Batter up!

January 27, 2011 at 7:25 pm (Kids) (, , )

It’s January so it must be time to think about registering Henry for baseball, right? (It’s almost as annoying as not being able to buy a sweater in the stores in February, or find a bathing suit in July.) Henry turns six in May and is headed for first grade next year, so he has two options this summer. He can either do coach pitch, which is a lot like T-ball last year, but without the tee; or he can do machine pitch, which is the start of Little League.

What Henry did last summer

My initial reaction was, let’s do coach pitch. They don’t keep score, it’s a lot more relaxed. He’ll barely be six in June, fercryinoutloud. I think my first experience of team sports was sixth grade basketball. How much do we have to accelerate this stuff, anyway?

But then I did what I always do, which is get way too many opinions about it. Opinions from parents whose kids had been through it in years past, opinions from parents of kids signing up this year, opinions from coaches, opinions from players.

And I changed my mind and decided machine pitch was the way to go.

But I still didn’t register Henry, although I was just positive I was going to.

And then something stopped me. I mean, I literally stopped in the middle of the online registration, and I asked Henry. You know, the kid who would actually be playing? And he said, “I think coach pitch sounds better, Mommy.”

I sometimes make this way harder than it needs to be.


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January 26, 2011 at 2:52 am (Kids) (, )

Sometimes I say “no” to inviting a friend along. Sometimes I decline a playdate. Sometimes I don’t want to share you.


What goes down...

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Me and the Packers: A Love Story

January 16, 2011 at 6:58 pm (Community) (, , , , , , , )

Will you permit me to write not about my family, nor about the church, but about another institution that holds a special place in my heart? I refer, of course, to the Green Bay Packers.

It’s a classic love story: football team meets girl, football team loses girl, football team finds girl again and they live happily ever after.

At Lambeau

Watching the Packers eat up the Giants December 2010

I have to confess: my first football team was NOT the Packers. I was born in Iowa, which does not boast a professional football team. My dad was a Packers fan, and my middle brother was a Vikings fan, but my oldest brother, who I adored, was a Raiders fan. So my first football fan memory is rooting for the big bad Raiders of the 1970s.

We moved to Wisconsin when I was eight, a smallish town in central Wisconsin which was Packers-crazy…like all towns in Wisconsin, small or large. (I once described my current city in Wisconsin as a place where there are two things on every corner: a church and a pub playing the Packers game). I loved to play touch football with my brother the Vikings fan and our neighbors (when they let me) and I am happy to tell you that I still have quite a spiral in my arsenal. My mom, who hates football, wouldn’t let play tackle football, although my brother (the Vikings fan, not that it’s related) would torture me with various tackle games…like setting a timer for twenty minutes and telling me he’d give me a dollar for every minute left on the clock after I tackled him. He might or might not owe me three dollars still.

As I grew into my snotty, pretentious teenage years, I actively rejected football and especially the Packers. I thought it was a violent and dumb game, and I hated what I perceived as the herd mentality that followed the Packers religiously. I’m not too proud to tell you that this period coincided with the lean playoff-less Gregg-Infante years.

Years passed and in 1996, I went away to graduate school in Washington, DC, and aside from a year abroad in Spain, it was my first experience living outside the Midwest. I think I probably found it more foreign than Madrid, too. I was terribly homesick. I missed my family, I missed the snowy winter and I missed the…oh, I don’t know, the Midwestern attitudes and values of my home state. That was the year that I realized I was a Midwesterner through and through, that I discovered I was a proud Wisconsinite and that I became a loyal Packers fan.

That was of course the season that Brett Favre and Mike Holmgren took the Packers to the Super Bowl. I found some fellow Wisconsinites and we watched the Packers win playoff game after playoff game and finally, beat the New England Patriots for their first Super Bowl win since 1967. I remember we ate sugar cookies shaped like helmets, frosted in green and gold, we screamed ourselves silly and I didn’t feel homesick in the slightest.

I realized then, I think, that being a football fan wasn’t all, or maybe even mostly, about the game. Not to revert to my snotty pretentious teenage self, but it is an exercise in community building, an experience shared by people from all walks of life. While ticket prices to games are exorbitant, you can watch the game on TV for free, and the act of rooting for your favorite team, ahem, the Packers! is another one of those threads that binds the social fabric together.

My love affair with the Packers hasn’t been all smooth sailing of course. There was the Super Bowl the following year, where the Packers lost, which I had to endure at a party I hosted, and which was attended by a vocal Denver Broncos fan. I’ve maybe almost forgiven him. There was the loss to Philadelphia (PHILADELPHIA!) in the 2004 playoffs – 4th and 26 ring a bell? There was the small issue of my husband’s allegiance to the New York Giants. A diehard Giants fan, he attended games with his dad throughout his childhood, and he has now poisoned our son into being one too. How sharper than a serpent’s tooth, etc. Kidding. Sort of. There was the Saga of Brett Favre, which isn’t over even yet.

But going through all of those travails with your team is one of those things that makes you a fan…It’s another thing to chat about at the water cooler or the school pick-up line. It’s a point where you can converge with people you might not ever have anything else in common with. Sports can be a diversion and a distraction. I’m not going to lie…after the shellacking of the Democrats on November 2 of this past year it was a great comfort to see the Packers demolish Dallas five days later. What can I say? I’m a fan. Are the Packers going to win the Super Bowl this year? Golly, I hope so…but I coudn’t love them any more than I do now even if they do.

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Epic Fail

January 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm (Community, Faith, Kids) (, , )

Father Associate Pastor came into the second grade classroom yesterday to answer questions. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know what kind of questions the other kids had but MY second-grader asked why women couldn’t become priests. (I’m totally unsurprised to hear that that was her question. We went to a friend’s baptism last spring at an Episcopal church nearby and all three of my kids were very much struck by the “girl priest.”)

How do I put this tactfully? One, again I wasn’t there, so I didn’t hear Father Associate Pastor’s actual response, and two, I understand that that is a very hard question to answer (maybe because there isn’t a good answer? whoops, not tactful) but the “explanation” that she took away was pretty weak: “We’ve never had women priests and we’re not going to have them now.”

I asked my second grader what she thought of that answer. She said, “I don’t think it’s a very good answer. Other churches have girl priests, so we can’t we? Plus, there’s a shortage of priests, so if girls could be priests, we would have more priests.”

Out of the mouths of babes…or at least second graders.

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