Saturday, December 28, 2013

It Is The Thought That Counts

Our son became a teenager this year.  People warned me, "Watch out when he turns thirteen, he's going to forget where he left his brain."  Three days into thirteen, he placed his cell phone, his almost-new iPod in is favorite skaters hat, left them on a desk at school and {POOF}, they were gone.  I had this sick feeling in my stomach that it was only the beginning of what our friends had warned us about.  Eleven and twelve were a constant challenge.  There were days that if I saw his eyes roll in his head one more time....... Somehow at thirteen, that ├╝ber-annoying habit faded away!

I have been a life-long tea drinker.  For some time now, I've dreamed of opening a tea room.  Whether that dream will ever come to fruition, I always am on the hunt for an old advertisements or tea tins, that someday will become part of the decor of my tea room.

My in-laws recently retired to Connecticut, in an area loaded with antique shops.  We found a favorite one, the type of place that has a little something for every antique collector, or the casual shopper who can't resist it's treasures.

Last Sunday, after visiting the in-laws, we stopped there on our way out of town.  It's called the Clinton Antique Center. After a few minutes of looking around, my husband informed me that our son would like me to go sit in the car.  It was accompanied by one of those looks that I should just do it, you know the kind, the one that has a cryptic little smile with it.  Okay!  I needed a minute to pay for a tea cup that I had been looking for. Then I was nestled in the car with my own little smile on my face, wondering what my boys were up to.

It wouldn't be long to wait and wonder.  Christmas morning revealed three lovely little surprises in the forms of two antique tea and one antique cocoa tins.

My sweet, funny, and yes, occasionally irritating 13-year-old, went in there with a mission.  He wanted to give me something that he knew I would love.  Something that I would look at and think of him.  Something to help my dream along a little bit further.  He put thought into these three gifts, but moreover, he put his heart into them.

Case in point that it really is the thought that counts.  What a lucky Mum I am!

My Christmas presents were the Monarch Tea, the Boston Tea and the Monarch Cocoa tins. 

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The Death of Personal Pride

There is a curious phenomena that has me flummoxed.  I've noticed a trend on Facebook, for the last couple of years that I just don't understand. 

It's this trend of, "I want something, help me fund it."  I'm a photographer by profession and there is always something new and exciting that comes out, a new body, a new lens, a new lighting system.  More than once I have seen people post a Go Fund Me, or an "event" on Facebook, asking people for money to help purchase their latest want, be it a camera body or a cosplay outfit.  I don't get it.  These are wants, not needs.  These things are not life and death requirements. 

A few years back, two friends within a matter of days both suffered fires in their homes.  Fires that left them without a place to live, without furniture, without clothing.  Good people started Go Fund's for these friends and I was happy to help them.  Their basic necessities of life were gone, they needed help. 

When I broke both of my arms nearly four years ago, we were thankfully insured.  Insurance paid for most of my expenses, but at the same time there were still deductibles and co-pays to the hospital, to specialists, to physical therapists and the pharmacy.  Because of how complicated insurance reimbursement policies are, we waited out making the final payments to the hospital to see what was covered and what wasn't.  In all, close to $1,500 was not covered by insurance and had to be covered by me.  Being a stay-at-home mom means that we need to watch our budget, and so I got on the phone with the hospital and made a budget payment plan with them to pay for these expenses.  It was a lot easier to pay them $100 a month and they were happy to be able to get their money any way possible.  I never in my wildest dreams would have asked people to pay my medical expenses, I had too much personal pride.

Yet, people put themselves out there, asking for money for something that isn't necessary to their vital existence.  When I see these posts, I can't help but think, "Don't you have any personal pride?"  What happened to earning the money, saving the money, waiting until you can afford your want? 

It seems that personal pride is a dying virtue and that saddens me to no end.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Little League Baseball

This year marks the fifth year that our son has played little league baseball for the town.  Every season has been distinctly different on different levels, from coaching to getting to know the players to the families that sit out watching each and every play.

Last year, our son's team won the division championship.  His coach taught them the game.  He would not only instruct them how to do something, but explain WHY they were doing what they were doing.  By the 3rd or 4th game, all the parents knew who all the kids were and knew who each other were.  Games, no matter how good or bad they went, were fun for everyone.  The boys on the team would cheer each other on, they would call out plays to each other and were involved.  For us families, we would laugh and commiserate with each other.  When a kid would get hurt, and it happened, everyone was worried about everyone else's kid.  At the end of the season, when we were going to the championship round, the league scheduled practice time at one of the fields.  Instead, our coach opted to have a pool party & cookout at his home for the boys and their families.  He felt that would be more of a team building experience for everyone, and it was.  The boys who were already close, had a great time playing, joking and being kids with each other.  A few days later, they would be celebrating with shouts, excitement and yes, happy tears with one another.  We as parents all clutched each other in the final innings of the season, agonizing over plays, but all the while, remaining positive of the team and of individual players performances.

But as many professional sports coaches will say when a new season starts, "Last season is history.  Now it's about THIS season."

This year is decidedly not the same. It's a different division first of all.  The coach is a nice guy, but he doesn't seem to really be into his role as coach.  He tells the players what positions to play and what batting order they should be in, but there is not a lot of coaching going on.  He isn't really interested in getting to know the kids or what they can or like to do.  That's disappointing.  He doesn't get the kids excited to be playing baseball.  By the end of a game, they all walk out of the dugout with their heads hung and not saying much.

Moreover, the parents aren't all that interested in being cheerleaders for the whole team.  They will say something loud when their kid comes to bat or makes a play.  There is no camaraderie among families and players.  What there is, however, a lot of negativity. 

The other day I listened to a mother expounding on how these boys aren't trying hard enough.  She was loud and I know a couple of times players looked over at her, and the people she was talking at were embarrassed.  Sadly, none were so embarrassed to correct her or stop her diatribe, or even ask her to keep her voice down.  I thought about saying something, but decided to focus on being that parent who cheered the kids on, loudly.  Yeah, I'm that mom.  Yesterday, our son got to play his favorite position, catcher, for the first time this season.  He's a bit rusty, no doubt about it, but he was giving it his all because he was happy.  He didn't throw a cut-off ball quick enough in the mind of another parent.  She proceeded to start talking smack about my kid.  I would like to see her make that play as fast as she thinks it could be made.  I sat there with my fists clenched in my lap with my back to her and biting my tongue.  I knew if I turned around and said something, it wouldn't end well and I would be that parent on the evening news being banned from the little league fields for life.  Another mother whispered, in a fantastic stage whisper (and I'm sure with a gesture in my direction), that I was the catcher's mother.  I turned and gave the woman a huge smile.  The kind of smile that says, "I heard you.  And if you open your mouth again, I will cut you."  Needless to say she was not negative about my kid again, sadly she was about other plays and players.

I found this picture on the internet and truly believe that it should be posted on every little league field the town has.  Change Cardinals to Major League Baseball and the sign would be perfect.

It saddens me that people can't enjoy this for what it is, a game and do everything in their power to make it a positive experience for everyone.  I can't do anything about the coaching.  But I can be a positive force from the stands.  If more people acted that way, a loss wouldn't be such a devastating thing for these kids and everyone would have a better time for a couple of hours out of their day.
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