownies that I was taking to school. Each time that I would make an inquiry, the responses were the same: "not me..." Finally, I hid the bag of cookies where no one would find them and was able to bake the brownies. But the mystery continues...who ate the three bags of oreos? I do have options such as weighing each person after I buy another bag or check their mouth for 'oreo-breath' (which is not as bad as Dorito-breath). Or I let it go and chalk it up to someone who was starving because we never have food in the house and had to make a snack out of an entire box of cookies. And so, I am now on my way to run a few errands and oreos are not on my list....

Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Paddle Ball...why?

Greetings. I am up early and getting ready to learn paddle ball. No, this is not the language that I professed that I would learn in 2012, but something a bit different in my weekly routine. Got to keep the activities fresh and not fall into the same dull patterns. Time to learn a new skill even though it means playing outside in 10 degree temperature.

Ten degrees? Huh huh...after I finally made the commitment to play today (the coach has been after me for months), I thought that we would be playing indoors. After all, it is winter right? What I did not know and learned last night is that paddle ball is played outdoors...no matter what season you are in...that means...outdoors....with a paddle in my hand...coat and hat on...trying to hit a little round ball. I must be nuts. Something happened to my brain between 2011 and 2012 that made me lose my mind. Quick, someone help me to come to my senses before it is too late and I have signed up for 10 weeks worth of lessons....that would take up into late February....OY!

As far as our favorite leftie is concerned, he has been given a topical ointment by Dr G to help to alleviate the inflammation. I have been using it for months and it is great. He would not try it until it was "cleared" by the trainer. It seems that the NCAA rules are quite strict about performance enhancement drugs and steroids which is appropriate. This ointment is neither but he felt the need to check anyway. Now that it has been approved, he has been using the cream. According to the southpaw, it is amazing and he wants a case of the stuff. I wonder if United Healthcare will cover it?

OK, got to go, bundle up, and make a frigid fool out of myself. So what else is new?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Healing touch

Good morning....After two weeks of down time (sort of), I am returning to work this morning, so I have to keep this short. This morning Buddy almost beat me as the first one out of bed in the house. As he dragged himself out of his room, he mentioned that he has the following agenda: get a fresh bagel, throw, cardio, and weights. After he finishes, we are headed to a hockey game as a family.

However, yesterday, Tink, Buddy and I went to the Y to work out. He was going to work on conditioning, and Tink and I were going to class. As I was walking into the aerobics room, I saw a good friend whom I have known since my son was in elementary school. Her youngest boys were athletes with Buddy and we bonded over football games. As I got to know her better, I hired her at the university and we have been friends and colleagues for years. She is a wonderful person and will do anything for anyone. In fact, she was instrumental in working with me to develop the research on health care of the homeless and indigent. Our research is now part of a collaborative effort in several states.

So, where am I going with this train of thought? R, my friend and colleague, has been trained in Healing Touch. For those of you who do not know what HT is, HT is an energy therapy designed to relax and invigorate individuals. I have never been one to believe in energy therapies, but there is some evidence that it is effective. Now, HT is not miraculous like the miracles in the Bible. It is simply works with the body's natural healing process to support the body's ability to heal itself. After all, we have been designed with killer T cells and antibodies that can facilitate this process. Further, HT allegedly promotes relaxation, stress reduction, pain reduction and so on.

As I stood by the treadmills chatting with R, I realized that she may have the answer for Buddy's arm pain, so I asked her to perform some HT on his shoulder. At first, I thought that he would not want any part of it, but he was eager to try it. As she performed HT, he claimed to have felt 'heat' in the shoulder area. She continued for a few more minutes and had to go. She then asked him if he would like an extended treatment later in the week. Again, he agreed which I thought was interesting....

After the work outs, I handed him the keys to the car. Driving home he got very excited: "Mom, I don't feel that twinge in my shoulder for the first time in months..." Hmmmm...really? That fast? Is this possible? R, the miracle worker, yes? no? Wow! Sign me up for a few of these classes. I can hang my shingle up in the cul de sac and offer HT for the overstressed mothers in the neighborhood. The possibilities are endless.

With that said, I will let you know how the extended session goes later this week. He is eager, she has the knowledge and skills...maybe, just maybe, he can return to school renewed and invigorated....who needs the expensive therapies and medications....all we need are a few therapies that tap into our personal healing abilities...the body is truly amazing. It is time to let it do the work and eliminate some of the extraneous therapies that have yet to be effective.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

En Español, por favor!

Happy New Year to all! It is almost a year since I started BPM and I would like to thank each person who encouraged me to continue to write. There were days when I did not feel like typing away yet remembering each person who likes to read my musings has kept me engaged. Therefore, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart on this first morning of the new year.

As the kids and Diva Dog sleep soundly, a new phenomenon occurred yesterday....there were no parties, no celebrations, no late nights....It was a perfect end to the year.

Today, I am not going to look backward 'cause I think that I have already learned from my mistakes. I really want to look ahead and not make the same mistakes but perhaps a few new ones. A tennis coach of mine once said: "Don't worry about double faults, it means that you are going for it..." What does that mean? Well, if we want to be successful, we are going to trip up and make a few errors along the way, but at least we are not content with the status quo. We are moving toward being better athletes or individuals. So, when you err, just remember, you are living life to the fullest and therefore when there are screw ups, they were an effort to try new things or move ahead. As we try new things, there are growing pains and learning curves. No one is flawless and therefore we can learn from trial and error.

OK, is this enough philosophy for you? Yeah, me too....my brain is starting to hurt.

And so, as I look toward 2012, I do have a few goals. These are not resolutions, since I make them every day and pretty much break them as soon as I make them. But, I signed up to learn a new skill, paddle tennis. Further, I would like to learn a new language, perhaps Italian. I had dos anos of Espanol en escuela and do not remember much. But Italian sounds intriguing. I love Italy and being part Italian, it sounds like I can try out my new skill in the city's section of Little Italy.

However, I do need to pay my Slovak heritage a tribute, but there are no adult classes to learn Slovak and no Little Slovakia in the city....so, I have narrowed my selection down to a language in which I can locally order my dinner. For example, one night we ate at an authentic Mexican restaurant and dad boldly ordered our dinners in Spanish. Consequently, we did not get what we wanted. He used the wrong words and ordered something that I did not want to eat. In his mind, he really thinks that he knows Spanish, so much so that when we were in Mexico he thought he told the cab driver that he had a "nice car." Instead he said the cab driver had a "nice knife." We laughed at that one, but dad still thinks that he is bilingual. Hmmmm.....moving on....

Yesterday I watched House Hunters International on HGTV and find this show fascinating since travel shows take me all over the world without a passport or going through customs. The episode focused on a young couple from Minnesota who was moving to Kenya for a few years and the search was on to find a reasonably price house. As they walked through Nairobi, they conversed with the people in Swahili. Imagine! Therefore, if this young couple can learn Swahili and speak in cogent sentences, why can't I learn more Spanish or Italian beyond 'ciao', 'por favor', and '¿dónde está el baño?'

With that said, have a wonderful day!

¡Felíz año nuevo!