Kickin’ It!

Soccer season is upon us, and that means for the next six to eight weeks my Saturday will be spent at pint-sized soccer fields. While I haven’t come to embrace my role as a soccer mom, it’s hard not to love watching a bunch of four and six years olds running around in soccer shirts that hang to their knees.

Yes, she was all smiles here. She loved the uniform, even though it took both me and the husband a good ten minutes to get the socks on over her shin guards, then fold them over a couple of times, and finally stuff her feet into the shoes.

Carrie then took to the field for practice. She was ready. She was happy. She was excited. That lasted for about five minutes. My guess is she figured she’d just kick the ball and shoot it into the goal, but as soon as someone kicked the ball away from her she was done. Mind you, this was just during practice. The game hadn’t even started yet. I watched all this from the sidelines. She looked at me with a quivering lip. Her big brown eyes filled with tears. I gave her two big thumbs up, while wondering how long it was going to take ’til my kid lost her shit in the middle of the soccer field. It didn’t take long. Just seconds. So what did I do? Did I run onto the field and scoop her into my arms telling it would all be ok? Nope. I laughed. It was pretty hilarious to see her come unglued for all to see. Carrie however, didn’t find it funny at all. Luckily, the coach was much more sympathetic to my kid than I was. She ran to her and held her hand for the rest of the game as they ran up and down the field.

I thought for sure the donut at the end of the game would help cheer her up. It didn’t. It made Erin pretty happy though.

Which brings me to Erin and her first game of the season.

 

Erin likes pointing out just how big she’s getting, and she proudly showed off how she managed to put on her shin guards, socks, and tie her shoes all by herself. I must admit I was pretty proud too.

She was just as independent on the soccer field.

 

During practice, she kicked the ball with all her might and that dogged determination continued once the game started.

Leading the Pack

It didn’t matter where the ball was. If Erin could see it, she’d be on the run and kick it down the field toward the goal. She rarely (if ever) scored, (I don’t think she ever did, but she says she got one goal) but that kid is competitive. Even though Erin didn’t say it, I’m sure she was pretty bummed not to have won the game. Her only complaint was that the game was too long. As much as she ran, I’m sure the 45 minute game felt more like an hour and 45 minutes. She was beat literally and figuratively, but come this Saturday, I’m sure she’ll be right back out there giving it her all.

Two games. Two very different kids and two very different outcomes. If this first week is any indication, this year’s soccer season will be anything but boring.

 

Swimming with the Sharks

She tried dance. She tried gymnastics. She tried soccer. Now Olivia’s on to swimming. I’m hoping this sport sticks.

She came home from school earlier this week asking of she could join the local swim team, the Redwood City Sharks. Two of her friends have been on the team for a couple of years and were working on recruiting her. I was a little dubious. At nine, sure Olivia can swim, but I wouldn’t call her a strong swimmer. She’s had lessons, knows the basic strokes, but has very little endurance. It’s also a big commitment, consisting of practice five days a week and swimming laps for an hour. I wasn’t even sure my kid could make one length of the pool, let alone lap after lap.

But Olivia wanted to try it so I agreed. Of course the season had already started, but the fine swim team folks allowed her to join as long as she could swim 25 yards unassisted.

When we arrived at the pool, it was like she was starting her first day of school. Olivia looked around nervously and grabbed my hand in a death grip. I found the person in charge who told Olivia to grab a kick board, get in lane number 4 and start swimming. She did as she was told, and she s l o w l y kicked her way up and down the length of the pool for a couple of laps. She did it, but the real test was to see if she could do it sans kick board. As Olivia tossed aside the kick board, I held my breath and crossed my fingers while anxiously watching her from the sidelines. Stroke by stroke, my young swimmer did it! It wasn’t pretty, but she muscled her way onto the swim team. What’s more, my pleaser kid kept swimming lap after lap for an hour! Sure she ran into the wall during the back stroke and was at the back of the pack, but she didn’t give up. Not one time.

When practice ended, I wrapped the towel around Olivia’s shivering shoulders and gave her a big hug. She looked up at me with a huge grin which told me I made the right decision in letting her try yet another sport.

I hold no illusions that she’ll be swimming in the 2020 Olympics, but I’m pretty confident she’ll be a darn good swimmer by the end of the summer. Heck, she’s already over her fear of the diving board. Sure Olivia’s doing belly flops off the diving board, but she’s got a smile on her face as she comes out of the water.

Dad and Daughters at the Ballgame

My husband is a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan and living in the Bay Area means he only gets a couple of chances a year to see his beloved Red Birds play in person. Today was one of those days. It also gave him the chance to pull the two older girls out of school for a well deserved day of hooky at the ball park.

He may love the Cardinals, but he loves his daughters more. How do I know?

Take a close look at what he bought the girls at AT&T Park.

Take Us Out to the Ball Park!

Yes, they are indeed decked out in Giants gear. To his defense, we did look for Cardinals jerseys, but didn’t find any so instead of bleeding red, they’re bleeding orange and black. When I asked him who the girls cheered for, he said they didn’t cheer, they just ate.

And ate……

For all their eating and lack of cheering, I’m told they did watch the game.

It’s hard not to enjoy the game when this is your view.

I would have loved to been there with them, but I was otherwise occupied with the youngest Meak kid. It looked like a great day to be at the ballpark, and one I’m pretty sure will become a lifelong memory for my Cardinals loving husband.

 

 

Skiing Without Snow

Lake Tahoe is a beautiful place with or without snow, but in mid-January, I want snow, and lots of it. Unfortunately, this was my view from the top of one of the runs at Kirkwood Ski Resort.

Yes, there’s snow right in front of me, but it’s the man-made version which comes from huge snow making machines that run all night long. And even with the snow making machines working overtime, only about 30% of Kirkwood was open. That meant crappy skiing conditions for me, but the new, young, skiers didn’t seem to mind the less than stellar conditions.

Last Minute Instructions
In Line for the Chairlift

We traveled to Tahoe with family friends, and we signed-up the four older kids for lessons with two pretty awesome teachers. Before this trip, Erin had only been on a chairlift once with me, and Olivia had a very remedial knowledge of how to ski. Three days later, they were rockin’ down the slopes!

Here She Comes!

That’s Erin making her way down the hill holding a hula hoop. It’s not some aerobic skiing fusion, but a way to introduce kids to poles. From what little I saw, it works. Olivia used it on her second day of lessons, and by day three she was using poles.

She also took a couple of runs with me and her dad.

Dad and Daughter Ready for their Ski Date

I can’t tell you how immensely fulfilling it was to be able to ski with my oldest daughter. She surpassed all my expectations, and best of all, every day she was excited about skiing.

Even though I didn’t get a chance to ski with Erin, from what her teacher said, she grew by leaps and bounds. She was tired and exhausted every day, but kudos to her for stepping into the clunky uncomfortable ski boots and getting back on the hill for three straight days. We were going to let her off the hook on the final day, but she changed her mind on her own. That change of heart also meant she got to ski with her dad at the end of the day. I don’t know who was happier about it, Erin or Dad.

We did put Carrie in ski school the first day. At 3 3/4, the most I wanted her to get out of it, was getting used to wearing ski boots and all the rest of the gear.

Happy Skier

Well, you can see she succeeded.

This was our third winter Tahoe trip with the kids, but our first time going to Kirkwood. It’s one of our friends’ favorite places, and now we know why. Although the weather conditions sucked, you can’t really beat how close everything is at Kirkwood. We stayed in a condo within walking distance to the lifts. With six young kids between the two families, that was huge. It’s also a little closer than South Lake Tahoe or North Lake Tahoe, and anytime you can shorten a road trip the better.

Unfortunately, this trip also included a visit to the ER. Even though there was no snow, there was a little patch of ice, and Olivia slipped and fell hard on her elbow. I didn’t see it, but I heard it. She screamed bloody murder, and it swelled up. Based on past experience with broken bones, we decided not to take any chances and I drove her to the ER 30 miles away. Luckily, we beat the rush, and an X-Ray showed no broken elbow. The doctor thought it was a bad bruise, and gave her the OK to ski if she felt up to it. The pictures show how quickly she recovers, and we hardly heard any complaints about said elbow after the initial accident.

This is not the first time we’ve had medical issues while in Tahoe. The first time, it involved Carrie. She was sick, miserable, and smelled. Yes, smelled. We couldn’t figure out where the smell was coming from. A trip to a Tahoe urgent care didn’t solve the problem, and only when we got home did we figure out what was causing the god awful stench. Actually, our pediatrician figured it out in about two seconds.

The Smelly Offender

Inside that specimen jar is a fuzzy ball. Carrie apparently stuck it up her nose BEFORE we left for Tahoe and after marinating for several days up there, it smelled like something died. No wonder she looked so happy in the after photo. I would have been miserable too with that stuck up my nose.

After our third skiing trip with three kids, we’ve realized a few things. It’s hard and no kid ever wants to carry his or her own ski gear. Ever. It’s expensive (Very expensive). It’s worth (almost) every penny and parental frustration.

The Great Soccer Battle

Olivia has learned that if she asks to do something, I will force her to follow-through, no matter what kind of tantrum she throws. This latest battle involved trying out for a spring soccer team.

Van and I were pleasantly surprised to see how much Olivia liked playing soccer. At 8, this was her first year playing on a team, and even though she was a soccer newbie and had to sit on the sidelines for nearly half the season due to a broken wrist, by the end of the season we saw a marked improvement. She must have figured out her soccer skills improved too because she told us she wanted to keep playing.  So when she came home from school earlier this week with a flyer advertising soccer tryouts, I asked if she wanted to do it. She said yes. I asked if she was sure. Once again, she vigorously nodded her head while saying, “Yes, Mommy. I want to do this. I want to do this.”  OK, kid you got it.

Of course when tryout day arrived, (yesterday) Olivia changed her mind. I think it had more to do with not wanting to get up off the couch where she had planted herself for a couple of hours, watching countless episodes of “So Random,” and “Good Luck Charlie” with her sisters. When I informed her she didn’t get to change her mind and had to get dressed in her soccer clothes, the water works and screaming started. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t fun. I screamed as much as she did. I finally told her that if she didn’t go to tryouts, this would end her short-lived soccer career. That’s when with lots of stomping and yelling she marched off to her room to begrudgingly get dressed. Van missed most of the theatrics, and looked utterly bewildered when he came downstairs to see his eldest daughter in a fit of rage. He also got charged with the task of schlepping her to the tryouts.

When she got to tryouts, she apparently transformed into a new child. Gone were the tears and tantrum, replaced with smiles and giggles as she goofed off with friends. As far as the tryouts go, well Van reported back that she seemed kind of oblivious to the ball. She’s far from a star player, but she likes the game. How do I know? When she came back, she thanked me, yes thanked me for making her go to tryouts. That almost made the earlier hysterics worth it. Almost. Did I mention she’s only 8? Lord help me once she hits her teenage years.

 

 

When Boring is Better

By all accounts, this weekend was boring, and I couldn’t have been happier. Beyond a couple of kids soccer games, we didn’t have any plans. I was as lazy as lazy could be. I didn’t exercise. Hell, I didn’t even shower, but I’m a firm believer you have to have a few weekends where you lie low. Yes, I know lying low is not part of my DNA, but it felt really good.  I can’t speak for the people who were within smelling distance of me, but the lack of hygiene for two days didn’t gross me out.

It gave me more of a chance to watch and enjoy, and of course videotape a future soccer star.

Look at that footwork! It doesn’t get much cuter than that. Only five and six year olds can pull off hot pink polyester soccer shirts and soccer socks.

In a perfect world, a perfect mother would have recorded Olivia’s last game too, but this imperfect mom was simply happy to have remembered the lawn chair. Last week, I had to squeeze my adult sized butt into a kid sized chair shaped like a rabbit since I forgot the adult sized one that had plenty of room for my backside.

The laziness continued with me planting myself on the couch while Van whipped up breakfast for dinner. Yep, a boring Saturday night complete with pancakes and a family movie night featuring Cars 2.  And it was awesome! I had fun. The kids had fun. I’m even pretty sure Van had fun too.

I’m writing this down to remind myself how good it can be when I don’t overschedule, and I just hang out at home. Not only does it make me happy, it makes the kids and husband pretty darned happy too.

I’m Officially a Soccer Mom

I don’t particularly like the term, “soccer mom,” but now that two out of three of my girls are getting their kicks on the soccer field, that’s what I am. As much as I may not like the label, I love that my kids are playing sports.

Plus, how can you not love a five-year old in a hot pink soccer uniform? While Erin may not have had a say in the color choice of her uniform, the stars and stripes soccer ball was all her doing.

Striking a Soccer Pose

Opening day was last Saturday, and for the next seven Saturdays if you want to find me, I’ll be sitting in my stadium chair cheering on the Pink Stars and Teal Seals.

Go Team!

I grew up playing softball, not soccer, so I’m not much of a soccer expert, but it’s ridiculously entertaining to watch a bunch of five-year olds running across a field trying to kick a goal. Erin is a polite player, not an aggressive one, so she’d rather let other players fight over the ball. We’ll see if that changes by the end of the year.

Since Olivia still has to sport a cast for a few more weeks, she can’t play, but she’s a team player so she supported them from the sidelines, wearing her oversized jersey and shorts.

As much as the kids like playing the game, I’m pretty sure they like the snacks as much, if not more than the actual game. We brought snacks for Olivia’s team, and you wouldn’t believe how much discussion there was about what to bring. Clearly they take after their parents when it comes to food.

I also hope they’ll take after their parents when it comes to a love of sports. I’m far from athletic, and even if the girls get my athletic genes, I hope they’ll develop a lifelong passion for exercise and sports. And as long as they’re playing, I’ll be cheering.

A Giant Day

Working in television news, I get a lot of perks. Just this week, I got to tour a San Francisco home on the market for the low, low price of $45 million dollars. You can click on the link to see what you get for that price. Notice you won’t see an updated kitchen and bathrooms for that price.

I also got to see this guy up close and personal.

Giants Relief Pitcher Brian Wilson

Yep, that’s Giants relief pitcher Brian Wilson and I was within spitting distance of him. He’s one big dude, and I’d fear the beard even if he was pitching to me. Now I’ll admit, I’m not a huge baseball fan. I like to jump on the bandwagon, and I took the leap just in time last year as the scrappy San Francisco Giants clawed their way to becoming the World Series Champions. That makes this year’s home opener a big deal, and NBC Bay Area devoted plenty of resources to covering the event. I was one of those resources.

One of my assignments was to go with photographer extraordinaire, Jeremy Carroll, and cover the raising of the World Champions flag.

Raising the Flag

That’s Jeremy in the lower left hand corner. This was just one of many of our jobs for the day.

The majority of the time, I helped field produce our Giants Opening Day coverage on our 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts, as well as our hour-long Opening Day special. It helps that I’m not a huge Giants fan because I had no idea of the score until about the 7th inning.

It takes a lot of work to pull off the coverage NBC Bay Area provided, and I was just a very small part of it. We had a lot of people working 12+ hours. In that time my co-workers put up a make-shift set outside AT&T Park,  set up lighting, pulled lots of cable so NBC Bay Area viewers could see and hear everything, shot a lot of video, edited that video, reported on the day’s event, and then broke everything down at 8 p.m. in very chilly conditions. The core group of guys who work on projects like this are like a well oiled machine. They’ve done this countless times, and they make it look easy. It’s far from easy though, and often it isn’t fun, especially when you’re forced to use a porta potty that is on the verge of overflowing.

In the end, it turned out to be a great, but long day. The Giants won over the Cardinals, (Sorry babe, your home team isn’t off to a very good start) and I got to be a part of  another great team.