celebrations, family

The Owl Series

This series isn’t your ordinary owl story or two. This will be a series for the years to come. It’s the beginning of documenting the path to college athletics and what happens along the way. The good. The bad. The in between. All of which is solely from my vantage point. The outsider looking in. The fan girl view. 

Will there be success? Failure? Injuries? Accolades?

Will this be an initial destination or a long term commitment? 

How hard will it be to balance academics and athletics?

Will the love of the game continue to flourish?

The story started years ago. A dream. A belief of you can be who you want to be. Hard work. Practice. Travel. Tryouts. New friends. Old friends. Enemies. Encouragers. Coaches. Mentors. Motivators. Cheerleaders. Sprains. Strains. Bruises. Hours and hours of training. Eating smart. Saying no to some events due to games early the next day. All of which made her who she is today. Every experience helped shape her. Every risk paid off. She did the work. She beat the odds. 

I can literally say I’ve been with her every step of the way. Now I see her standing on her two feet ready to conquer what’s ahead. Proud is an understatement.

Strong. Charismatic. Determined. Confident. Smart. Athletic. Talented beyond words. She made her choice. She decided to be an owl. It wasn’t an easy decision either. She weighed options. Many options had pros and many had cons. What would be the best overall? When she made her choice she committed in grand fashion. A cool graphic on social media started it all.  A tweet from her travel club followed. The college gave a wink. A nice spread in the local paper was an added surprise. As an owl she will begin to take flight. Her flight to her destination(s).

She will continue her athletic career as a Division 1 athlete. What an accomplishment. A female division 1 collegiate athlete. It’s a celebration to make it to this level. I couldn’t be prouder of her and how she handled the grueling process. She stayed true to herself. She went far but ended up near. Sometimes you need to see what’s out there before seeing that you have what you need closer than you think.

She learned to be interviewed. She learned how to interview others. She learned a little about negotiations. She learned what is official and unofficial in the athletic world. She forged her own path. She is now beginning a new journey with her new teammates. The teammate relations began with text and other mediums. The group is “chatting” which is somewhat of a honeymoon phase to get to know each other and build rapport.

The team logos are making their way into the wardrobes. The thought of what’s next is on the horizon. Everything from who you are now to future roommates to major course of study selection is on the chat feed. The hard part is done but now so many more new experiences are on the horizon while still wrapping up existing school and sports obligations. And don’t forget keeping her image squeaky clean. This is a big responsibility. 

The first out of state meeting took place for 8-9 young ladies on this same journey. Some competed against each other. Others just socialized. Multiple states represented. New personalities drawn together by a sport they love. A sport I have grown to adore myself. Although I didn’t participate, I celebrated the opportunity for her silently. So much is ahead and I can just smile knowing she will grow during this experience. And so this owl story has begun, but where will it lead and what will I choose to share in the years ahead?

I will continue to write about the owl adventures as they evolve. Not sure how frequently this will happen but it will happen when I feel led to document something. Until then know I’m practicing my best owl sounds and thinking of how I will find a way to like the team colors.

celebrations, family

Whirlwind Weekend

My youngest daughter joined a college club lacrosse team. One of the fun parts of this is travel. First up: an away play day in Nashville that just so happened to be my birthday weekend. That was an easy sell!

It was harder to find a traveling companion. Close family and favorite travel buddies couldn’t make it for one reason or another. I was kinda pouty until just a few days before, when the daughter I was going to watch figured out she could stay with me. We traveled to Nashville separately, but after her games we were able to spend the rest of the weekend together.

It was a whirlwind weekend of packed with fun. I had most of it mapped out before we met up. I started with morning coffee at Dutch Brothers, a perennial fave. Longtime readers know that I love to visit local coffee shops on my travels, but Dutch would be an exception. It’s a national chain, yes, but there isn’t one anywhere near my hometown. I can’t resist their positive energy or their soft top!

Then I found my way to one of the Five Daughters Bakery locations, which happened to be tucked in to a cute local marketplace. Most of the shops were closed at that early hour, but there were still some fun murals and photo opps. A handful of their hundred-layer doughnuts and I was off to the next destination.

After that, a super quick visit to Cheekwood to catch a glimpse of their fall pumpkin festival displays. I was the first one through the gates that morning, and more than likely the first to leave in time to make the start of the lacrosse games. Still, it was soothing and smile-inducing to see the beautiful plants and festive surroundings. I’m sure I could have spent a whole day there, but even just that small sliver of time made me feel lighter and carefree as I welcomed my favorite season of the year.

After lacrosse, we made a quick visit to a Nashville food hall with a close family friend. It had live music and a wide variety of local eateries – something to please everyone. Then we spent Saturday night on a “touristy” thing by visiting the Grand Old Opry. Pretty classic Nashville, but my daughter had never been. It was a great variety show, even if we hadn’t really heard of any of the acts. Wonderful entertainment. (An evening at the Bluebird Cafe is still on my Nashville wish list! Didn’t get tickets this time but I’ll keep trying.)

After the show, we drove about an hour to Cookeville. This brought us close to the next morning’s adventure, a kayak to Burgess Falls. The paddle was low key and not too technical, but it was pretty long. The scenery was pretty and then it was a short hike to the falls since the river waters recede a bit in the autumn months. The bottom of the falls are only reachable by kayak or hike, which made the view all the more sweet.

Time with my youngest becomes more precious each year as she moves through college. Long car rides leave time for us to chat and catch up. We talked this time about how, as time goes on, we’ve learned that we would rather have fewer things and more experiences together.

Just like my older daughter, I can hear that her dreams will take her to live in faraway places in the coming years. This makes these experiences and memories all the more sweet. Time and attention (and shared adventures!) are the best gifts we can give one another.

adventure, family

College Is Fast Approaching

9 weeks on the road this summer. From Florida to New York and everything in between. Then for giggles clear across the country to Oregon. Sometimes the same route more than once but with different stops along the way.

Travel by plane. Travel by car. Travel by train. Travel by RV. We utilized Uber. We took advantage of Turo. We took many unconventional paths. We lived so much through our experiences. Turo and Uber were our app-worthy summer accomplishments. We even had some time to use bikes. So many memories. So many hiccups along the way. I wouldn’t change a thing. 

Good company.

Great experiences.

Countless fun.

So many photos.

It wasn’t always easy, but it was always workable with a positive attitude and a lot of flexibility. Work. Play. Recover. A delicate balancing act for some. A day in the life for me. I will never get to hit rewind on these months I just lived. Knowing that made me forge ahead to cram as much into the calendar as as humanly and financially possible.

Sometimes I had to plan and then re-plan. Things didn’t always go smoothly. I lived. I learned. I outlasted. Summer 2022 is in the rear view. So many college campuses were scouted out. Many highs. Many lows. Some visits at the surface level while others more in-depth. The process is real. The decisions are hard. The challenge is ahead.

My youngest will choose soon. Where to go. What she wants to be as an adult. I will become less needed. I will be an empty nester. A title I don’t really care for but yet one I will look forward to at the same time. As I earn that new title I will embark on new journeys and adventures. Maybe not criss-crossing the county in a summer but maybe exploring cities I’ve never been or getting back into putting stamps on my passport.

I’m adjusting to what’s ahead while enjoying what’s in front of me. Years become months. Those months turn into weeks. Before you know it, days are in front of us. Don’t waste the minutes. Value them. Cherish them. Enjoy them. I know I am.

As my mom always says: live life to the fullest. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.

For now I wait for the day to come that she decides where she heads off to beyond her days of high school. Close by? A neighboring state? Across the country? Another country?

family

Guess the Smell

It’s 7 am on a Sunday. Time to hit the field for day 2 of a tournament. You are in a hotel that thankfully has a bedroom and an open area meaning there is a room with a door that closes. You remain on the open space side for many reasons.

At 7 am you open the door to bedroom to gain access to the bathroom and poof. You are immediately stopped in your tracks with the smell. The scent of sweaty socks. The aroma of a uniform that baked in the heat the day before. The lingering stench. Oh so awful. 

These items are doused with spray to make it another day in the heat wave. On the same body that drenched them with sweat the day before. What will the outcome be at the end of today? Let’s start with a dripping wet uniform and socks that must be immediately removed and placed in a bag to be sealed and put in the trunk for the entire ride home. 

You see the car ride is a whole 12 hours from this tournament. The stink must be contained or we may possibly die of the fumes while in motion. Let’s also note this is not just the uniform and socks. I have yet to get to the bag. The bag which was in the car all night that has cleats and turf shoes in it. One pair is new one pair is old. It simply doesn’t matter. Once the shoe is worn once the stink is embossed in the shoe. Another level of nasty. The foot stink of an elite athlete. Is there anything worse?

I thought my brother’s hockey bags were bad as a child. I thought my gym bag was awful growing up but I have met a new level of gross. My child’s sweet nasty funk. The lingering stink that will turn your stomach. The nasty uniform that you must retrieve from that sealed bag to launder. The socks that were new but now look like they have been worn for weeks without washing. Can bleach even help?

At my house we use laundry detergent. We use bleach on the items that can be bleached. We then use a sports powder to soak away the nasty and it does as the water definitely turns black or grey. We trust in Downy to freshen up what it can. We move on. We repeat this numerous times over a 10 week summer season. Over and over again as somebody thought it was a good idea to use the jersey for games as a pinnie in practice two days a week. 

That means that poor stinky jersey sits in the nasty gym bag fermenting for two days between the weekend of games in which it is then sealed in a plastic bag. I don’t know how this jersey doesn’t grow mold. This is such a disgusting topic but one I know I’m not alone with.

Stinky shoes. Stinky feet. Stinky jersey. Is there a reward with all the stink? I think not. However, I have the pure joy of watching my child do what they love at an elite level while chasing dreams. When I put that perspective into the mix I undoubtedly say the stink is okay with me. Although I will be fumigating my car and anything in close proximity to the infamous bag or uniform pronto.

No deep breaths today. Lots of mints in my mouth to inhale the scent of mint to get through yet another day. What’s your worst stink story? Can you relate to my stinky experience? Can you smell this post?

author moments, awareness, family

Taken

Sometimes things get taken away from kids, teenagers, and sometimes adults. Maybe for punishment. Maybe for a break of sorts. I’m sure there are plenty of reasons to hit pause on items or things or maybe people.

In the past seven days I lost communication with somebody very close to me. The first thing taken was the Snapchat streak. It might not seem important to some but the duration signifies a time period of connectedness. Random to some but important to us.

The next thing that seemed to slip away was the sight of a smile. The connection of where our eyes met each day. The partnership. The little nuances only we know. The physical connection whether in person or virtual.

The backup plan was taken. We watched each other’s pets when each other had conflicts. We covered car pools. We shared burdens. We backed each other up. When one of our dogs would run off the other’s phone number was on the pet tag. Only I lost my ability to call. I lost my backup.

Breakfast visits. Laundry pit stops. What’s in the fridge visits. I just stopped by to say hi.  I just decided to drop by with coffee. Want to meet at the game? All taken. Gone. Vanished. Obsolete. A new lonely sets in your heart. 

Sometimes we take advantage or complain about what’s in front of us and don’t really appreciate it until it is no longer there.

Take note today. Breathe deeply. See what’s around you. Be aware of your good friends. Support those who support you. Be present.

You never want to feel the empty I felt this week as I adjusted to my new normal.

The military can be a great option for some and it can be lonely road for others. Today my family falls into the lonely road category. Timeframe is unknown but the missing time has already begun. Of all things taken I miss time the most.

Time together

Time to chat 

Time to laugh 

Time for us 

Time to be free

Time creates memories. Time is captured in pictures. Time is so very valuable. Time really can’t be replaced. Time away triggers feelings for many around us. Time belongs to the military when you enlist until your time commitment has ended. And for some time can be extended if certain instances such as a time of war or other conflict. As a civilian I never really understood military time as it didn’t apply to me directly.

As I wrap up my day, I still feel lonely. A week of time has passed, but I’m not better. I may even be bitter. I want what was taken but I can’t have what I want. Not now. Not in the near future. Patience is what I am practicing today, tomorrow and beyond. Shifting from civilian to soldier is taxing for not only the soldier but also their loved ones.

Gas prices might be soaring. There may even be conflict overseas. The price of groceries are high. Supply and demand issues  lurk as well. For me my conflict is here with me. Front and center. A daily battle. Just a mom missing what was taken; her son.