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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

If You Take a Boy to Bed, Bath, and Beyond . . .

Originally posted August 2017

Well, we are exactly 16 days away from packing up my son and taking him to college. It's had me contemplating the differences in being the mom of a Real Son compared to the mom of a Fake Daughter. If you're new to my blog, I should tell you that in my real life I am the mom of three boys - blessed, grateful and fully in love with being the mom of three boys.

Still, I'm a girly girl, so Fake Daughter is a figment of my imagination who occasionally appears here in my writing. I have come to realize that the good Lord gave me sons because He knew I probably wouldn't be able to deal with a Real Daughter. As such, I have created Fake Daughter and made her perfect:  non-argumentative, yet opinionated, stylish and classy, tidy and helpful, smart and compassionate. Basically, a joy to be around every minute of every day. She agrees with me on all topics because she's fake and I made her up in my delusional head.

Anyway, as the two youngest Real Sons spent the past two weeks at basketball camp, this gave me some quality time with the oldest Real Son. I had set that time aside for college dorm room shopping so that - because his mom is right on top of everything - he will have the most successful first semester of college that the world has ever seen. These weeks together would be full of laughing and lunches, Starbucks and selfies. It was going to be awesome.

In preparation, I had read through 342 different articles titled "The 10 Things Your Kid Really Needs for College", "The 125 Things Your Kid Needs for College", and to be safe, "Don't EVEN THINK About Getting These Things For Your Kid for College". Also in the reading queue:  "The 10 Things To Say When Your Kid Leaves for College", "The 10 Things NOT to Say When Your Kid Leaves for College", and also, "Eleventy Billion Reasons You Should Totally Reconsider Leaving Your Kid at College"

I got in my full-on shop 'til you drop mentality and decided that we would hit Bed, Bath and Beyond first. A brand new one recently opened only a few miles from our house. (OH, THE LUCK!). Then we'd grab some lunch and head over to the mall for some new clothes. Later, we'd go to REI for a really good winter coat and boots because apparently Pennsylvania's weather does not mess around.

I was so excited about our day that I was about to come out of my shoes. Clearly, Joe was super pumped about it as well because when I gave him the day's itinerary he said, "Sure."

I mean, that's what he said, but I'm pretty sure that on the inside he was all:

In contrast, from the get-go Fake Daughter was all:

(and so was Fake Daughter's Friend who spends a lot of time with us because she has a bad home life and I am a stabilizing force for her.)

When we got to Bed, Bath and Beyond, it was the stuff that Fake Daughter's Dorm Dreams are made of. There were strings of twinkle lights and bedazzled pillows. There were fabric covered bulletin boards and all manner of frames. There was twine that we could string above her bed with clothespins holding photos of her best friend who happens to be me, of course. We considered something called a Majestic Canopy, but decided that it was too pretentious. (Let's not forget that Fake Daughter is humble and grounded.) We have a vision. More or less this.

Fake Daughter and I ordered monogrammed pillows for her bed. We looked at seven different comforter sets, made a pro and con list (with brightly colored pens on a notepad), narrowed it down with a commonly agreed upon criteria and, in the end, decided that we needed to go to Pottery Barn or maybe Target or maybe Home Goods or maybe all three. We just needed to stop for a quick bite to eat some organic salads and papaya infused green tea first. Then we'd simply need to hit a few or twelve more stores.

I mean, this is a big deal. What kids don't want to spend hours on end shopping and making the most informed decisions they can about bedding with the woman who gave them life?

I'll tell you who.

Real Son.

Meanwhile back in reality, his first question as we walked into the new, clean, glorious Bed, Bath and Beyond was "Can't we do this all online?

He aimlessly followed me into the first section dedicated to future college dorm dwellers. I pointed out that "surge protector" was on at least 95 of the 100 "Essentials" lists I had seen which is about the most boring thing I've ever heard in my life.

He said, "Gotcha." and picked up the first surge protector he saw. It was white and plastic. I thought there might be a grey/white chevron fabric covered one, but no luck. Real Son also grabbed a package of Command Hooks. White and plastic.

Things started to look up as we walked toward the bedding section and I said, "What do you think of these two navy comforters? They're similar, but this one has a red stripe detail and that one is more like a grey stripe."

Real Son says "Sure."

"Sure what?"

"Sure. That one." He is basically pointing at the air.

Later I said, "You need a laundry basket. That blue one is too bright. I like the navy better. Don't you?

"Yea," he says grabbing the bright blue one.

At this point Real Mom is all:

In the end this is what we came home with after shopping trip number one:

After Bed, Bath and Beyond we found our way to food which was not organic and drink which was not infused with anything but carbonation and aspartame. Real Son was not made to go on hours and hours of shopping trips. He can take about 20 minutes in a store and then he needs to know where we're eating. 

In the next few days, I took additional trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond on my own. We ordered a coat from REI online. He did accompany me to the mall one day where we spend about 10 minutes buying him some jeans and the rest of the time eating burgers and sharing fries. 

For the remainder of those two weeks, we got some of his dental and medical appointments out of the way, he did some chores around the house for me, picked up his brothers at camp when I couldn't and worked on final paperwork for college. I didn't force any more bonding experiences or shopping trips. We went to some movies, ate some more food and basically hung around the house. 

I wouldn't trade this Real Son for all the Fake Daughters in the world. Our reality is not nearly perfect, but it's pretty sweet. Unfortunately, no matter how much we mamas try to grip tightly to our realities, we cannot control or manufacture the way they change and grow and even move away. It doesn't matter if I buy all 10 of the right things to send him to college. It doesn't matter if I say all 10 of the right things. In the end, my son will have to look to the God we taught him about and to himself to create his own, unique reality. He's going to be just fine.

Even without a monogrammed pillow.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

6 Years Later: Dear Gavin . . .

6 years ago today, Gavin Rupp, a 13 year old baseball player from Ashburn died after a battle with brain cancer. As Gavin played on teams in both Dulles Little League and NVTBL, his story was well known in the community. I knew of Gavin because of the effort these leagues and Kyle's Kamp, a pediatric cancer organization, made to get the word out to support him and his family. There were rallies and fundraisers. Local players wore ribbons and dyed their hair in support. Gavin's #15 was painted on dugouts and fields across the area. All night after I heard that he had passed away, I lay awake, tossing and turning, crying and praying, and sneaking in to my boys' bedrooms to watch them sleep and hear them breathe. Mostly I was thinking about his mother - a woman I didn't know, but who today is a dear friend. I wondered how we could make sense of the senseless and what we would tell children who had prayed so earnestly. And personally, I feared what would become of my faith, so bruised and battered as it was that night. At 3:00 am I got up to write this piece. Perhaps some of our NVTBL readers have seen it over the years. I read it every year to remember that night and the things that I think God wanted me to hear from Him. Every year, I have to forgive myself for having days that I have forgotten those lessons that I thought I'd never let slip, but I also marvel at how much my life and the lives of my children were changed by a boy we never really knew.

So today, we ask you to remember a baseball player you also likely never knew. We ask you to please pray for the Rupp family. While time might dress wounds up and make them less gaping and garish, it certainly doesn't heal them. Grief and hurt and shock remain. Especially today. God bless you, Gavin Rupp. You are never forgotten. 


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Baffled Behind the Plate: Things I Still Don't Get After 15 Years as a Baseball Mom

School is finally out here in Northern Virginia which means we've officially started Summer Travel Baseball around these parts. Summer baseball is similar to Spring baseball except that it involves significantly more sitting in traffic on I-95, more fast food, more sweating, and more overnights in Hampton Inns where I lie awake wondering if we might have embarked on a scientific breakthrough because it seems like my son is growing a new strain of bacteria in his cleats.

It occurred to me as I sat at the sixth game of the weekend at a field in Rocky Mount, North Carolina that this was my 15th summer of watching at least one of my kids on the diamond. You would think it would follow that I would be an expert in baseball knowledge. Surely, I've seen every game situation and strategy, every type of coach and umpire, every manner of fan, and every  level of ball player. There couldn't possibly be a single rule or circumstance surrounding the game that would confuse or surprise me at this point in my life, right?


At just about the same time as this thought entered my head, there was a call on the field that left me looking pretty much like this:

The good news is that I wasn't alone in my confusion. I'm not throwing anybody under the bus, but in my experience there can be an equal amount of bewilderment during certain situations in a baseball game by both moms and dads, and even coaches and umpires. (Don't tell anyone I said that.) Thankfully, there always seems to be at least someone who eventually figures it out or at least speaks forcefully enough to convince everyone. In general, I just nod my head and pretend I understood all along. But here's the thing about a whole bunch of rules and circumstances involving America's game:

So if you find yourself only a few seasons or fifteen seasons into being a spectator of this game and you still seem baffled at times, I'm here for you. I'm going to give you my most up to date list of things about baseball that I still don't understand and likely never will after 15 years of watching the game. They are things that have surprised me and confused me. They have left me shaking my head in wonder and sometimes just plain flat out frustrated me to no end. Some of these things have been explained to me over and over and I'm still in the dark.  Here goes.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Moving Mountains

I have prayed so many prayers for you. Late at night, early in the morning, while I'm running, while I'm driving, while I'm drying my hair. I prayed each and every time you were sick whether with a stomach virus that landed you in the hospital or with a sore throat when you were away at basketball camp. I've prayed on each first day of school whether you were clinging to my leg with tears in your eyes or bounding out the door to pick up a friend with barely a wave good-bye. I've prayed when you've been on snowboards and on wakeboards, in airplanes and on ski boats. I've prayed for every tryout, every night out with your friends, every SAT test, and every single darn time you were at the foul line. So. many. prayers.

Most often I suppose I was praying for God to make the path easier. I wanted Him to get all the obstacles out of the way. I wanted Him to protect you from harm and help you get what you want. I have tried really hard to pray simply for His will to be done and for you to rise up to meet it, but generally I throw in what my will is for your life. You know, just in case the Creator of the Universe needs some ideas on how things should go down for you.

I suppose, in effect, I've asked Him to remove mountains. And I am certain He has done so a million times over. I'm sure that He has protected you from things I cannot even imagine - things that I never even knew to mention.

But what I have seen as I look back on your eighteen years is that so many times, He did not remove the mountains. He left them there - big and looming and seemingly impossible to climb.

But your God is so much wiser than your mama. When I prayed for Him to give you an easier path, He instead gave you courage and wisdom and confidence and faith. He left those mountains right there and then He let you figure out how to go up against them.

And you have figured it out. You've never backed down. You've changed your mind, set your path, and followed your heart, even when I winced and worried and fretted. Time and time again, in a zillion different ways, I've watched you stand right up against the mountain. You've found the way up and kept climbing. And often times you stared that mountain down. You've juked it and gone around it before anyone knew what was happening.

You've gone up against some pretty big mountains even when your mama was cowering in the corner saying, "Don't do it!". Thank goodness He made you braver than me.

So after a whirlwind of a senior year, we've arrived at graduation. We'll laugh and cheer and celebrate you and your friends and in two short months we'll send you off to Tennessee where you will start the new path God has for you, literally in the shadow of the mountains.

And your mama will continue to pray. I will pray that you will know that I am forever your biggest fan and that I believe in you - not only because I'm your mom, but because you have proven that facing a mountain is perhaps your favorite place to be. You are worthy of our faith in you.

But I know that there will be challenges, so I will pray that when you are far away and things seem hard and you feel alone that you will look up at the mountains in the backyard of your university. And that you will remember how many of them you have conquered already. And that you'll know that the sky above them is the same one that your mama sees and that the God who created them is the same One who has been there all along. And I hope that when you need to be brave that you'll be absolutely clear in knowing from whom your strength comes. And I pray that you will ask Him for it because He never has and never will fail you.

Keep climbin', kid. I love you to the mountaintops and back down again.

"I lift my eyes up to the mountains -
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord.
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip-
he who watches over you will not slumber."
-Psalm 121:1-3

Friday, May 31, 2019

5 Friday Favorites: May 31, 2019

Happy Friday, Friends. 

It's time for my Friday link up with A Little Bit of EverythingGrace and Love, and Momfessionals

On Fridays I share things that made me happy from the week - a photo, a song, a quote, a beauty product, a recipe, a pair of cute shoes, etc. If it's a product, sometimes it's something I actually own and sometimes something I just saw online that gave me a smile. Sometimes it's serious and sometimes it's silly. I suppose I believe that God is in the simple details of life and yes, I can even find Him in a tube of lipstick. 

1. Give me all the Rompers

I think we might need to designate 2019 as the "Summer of the Romper" because there are gazillions of adorable rompers out there right now. Loft has a ton of them and most of them are between 40 and 50% off today. I actually bought this one awhile ago when it was on sale and didn't feature it on Friday Favorites because it sold out right away. Now it's back in limited sizes and not on sale, but maybe it will be soon.

I love this striped short one, but it's problematic because whoever designed this seems to have forgotten about the bra situation. Bummer.

Here's another short one that looks so comfortable and you can still maintain your decency and wear a bra with it. It's originally $89.50, but 50% off today.

I absolutely love the hem on this one. It's 50 % off.

2. Find You Here by Ellie Holcomb

I'm pretty sure I have featured this song on Friday Favorites before, but it's worth a mention again because when I'm shuffling through the music on my phone it has shown up at exactly the right time for me, so many times. I suppose that's how God works. :-) I remember listening to this in the first week that Joe was away at college when I was a mess of emotions. Last summer I sat in my car in the parking garage of a hospital as one of my dear friends underwent surgery during her fight against cancer and listened to it. Just last week, I repeated the words to myself when I found myself waiting for a doctor to come in to read the results of an unplanned mammogram and ultrasound. (All clear, by the way). I will listen again this week as I face the launching of another kid out of high school. I'm so glad this song pops up so often to remind me that I will find Him in every situation, every single time. He simply never leaves us.

3. Random Internet Laughs

I'm not sure I stopped laughing for a full twenty minutes after seeing this meme this week. I still can't stop laughing. Hooray for funny internet people. 

4. Smells Like A Citrus Grove Cleaner

Listen. I know what you're thinking. You're feeling really sad for me because I picked an all purpose cleaner as one of my five favorite things of the entire week. Do not knock it 'til you try it, sister. Also, I just noticed that there are 94 reviews on for this cleaner and it's got an average of 4.5 stars which means that there are a whole lot of other folks out there finding joy in counter cleaner as well. I guess this is a testament to the fact that the Lord will not leave us alone in our sadness. It smells so amazing that I want to spray it all over my house all the time. Your people will think you lit one of those crazy expensive Anthropologie candles, but alas, YOU DID NOT. ONE DOLLAR AND SIXTY-NINE CENTS!!!!

5. The Graduate

I imagined, foolishly, that going through high school graduation a 2nd time would be easier. Like, maybe I wouldn't cry at random times. Or maybe I wouldn't spend crazy amounts of time looking through old photos. Or maybe my stomach wouldn't clench at the thought of not getting to nag him in person every day. Or maybe I wouldn't replay the million moments that I want to get back over and over again.

Guess what?

I saw that author and podcaster, Lisa Whittle, is in the same exact stage of life as I am. She's launching her 2nd kid into the world and she put it this way:

"Someone asked me if it got easier the second time. All I can offer is this stupid analogy which I recommend none of you try it home: hit your big toe with a hammer twice and tell me if it feels any better the second time. You may know more of what to expect, but that's about it."

Yes. That pretty much covers it. For more wisdom for moms of graduates from Lisa Whittle check out her Instagram post here.

PS. I wrote a devotional for Arcola Methodist Church here if you're interested. Give the sermon a listen as well!

Have a great weekend, Friends. Lock up those hammers.

Friday, May 24, 2019

5 Friday Favorites: May 24, 2019

Happy Friday, Friends. 

It's time for my Friday link up with A Little Bit of EverythingGrace and Love, and Momfessionals

On Fridays I share things that made me happy from the week - a photo, a song, a quote, a beauty product, a recipe, a pair of cute shoes, etc. If it's a product, sometimes it's something I actually own and sometimes something I just saw online that gave me a smile. Sometimes it's serious and sometimes it's silly. I suppose I believe that God is in the simple details of life and yes, I can even find Him in a tube of lipstick. 

1. Wedge Salad Dip
photo from

We've had a full week of heat and sun here in Northern Virginia which makes me deliriously happy and looking forward to cookouts and eating on the porch and by the pool. I featured this recipe that my sister-in-law made last summer for Wedge Salad Dip and I think it's time to whip it up again. I'm not sure where she got the recipe, but I found one here. It is so good.

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 packet dry Ranch dressing mix
1 1/2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup cooked bacon, crumbled
2-4 oz. blue cheese crumbles
1 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped

Combine cream cheese, sour cream and Ranch mix. Spread into bottom of 9-inch pie plate or similar pan. Top with lettuce, tomato, bacon, blue cheese and chives. Serve with these chips because I said so. They're the best.

2. Kimonos From Amazon

I've seen a lot of fashion bloggers featuring clothing they've bought on Amazon which seems sorta sketchy to me. From what I've seen the quality is hit or miss. I haven't purchased anything yet, but I saw this kimono and I think it is so pretty. They also seem to offer somewhere around 7 million other patterns and colors and they all cost between $10 and $16. This might be worth a shot.

3. Jaylene Stripe Sleeveless Linen and Cotton Shift Dress

I really, really want to wear this shift dress today, but alas it is not in my closet. There are three cute striped patterns and it is adorable and perfect for sitting on the deck and eating Wedge Salad Dip.

4. Burt's Bees Cleansing Oil
I've been obsessing over skincare for about the last 3 to 4 years and I now have my skincare routine down to about 37 steps. Just kidding. Kinda.

Here's a pro-tip, to my sweet, young friends in their 20s and 30s: Start obsessing now. Don't wait. You're welcome. 

Anyway, as I have mentioned before I get most of my tips from Jamie Golden's Instagram stories because she knows about all the products from high end to low end. Jamie taught me the importance of the "double cleanse". At night to make sure all of the make up, sweat, and dirt are completely washed off, she suggests an oil cleanse first and then a second cleanse. I found this Burt's Bees Cleansing Oil and I really like it. I use it first at night and then use Cera Ve Hydrating Facial Cleanser for a second cleanse. 

I'm not saying my face looks like JLo's, but it smells really good and doesn't break the bank, so there's that.

5. Lauren Daigle: Look Up Child

I can't remember if I've ever featured this particular Lauren Daigle song on Friday Favorites, but even if I have it's worth another mention. I simply cannot get enough of the entire Look Up Child album. Her voice is unbelievable and the lyrics are so hopeful. Listen to this one today and then go listen to all of them. This might be the best full album I've heard in a long, long time.

Have a beautiful weekend, Friends. I hope it's sunny where you are!

Disclosure: The View From Behind Home Plate is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn small fees by linking to Post might contain other affiliate links as well.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Dear T-Ball Mom . . .

For most of the last 10 years or so, my Mother's Day weekends have been spent at various baseball fields shuffling between three different kids' tournaments and games. This year was different. My boys are now 20, 18, and 14 years old and I have only one ball player left standing in my family.

So it was that I woke up on Mother's Day weekend this year to a very quiet house. By 10:30 am my 18 and 20 year old "boys" were still asleep and my 14 year old was in Delaware with my husband at a tournament. I decided to go for a run and about half way through passed by the neighborhood t-ball field where all three of my children each played their very first games. There are no dugouts at this particular field so I watched a team of kiddos sitting, standing, lying down, and doing head stands (as you do, of course) along the 1st baseline while five or six parents tried to corral them into a straight line to await their turn at bat.

With my second son set to graduate high school in a few weeks, I've been a little emotional lately. I mean I suppose it depends on how you define "a little" actually. I'm not sure how one would exactly classify the emotional health of a woman who stops running dead in her tracks at the t-ball field and stands on the sidewalk with tears running down her face.

Realizing that the more I stood there wiping my nose and face the closer I was to commencing into a full-on wail, I decided that perhaps I should be on my way. And for the rest of my miles, I ran along having a conversation in my head with myself . . . the self that I was about 15 years ago as I sat at that very field watching a five year old swing at the tee while I held a three year old in my lap and grew a baby in my belly. I wish I could sit down next to her today. I'd make sure she had enough saltines and ginger ale and a bag to puke in if things got bad. Then I'd tell her a few things that she doesn't realize about her next 15 years.