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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fake Daughter & Real Son Go Shopping for College


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.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

What's Up Wednesday

I'm linking up with Sheaffer Told Me To The Larson Lingo and Mix and Match Mama for What's Up Wednesday today.

What We're Eating This Week

As our crazy baseball schedule/concession stand/bar food diet ended last week, we've been pretty good about eating healthier recently. We've also been really diligent about eating a ton of ice cream because while nutrition is vitally important, SO IS HAPPINESS. Speaking of, if you need a good reason to eat ice cream (as if there are any bad reasons) go to Dairy Queen tomorrow and they will donate to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. DO IT FOR THE CHILDREN.

What I'm Reminiscing About

That Facebook thing that shows "On This Day" photos each morning is killing me this month with all of our baseball memories. I've been reminiscing about my many summers with my many boys of summer. I'm going to need a minute (or a month) to get over the end of Little League.

#15 2011
#2 2012
#8 2015

Coach 2011

What I'm Loving

I got this weather app, WTForecast,  recently and it cracks me up. This is what it said Sunday afternoon around 5:00 pm when the humidity was at about 7,000% and I thought it would be a great idea to go for a run.

What We've Been Up To

The two youngest have been at basketball camp for the past two weeks, so it's given Joe and me an opportunity to spend lots of time together before he leaves in 23 days. (but who's counting?) We have done a bit of college shopping together and by "a bit" I mean about an hour total. Suffice it to say that shopping with a boy for college turns out to be about as exciting as clipping your toenails. He is maddeningly agreeable and pretty much says "Sure, Mom." to everything I pick out. There seems to be no interest in twinkly lights, monogrammed pillows or fabric covered bulletin boards. This was what we picked up on our one and only trip together to Bed, Bath and Beyond. Dear Fake Daughter: Can you even believe this?

What I've Been Working On

I'm working on trying to enjoy the slower pace of summer without the pressure I put on myself to be productive every minute of the day. I'm not great at "chill", but I'm working on reading more, getting in the pool with the kids more and just in general being still more. So I guess I'm working on not working.
What I'm Dreading

I don't want to say I'm dreading taking Joe to college because he's so excited and he's ready and the ability and maturity to start his own life with his own dreams is exactly what every parent wants for their kid, right? But I'm kinda dreading it.

What I'm Excited About

Our local swim team hosted a Swim-A-Thon for Kyle's Kamp to benefit Children's National Medical Center for kids with cancer last week. Mr. Hahne, Kyle Hahne and I got to go out to speak to the team and watch them swim for a bit. I was stunned that some of them swam for an hour straight which is about 58.5 minutes longer than I can swim laps. I get to attend their banquet in a few days to thank them for the money they raised. Kyle's Kamp continues to give opportunities for kids to help kids and I'm so grateful for it.

What I'm Watching

My friend, Nancy, suggested this documentary about a group of recent college graduates of Texas A&M who take off on an adventure riding wild mustangs from Mexico to Canada. All of my guys and I watched it together and really enjoyed it. It is a compelling story with breathtaking scenery, beautiful animals and information about the dilemma in the western states of managing the mustang population. Oh, and it's got Texas cowboys. What more could you want?

The Joy of Summer 2017 for me will always be Parks and Rec. This show has my whole heart. There is not one character I don't adore. And this episode when Tom and Donna go shopping was a real inspiration and quite timely as I watched it just before the Nordstrom sale started. 

What I'm Reading

I received this new devotional by Sophie Hudson - one of my favorite bloggers, authors and podcasters - over the weekend. It is written primarily with teenage girls in mind, but since I am often a teenager in my mind, I think I'm going to love it. This would make a great gift for girls going off to college.

Perhaps I'm in a state where I really need some devotion time because I'm also working through Consider the Lilies which I mentioned last week. It continues to be a true gift for me in this season of my life.

I started this novel last night and after only a few chapters, I know I will love it. I am so in awe of this author right now, I want to devour every book he's written. What a talent.

What I'm Listening To

I've spent an enormous amount of time in the car this summer. Podcasts are super helpful for making road trips bearable. I listened to a number of episodes of Shauna Niequist's Relevant Podcast and especially was struck by this interview with Dierdre Riggs. Then yesterday, I ran into a friend who was reading, The Road Back to You, and remembered this fascinating interview with its author. [For you, Meg! :-)]

What I'm Wearing

I haven't been too impressed with Gap in the last few years, but I stopped by the Gap Outlet recently and found some some really cute things for massively discounted prices. I bought this jumpsuit for 70% off. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find it online now, but please enjoy this selfie that I took to send to my sister. I had to cut off my head because I looked like a full blown idiot and can only bear to share a half-blown idiot with you, dear reader. Similar Gap Jumpsuits that are on sale and also an extra 20% off with the code MORE are here and here.

  I also bought this top

What I'm Doing This Weekend

For the 2nd weekend in a row we have not one thing planned. Not one sporting event. I don't know what universe we're living in, but it's pretty glorious.

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month

We'll have a weekend with my husband's dad's side of the family and I cannot wait as they are some of the most precious people in all the world to us. Then all of my Texas family - including the Texans that live in California - are coming for a week at Lake Anna and I am beside myself with joy about it. I never get a better night's sleep than when I can lay my head on my pillow and know that each of the people I love most in the world are falling asleep under the same roof. It's going to be magic.

What Else is New

Because of the fact that Joe has been less than thrilled about the shopping portions of our "Let's Get Ready for College" outings, I've had to entice him with lunches out. Yesterday, after a shopping trip that lasted about 16 minutes to get him some clothes for the cold winters in State College, PA, we ended up at Elevation Burger. I'm not sure how much longer I can expect to eat like an 18 year old boy and still fit into my clothes, but I'll keep at it because this time with him is so precious it makes my eyes sting with tears. Dear Summer of 2017, please slow down.

Question of the Month: What's Your Favorite Thing About Summer?

Having these knuckleheads around all the time. 

The Knuckleheads-Summer 2009

Monday, July 24, 2017

July Stitch Fix Success!!!

I spent most of the weekend going cross-eyed looking at all the things in all the categories from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I think I officially need a new contact prescription now. There is a lot out there and so many fashion bloggers giving advice on the best deals and their favorite picks. I've got my (quickly deteriorating) eyes on some boots, some wedges, 3 different totes, about 47 pairs of jeans, 8-10 tops, 2 bracelets and a pair of earrings.  All that to say, that I'm going to have to spend much of the day realizing that I do not have Oprah's bank account and do some serious re-evaluating of my online shopping cart. *sigh*

Speaking of fashion, though, I did get my new Stitch Fix Box right before the 4th. I have numerous friends who seem to love it and some who aren't impressed. After a couple of years of receiving boxes every other month, I'm still in the "love it" category.

My most recent box was perhaps one of the best I have received. I could have kept all five pieces, but doing the math and knowing that that pesky Nordstrom sale was right around the corner, I tried to be reasonable.

Here's a look at the loot.

Honey Punch
Luke Tassel Detail Knit Top

I love this top. One of my issues with my past boxes have had to do with color. I am fairly strict about the colors I wear. (fairly strict? That makes zero sense.) Anyway, I like black, white, blue and green. That's about it. No pastels, no orange, pink, or yellow and rarely red. This navy top is adorable. I am not a Spirit Wear baseball mom because one year I bought Spirit Wear and we had two quick losses and a mighty fast exit from the summer AllStar tournament. Clearly, this was the fault of my wardrobe.  For that reason, this top was an even more welcome addition to my summer baseball gear because red, white and blue were our team's colors and also 'Merica. This was a sure-fire keep.

Jeans/Shoes from Banana Republic many moons ago/Earrings/Similar Bangles

Skies are Blue
Nielsen Henley Top

I adore this top. Plaid is one of my love languages, so I wanted to keep it right off the bat. It is fitted at the top and flowy at the bottom, but not too much. It's really comfortable and perfect for the ridiculously hot summer days we're having. This was a keep.

Janie Embroidered Dress

This dress was so pretty. The embroidery was gorgeous. It was lined which is a must for a white dress and it fit perfectly. I love wearing dresses in the summer and therefore I already have quite a few. It was hard to let this one go, but as I received this just before our baseball tournament started, the white was giving me an eye twitch. It just didn't match my life in that moment. Even though I would have never worn it to a game, I still had visions of rusty brown baseball dirt all over it because somehow that dirt lives in my house for the entire summer no matter what. Sadly, this was a return. 

Marlayna Knit Dress

I was so excited when I saw this dress that I almost started singing The Star Spangled Banner as soon as I took it out of the box. I wore it the very next day to a 4th of July cookout. It is the softest fabric, and it fit perfectly. Best of all, it has pockets and as everyone knows pockets on a dress are evidence of God's unending love for us. I can't remember where that is in the Bible, but I feel like it is. This was a keep.

O + O
Rhett Hand Dyed Hooded Knit Top

This was a perfect lightweight pullover for summer evenings when the temperatures drop a bit. (Which by the way has not happened AT ALL here in Northern Virginia because apparently the sun is trying to kill us.) The 3/4 length sleeve is perfect, the hood is perfect, the stripe and color are perfect and the fit was perfect - not too baggy or bulky. The problem here was that just the week before I had purchased a pretty similar lightweight sweater from the Gap Outlet and I couldn't justify keeping this one. Had it come a week earlier this would have been in my closet for sure. Such a cute top, but I had to return it.

My Similar 3/4 Sleeve Sweater/Shoes/Jeans/Necklace/Similar Earrings  

So that's all, folks. I seriously could have kept all five items and if I had I would have received a 25% discount. I thought about it long and hard, but in the end I kept three. If you'd like to try Stitch Fix, I'd be so happy if you'd use my referral code. Gift cards are also available for Stitch Fix for Women and new for Men! Be sure to be specific in setting up your Style Profile and I think you'll have great success!

Have a great day, friends!

Friday, July 21, 2017

5 Things on a Friday: 7-21-17

Ya'll, I'm obviously on a roll because I've now written blog posts two days in a row. Also, I don't want to do anything but sit inside since it's 7,000 degrees outside. So, grab something with ice in it and check out some Friday Favorites!

1. Summer Dresses

When it is this hot it's difficult to want to put any clothes at all on your person, so a flowy summer dress is perfect. I received a new Stitch Fix box just days before the 4th of July and it was by far the best I've ever received, so I'll be blogging on that soon. They sent me two adorable summer dresses - one that was red, white and blue and perfect for the 4th. If you want to try to Stitch Fix, I am still a fan and recommend giving it a try. When I am good about giving my stylists comments and updating my style profile, they do a great job of picking pieces I love. Go here to sign up.

For Friday Favorites today though, you need to know that Old Navy is having a crazy sale: up to 60% off on dresses and then 30% off your order at checkout with no code needed. Here are some of the cutest I found at Old Navy.

This adorable thing comes in red also. It is $20.00 and 30% off that at check out. WHAT? If you do the math, which I don't feel like doing right now, I think you'll find that this dress costs just about nothing.

This one comes in a black pattern and a red one, also. $26.00. I can't even.

I feel like this is a dress that can be dressed up or down depending on your life. My life lends itself towards dressing down and I think this is so simple and cute.

PS If you didn't know, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale starts today. SQUEAL!!!

2. Summer Reading

While I haven't been writing a lot, I have been reading quite a bit. I finished Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics which was long and a bit tedious with the details, but worth it in the end. It's a wonderful story of endurance with great characters and fascinating historical events.

I'm almost finished reading Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott and am nodding and "amen"-ing and underlining the fire out of it.

My friend, Elizabeth Foss, has written a beautiful, insightful devotional called Consider the Lilies which has ministered to me in ways for which I could never thank her enough. It has been a blessing to me during a season of change in our family and I do not do well with change. I cannot give it a higher recommendation. The chapters are short, thoughtful and soul-settling. Get it.

As I finished and adored My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, I decided that this author, Fredrik Backman, is a must-read. Thanks to my friend, Jen, who lent me two of his novels, my next read is Beartown.

3. Summer Nail Color

My favorite nail polish this summer is OPI's I Saw . . . U Saw . . . We Saw . . . Warsaw which is not one of their new colors and hard to find but I ordered it from Amazon here and it showed up right away. It's a little darker navy than Keeping Suzi at Bay which is another one of my favorite blues from OPI. I found that one here.

4. Summer Appetizer

photo from

We spent part of the 4th of July weekend at Lake Anna hanging out with family, watching fireworks over the lake and eating all the things we could find. My sister-in-law made this amazing Wedge Salad Dip. I'm not sure where she got the recipe, but I found it 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.

5. Summer Jam

It seems that every summer baseball season there is a song that comes out and becomes the one that will always remind me of my drives to and from the field in a certain year. One year it was this. One year it was this and another year this. Now any time I hear those songs, I'm taken back to whatever players and whichever field we were playing on and I always smile. This year in our Little League tournament, our boys lost a game early. They lost it in a big, bad, ugly way. That left them in a position in the loser's bracket where they had to fight their way back, playing every single day to earn a spot in the championship game.

A revival of sorts is what happened and they did win three in a row to get to that final game, but ended up losing 2-1 in a heart breaker. (Apparently, that day's song should have been You Can't Always Get What You Want.)

In any event, on the way to that first game after the loss, I heard this brand new song from my very favorite band of all time, Third Day. I thought it was pretty appropriate, both for our little team of fighters and for my soul. Every time I hear it from this day forward I'll think of Drew and his last Little League team. (PS If you need any new songs for your running playlist, I'd suggest all of them.)

Wishing you a blessed weekend, friends, and if you're in my neck o' the woods, I wish you lots of A/C. Lawd, it's hot out there!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Summer Summary

Well, y'all. It's been a minute, huh?

I had no intention of going dark here on the blog for over a month. While I did do some writing this summer for other websites, I never seemed to be able to get myself back to this space. My computer was broken for awhile and then summer jumped in on me and life, as it tends to do, just got stupid-busy.

There was that surreal, utterly ridiculous moment when I suddenly became the mother of a high school graduate.


And then a few weeks later, there were the couple of days that I attended a college orientation as a parent instead of a student, even though I was way younger than those other parents there.


There was the time during the orientation when we got this view from the top of a parking garage of the Penn State football stadium. After Joe had googled and found that it was ranked 2nd largest in the country to Texas's Darryl K. Royal Stadium's 8th largest he said, "Hey, Mom. You must feel really cramped at DKR." He thinks he's hilarious, so then there was the time when I told him he might want to think about getting a ride home.


There was the week when I drove a gaggle of basketball players to Richmond, Virginia for a camp and back, and then a 16 year old to Bethany Beach, Delaware for a beach trip with his buddies and back and then to State College, Pennsylvania for the aforementioned orientation and back all in a seven day period.

I'm considering becoming an Uber driver.

Beach Boys

There was the 4th of July that fell on a Tuesday which meant that 'Mericans felt the need to celebrate for five nights in a row therefore transforming me into the owner of a dog who COULD NOT EVEN with the fireworks.  Also, I apparently felt like the best way for me to honor my beloved country was to eat all the things at all the parties and gain approximately 37 pounds. I only regret that I have but one more blown diet to give for my country.

He's totally fine.

There was the "trial week" when we prepped ourselves for Joe going to college as he went on a week long mission trip with our church working on hot tin roofs and hammering and sawing and such. Here's the verdict: We don't like it. Three days in we felt like he'd been gone FOREVER. I noticed that one of my boys will have deep conversations with our dog, telling him that he misses his brother. This makes his mom cry buckets, so I guess it's good he's talking to Mack and not me. But as you can tell by the photo above that dog might not be the most mentally sound member of the family, so I'm not sure how much psychological help he can give.

Joe on a mission in Sneedville, TN

And what else?

Oh, yea, well, there was a bit of baseball.

We topped off the last 6 weeks with - after twelve years - the final Little League Baseball Season for our family.

I'm not sure if you've read here for long, but let's suffice it to say that baseball, especially Little League baseball, tends to bring about SOME FEELINGS in the heart and mind of yours truly.




It will take me a little while longer to process said feelings. It's possible I could write an entire book on what the Lord taught me in the mere week and a half duration of a 2017 District 16 AllStar tournament. You can insert your eye-roll here, because PUH-LEASE, but all I can say at this point is that God finds me in the most ridiculously ordinary, seemingly insignificant details of my life.

He uses those instances to teach me that there is no such thing as small sin and big sin . . . that there is just sin and I was carrying a big ol' bowl of it that He never asked me to carry. He taught me that there is no such thing as the "good" Christian I was trying to be. There's just a Christian - sinful, broken and needy. He taught me of forgiveness, of redemption, and of the absolute fact that His will, and only His, will be done.

Mostly, he reminded me of His gracious, unwavering love that is present even when I do not deserve one lick of it. He answered a small, whispered plea in a way that was immeasurably more than I could have asked or imagined and just as assuredly answered another with a firm, "No, ma'am, not this time." He loves me in spite of myself and He adores the people I love, reminding me when things come to an abrupt end, that He can use anything - anything - to teach me the truth of the Gospel and to help me to fully understand what Jesus did for me on the cross.

Y'all. I admit it. It's baseball. It's just a game. It's so weird to talk about how God works on my heart through a dumb game. But our God? Well, the pleasant way to say it is that He's a mystery. In other words, a big weirdo. It is truly stunning to me. More on that later, I think. Or maybe not.

Either way, Little League has given us so much more than hundreds of 6 inning games. Immeasurably more. I will never get over it.
That's a wrap.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Walk Off

(Warning, Dear Reader. This post is utterly indulgent and dramatic and sappy and full of emotional mommy moments. You might roll your eyes or shake your head or want to never read here again because GET A GRIP, LADY. IT'S JUST BASEBALL. I'm having a moment. A few moments from now, you can rest assured, that I will be yelling at this kid to hang up his towel, stop leaving his nasty shoes every where and get off the couch and walk the darn dog, for the love.)

As a volunteer in the pediatric cancer community, I understand to a very, very small degree what is a true, final ending for a parent. Although as much as I can try to empathize, can sit in a pew at a child's funeral, can pray and listen and hug a grieving mama, I will not ever really understand that ending unless it happens to me. I know that. And through all the feelings I've had as these milestones for my oldest come and go - the random tears while I'm at Subway about to order him the same sandwich he's always wanted or as I watch elementary school children cross the street or stumble on an old photo - I am consistently reminding myself that these feelings of loss and yearning for the past are temporary, not in any way truly tragic.

But feelings are feelings and moms have lots of them. I read once that you don't have to feel guilt about your sadness just because someone else has it worse anymore than you should shrug off feeling happy just because someone out there has circumstances that might warrant greater happiness. So I let the feelings come and then pep talk myself right out of them.

You can imagine the big bowl of crazy it has been to live with me lately.

So the ending showed up in heartbreaking fashion for my first boy's final high school baseball season. We blessedly were able to extend the season by a few games, take some road trips, cheer some amazing plays and hits, cross our fingers and toes, pray some prayers, high five and hug and marvel at how we held a team - one that very few outside of our players and coaches and fans thought we had a chance to beat - scoreless into extra innings. So when the end came with our opponent's victorious walk off hit and a final score of 1-0, I braced myself to watch my player's own walk off.

I stood near the fence, peering out over the dugout and I am astonished at how vividly I can remember certain moments and how hazy are others. I remember all the jerseys over all of the years. We had Braves and Rockies and Dodgers and Pirates and Red Sox and Loudoun South All-Stars. Eagles and Bulldogs and Eagles again. I remember a diving catch he made playing 1st when he was maybe eleven when he came up looking shocked that the ball was in his glove. I remember him tagging that crazy fast guy trying to steal 2nd in an All-Star game at a crucial moment when he was twelve.  I remember him botching more than a few catches and striking out more times that we can count as well. I remember the golden year he and his little brother played on the same team when Kyle was pitching and he whispered encouragement in his ear, patted him on the butt and trotted back to his position. I remember the fact that he desperately needed a haircut his sophomore year but refused because surely that would break his hitting streak. I remember the dirt stains that wouldn't come out and the smelly cleats and the falling asleep in the car on the way home from tournaments. I remember sending him out the door to climb in the truck with his dad for practice only to have him return seconds later to grab the oft forgotten water bottle off the kitchen counter. I remember how easy it was to pick out his voice among a chorus of boys shouting encouragement and silliness to their teammates from the dugout.

I could sit here for days remembering, but ain't nobody got time for that. There's a bigger game to be played now. Over countless baseball seasons, we saw him succeed and we saw him fail. There are well more failures than successes in baseball. This is why I'm grateful for the influence of this game in my boys' lives because this is what they will face in all of their future days.

As there were in baseball, in life there will be those who are better than him. There will be those who are not. But if his first eighteen years are an indication, he will stay humble in success and hungry in the face of disappointment. He will keep swinging. He will pull himself up off the field, wipe the dirt off and hustle back to the dugout to await his next at bat.

As he came off the field he indulged his mommy and walked straight into her arms. He is not my pudgy faced tee baller any more. As shaving was not an option while the team was still winning, my little boy's whiskers scratched my cheek and he sighed and sniffed. Then he walked straight to his dad and did the same. And I knew.

The walk off of the field is not the ending. It is the beginning. It is time now.  It is time to walk on. The path is wide open.

I love you with my entire heart, #8. From home plate to the centerfield wall. I have loved watching you play and I am grateful every moment for the chance to continue to be your biggest fan. Walk on.