My daughter and I recently hit the road and headed to Texas.
It wasn’t too far into our trip that I declared “I don’t want to eat at any chains on this trip.”
If you’ve followed the Chicks for a while, you know we try to support local and small businesses as often as we can, so no chains seems right up that alley. But it was early the next morning when I had to add an asterisk to my “no chains” rule. I made exceptions for chains that didn’t have locations anywhere near our home. And so, bright and early, I started a trek to a coffee chain I had heard about called Dutch Bros.
Dutch Bros. is one of those chains with a cult following. There are secret menus. Collectible sticker days. IYKYK kind of stuff. Thankfully, at 5:30 am there was no line, so I had plenty of time to quiz the bubbly young woman at the order window.
I’ve weaned myself from coffee sweeteners and even cream for the most part, so this would be a treat. My favorite holiday drink is a peppermint mocha, so I ended up with a Dutch Bros. toasted peppermint bliss cold brew. My second drink was an Americano with soft top. If none of these make sense, check out the Dutch Bros. website. I also accidentally ended up with a hazelnut truffle mocha.
All were deeee-lish. Positive messages on the windows and the drink tops. And the woman at the window was a total gem! Win all around.
Yes, it was a chain, but still something completely new and different. Get out and explore and try new things, wherever you may be!
I had a match to play on a Friday night after a long weekend with my partner. It was a little cooler outside than normal and it was late. I wasn’t really sure if I needed pants or a skirt. Long sleeve or short sleeve. The evening seemed so wishy washy.
I started dressed in layers. I slowly peeled them off. One cheerleader arrived. Then two. Then three. Then four or five. It was overwhelming in a way but good in another. So many folks came to cheer us on. The unfortunate part was we were doing awful. A comedy of errors was leading to poor performance.
Down by one. By two. By three. Four. Five. And then it was 6-0. Just like that we lost the round. We were stomping our feet. There were some chuckles. Some apologies. Some cursing. Some blaming. Some frustration. Some smack talking. It was still a game so onto round two we go.
It was a bit closer but we just couldn’t seal the deal. Deuce. Add out. Deuce. Add in. Deuce. Down by one. Down by two. Get it together ladies was the theme of the evening. More uh oh moments. More you should have hit that. More why didn’t you move fast enough. Is this really happening? Four to zero. Five to zero. Let’s get this one.
We ended the day with another 6-0 finish. The goose egg. The other team skunked us 6-0 and 6-0. I am sure it’s a first for me not to have earned a point but as you can see above I still laughed hard. A deep belly laugh. No matter how down in the dumps you are performance wise, you can still laugh it off and be light hearted. We had so much fun sucking today. We let our friends see us at our worst. We will hit the repeat button again tomorrow as we saddle up for a new match on the same court. Will history repeat itself? I hope not. If it does, I guess I’ll have to take another walk of shame.
Losing is part of competing. Losing gives you a taste of humble pie. Losing gives you opportunity to grow. Learning lessons about loss is important. Every true athlete knows this. In the moment and after the sting subsides. The work starts again. Train harder. Think smarter. Challenge yourself.
It’s even funnier to lose when you realized you signed up a level higher than you should have. I guess one will see if we can get better playing at a higher level even if a lot prematurely. I have grown to love tennis. It’s an easy way to get some exercise. It has the competition element. It’s fun with friends. It’s cool shoes and cute skirts some days too.
We are in year 10 or 11 of my daughter playing lacrosse. From the little kid beginner leagues to top-tier national tournaments in front of college scouts, she has competed at nearly every level. Many of our summers have been organized around lacrosse travel. It has taken us from the New York to Colorado and many states in between. We have had joy and laughter and lots of learning. Extended car trips have given us loads of time to connect.
She is a great lacrosse player. She may not score a ton of goals, but she excels at her position which often helps set her team up for success. She is a leader.
At some point in the last year, she decided that playing competitive lacrosse in college was probably not her path. She has had opportunities and offers, but never really followed through on them. She likes to play a lot of different sports and doesn’t want to eat, breathe, and live lacrosse in college.
It has taken me time to get my own ego out of the way and listen to what she is telling me. She highlighted this revelation in her college essay. Stepping back from all-lacrosse-all-the-time has helped her appreciate both lacrosse and other parts of life like travel and other sports she enjoys. Stepping back doesn’t make her any less of an athlete. It just means she knows what she wants and the life of a division-level athlete isn’t it. She has her heart set on our amazing state school, and we are waiting to hear if she gets in. In the mean time, we both know this may be her last go around with lacrosse, and as a senior it is definitely a farewell year with many of the girls who have shared her path along the way.
One of her wishes for this fall was to play a couple of “fun” tournaments with her friends. They are all amazing athletes and naturally want to win, but for this, winning wasn’t really the main goal. They didn’t really want to practice. They wanted silly outfits and giggles. They wanted to coach themselves. They just wanted to pick up and play the sport they love. So my job became to make that dream happen.
Weeks of planning. Most of these girls have played together at the same school across a number of years, but a few extras helped round out the roster…a couple of freshmen who were looking for a team, a friend who had moved to another district. After the roster, we started on the details….a cheeky, punny team name: “Halloweeners.” Goofy custom tie-dye shirts with unlikely numbers on the back (how does the ref call 911? 8008? Infinity? Pi?) Silly socks. Then the girls added funny face paint and onesies / costumes / tutus and we were the merriest band of misfits taking the field that Saturday. Even the refs smiled at our names and could see how much fun they were having.
I got to be the adult on the sideline, but I wouldn’t know how to coach them really. They took care of all that. They laughed, they complimented each other, they pointed out things to work on. They fought like hell during the games and laughed like hell during the breaks. It was pretty awesome to witness the level of positivity these girls shared with one another. They trusted each other and gave their best. Every single girl had moments of brilliance. After four wins they lost to a respectable team playing high level lacrosse in semi-finals. No one hung their heads. They had a great day.
As we got in the car to head home, I asked my daughter if she had gotten her wish? She said yes. It was fun. It was friends. It was laughter and low-pressure. Since she knows she is not committing to college lacrosse, this is her time and her group to enjoy the sport she loves.
A surprise picnic. The weather wasn’t great. We didn’t even really know the area. The option to hike it in would have been too much to carry.
A friend scouted a park with a pavilion. We wandered in tandem with the vague directions we had, then finally stumbled on the spot.
The coolers, tucked in the back of the jeep for hours, and boxes and bags were ported out. Then the spoiling began.
A white tablecloth was the foundation. Topped by a fall-themed tablecloth with muted hues. Draped with care over the metal picnic table. Then, fancy bamboo plates and utensils. Yellow napkins folded at each place. Then, the finishing touches…jewel-colored velvet pumpkins that later doubled as party favors / remembrances for each of the women there. A fall candle bought brand new for the occasion, glowing and sharing a hint of apple scent. A table worthy of special guests. Even out in the middle of the soccer fields and playgrounds. Then, a build-your-own lunch spread courtesy of Trader Joe’s. Nothing too fussy. Just nibbles to try.
In recent years, I have grown to love surprising people…not in the sense of surprise parties, but more about delighting people with over-the-top unique details. Whether it be decorations, unexpected custom cookies that match their party theme, party favors that make people giggle, artist-created invitations, or a meal fit for a queen, it feeds my soul to make people feel special and make occasions memorable. People are worth celebrating.
This also extends to presents I may drop on porches on a random Tuesday. Life is a challenge for many. Why not make people smile?
I hope when they pull out that pumpkin each fall they smile and remember a great day, and someone who cared about them enough to plan something special. Spoil people a little sometimes. They are worth it.
Alarm set: 5 am. I did not want to wake up on a Sunday sleep in day at this hour. Quick shower to wake up. Reality hits. Starbucks isn’t open yet. Arrived at the planned meeting spot for 6 am. Party of six women off to adventure the unknown. Two know the plan. Four only know it’s a surprise. A packing list was assigned. Car shuffle occurred. 2 cars head out with random people assigned to each. Off we go. Oh wait I forgot to lock the car. Back we go and the caravan is broken immediately. Are we lost?
We are not exactly lost but we are a bit behind. Glad we went back to grab my purse as I had left the car unlocked. Potty break in car two. The car that started out behind added to their delay. It’s about an hour into travel, And we just completed our first car ride activity. Mad libs virtual edition. We each filled in the blanks and did a FaceTime chat to share answers and giggles. One might have been raunchy while the other one family appropriate.
Now the downpour starts. Visibility is low in the car. Our activities are supposed to be outside. Will we survive the weather? The packing list called for a poncho and change of clothes. Who actually planned to use them? First stop was breakfast and the coffee art was a big hit. The food was good too, but the coffee art won me over.
Off we go to the next stop. Lula Lake, Tennessee was the destination spot. Only open a few days a month to the public and we were on the list for today.
The first view was the mini falls into a nice pooling area. The picture doesn’t really do it justice but it was breathtaking in person. As we left this area the downpour came. It was like buckets and buckets of rain drops. We were drenched but it added to the fun of the day.
The main event was the big water fall. It was beautiful from the top with the mist and the fog but the real amazing view was at the bottom. A little wet from the rain but the mist of the falls sprayed you when you were up close. It was an experience to say the least.
A lot of wet fun was had on the hike but we then ventured off to the park for a cute fall picnic. Thank you to Trader Joe’s, a ton of fall delights that we all grazed on. Some pumpkin spice hummus, a tasty charcuterie tray, everything but the bagel chips, pickles, moist cinnamon bun cookies, pumpkin white chocolate brownies, nuts, pumpkin flavored seeds, green goddess dip, pumpkin granola bark, cranberry chicken salad, spinach and kale yogurt dip, chocolate almond spread, crackers and so many more treats. It was a feast of sorts in the park. I am so ready for my next picnic. Anyone can make the best of a cloudy day.
Hopefully you are not hungry after reading this but I am in a food coma thus I must end this post right here.