Monday morning started off with me warning the kids that the time may have finally come for us to say goodbye to our longtime canine companion, Murphy the Pug. She’s 15 years old.

pug life

Pug life. Respect.

All three of them got to see me wipe away buckets of tears on the way to school. You see, my husband and I have had Murphy (he named HER after Dale Murphy despite the fact she’s a female) longer than we’ve been parents to our human children.

  
She had continued to eat like normal, but for roughly four straight days, her water bowl had remained untouched.

She was also acting a lot more lethargic and uninterested in her normal activities. She had gotten sick and had a few accidents (but, if I’m being honest, Murphy’s had random episodes of both over the past year because she’s an old lady who tends not to care what others think of her behavior).

Google “pug personality traits” if you think I’m being facetious.

Doesn't she look so sad? I took this picture to shove in my husband's face when he inevitably questions the vet bill.

Doesn’t she look so sad? I took this picture to shove in my husband’s face when he inevitably questions the vet bill.

After booking an appointment with our family vet and taking her for what I feared was our last slow walk together, I sat by her side on the couch and let her know it was ok for her to go if that’s what was meant to be.

I had to put her brother-from-another-mother down several years ago and I’ve never quite recovered from that experience. Murphy and I had come to an agreement, after we had to say goodbye to Eightball, that she was to pass away peacefully in her sleep when the time was right so I wouldn’t need to go through that heart-wrenching decision ever again.

Miraculously, at the vet’s office, her blood work showed no signs of impending doom. Her kidneys were not failing like I had feared. I learned by talking to the vet, in between sobs and sniffles, that he had to put his own dog down that very same day. Rarely have I felt more comforted and understood than I did by him in that moment.

Fast forward to today. Murphy is like a Timex watch – she takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

She’s not happy with me for making her leave the comfort of her Dora coach for follow-up care, and we continue to monitor her behavior, but for now…my heart remains whole.

Murphy in her favorite lounger.

Murphy in her favorite lounger.

Written by Heidi Woodard

Let me be the first to admit, I’ve learned to tame my competitive nature over the years and make the sporting experience more about my kids than myself. I like to say I’m a work in progress.

I’ve recounted My Moment on GiveTheGameBack. I remember that critical point in time when I realized I need to reevaluate why I was at the ball field supporting my child and have subsequently changed my mentality and approach to the GAME.

However, prior to that moment, there was an episode when I behaved less than ideally in front of my children. I think it’s important to explain (not justify) my past behavior to let you know that I, like everyone, learn from my mistakes. For those who refuse to admit ever crossing the line at a youth sporting competition in the name of your budding athlete, I counter with two thoughts: 1. I bow down to you and your self-control and 2. I don’t believe you. (not even for a second)

There we were, the Woodard family, back in fall ball several years ago: me, my husband, and our three children.

Allow me to set the stage. The “regular season” for baseball in the Midwest runs from late April to early July. Fall ball, in terms of scheduled games, lasts half the total duration but feels like an eternity to suffer through. The number of teams competing is less, the quality of competition isn’t always as great, and the double-headers that typically round off an otherwise restful weekend are grueling.

OK, I fully admit I am already making excuses, but bear with me.

My oldest was only 10 at the time. Ten-year-old boys can best be described as fourth grade, 4-ft somethings, with less than laser-like focus. While they all generally have an interest in winning, the majority of them compete in fall ball to hang out with their buddies. (Coaches will tell you it’s because the boys want to stay active and improve their game in the off season.)

My son’s team was down by at least a half dozen runs and, in 10-year old baseball…especially fall ball, that’s a deep valley out of which to climb. It was late in the game so they ran the risk of losing by the “mercy rule” (which they might as well rename the “parental sanity rule”). Definition of the “mercy rule”: Once a team is up by 8 runs after 5 complete innings over their competition, the game is automatically over.

My son’s teammate managed to make it to second base…probably on a wild pitch, or just a normal pitch since few 10-year old catchers are strong enough to throw out a runner stealing second base.

It was very late in the game and the chances of my kid’s team mounting a comeback were slimmer than Kim Kardashian going a full day without snapping a selfie. Not high. You get the picture.

Low and behold, I hear the opposing team’s coach yell out instructions and then see the pitcher throw to the short stop at second base in an attempted pickoff play. When the pickoff attempt didn’t work, instead of tossing the ball back to the pitcher, the short stop walks it to the mound.

I instantly knew what was happening. The ol’ hidden ball trick. I knew what was going down because I’ve pulled that same play in my college alumni game against the current players.

If you’ve never seen the hidden ball trick, watch the YouTube clip below.

My son’s teammate assumes the pitcher has the ball, takes his normal leadoff, and falls for the play (because he’s 10!) as the opposing team’s short stop tags him out, much to the amusement of their coach.

Here’s a confession: If I was that kid at shortstop (or anyone else on that opposing team), I would have thought that was the greatest trick play ever.

Because I was not that 10-year old shortstop and was instead the mom of one of the boys getting their butts kicked by a team coached by a dad who cared more about trick plays than teachable moments, I didn’t find it quite as amusing. And I let him know about it. I think my exact less-than-mature-and-not-very-thought-out words were something like this:

GOOD JOB, COACH! WAY TO PERFECT THE HIDDEN BALL TRICK! YOU MUST BE SO PROUD!

(Lame, I know. But I’ve never been the best at articulating anger.)

If your team is only winning by one or two runs and it’s the championship game, you could probably make me understand your rationale (even if I don’t agree with it). When you are about to run-rule another team, I don’t buy your excuse.

Not to be outdone by a loud-mouthed mom, the coach in turn had one of his players steal home in mid-pitch when they were up to bat next.

I just shook my head and thought to myself, “What a (insert male body part) move.”

But here’s the thing, I was no better than that coach that day. I ran my mouth from the stands and it didn’t make the situation any better. Luckily, my son never heard what I yelled, but that didn’t make me feel any less foolish in hindsight

Their team still lost. My son wouldn’t have cared that much about the game’s outcome because he’d already been competing in sports (even at the age of 10) for a few years and he learned that, in sports and life, you win some and you lose some.

If I ran into that same coach today, I would freely admit to being as crazy competitive as he is, and I would hope we would share a laugh together. I’d tell him that he should check out what I’m trying to do on GiveTheGameBack.

And when he’d be pulling up the website on his phone, I’d sucker punch him when he wasn’t looking and yell out TRICK PLAY! as he was attempting to regain his breath. Kidding…I would only contemplate doing that. I am working on thinking before I act these days.

Written by Heidi Woodard

No rest for the weary

April 28, 2015 — 4 Comments

I’m 38 years old, but I may as well be 83 based on my body’s inability to fully recover from a girls’ weekend getaway.

The Woodard ladies comprised roughly half of the entourage.

L to R: Me, my mother-in-law, and my three sisters-in-law comprised roughly half of the total entourage.

My lovely, much younger, sister-in-law Kristi is getting married in June. In true pre-wedding fashion, a large group of ladies gathered together for one last hoorah for the single bride-to-be.

We landed at a popular, central destination spot to celebrate – Kansas City, MO. There we soaked in the city’s attractions, including the Power & Light District, various breweries, a Pedal Hopper party bike tour, and the best sushi place the city has to offer.

Pedal Hopper

Pedal Hopper injuries are legit.

All of the bachelorette party goers – and I mean ALL of them – are awesome people, which makes me look forward to the big wedding day even more. The 2.5 days we spent together flew by in what felt like 2.5 hours because of the Maid of Honor’s attention to every single detail.

Speaking of 2.5 hours, that’s roughly the amount of time I napped on Saturday afternoon following Friday night’s festivities. I don’t go to bed at 2 AM frequently enough (thank God!) and my lack of training made it nearly impossible to bounce back…yet bounce back I did on Saturday evening.

Much of the weekend is now a blur, thanks to lack of sleep, some specialty drinks, and the most amazing pudding I’ve ever tasted in my entire life (NO it wasn’t laced with anything illegal…it wasn’t that kind of party). I am a big fan of making people laugh so, fortunately for me – and in particular my back – the mechanical bull was out of commission at the last bar we visited.

I gave Kristi a two-sided necklace that has her maiden name engraved on the side that faces her heart and her soon-to-be new last name on the side that faces outward. I feel that it’s very important for married couples to remember that they, as individuals, are as important on their own as they are as a pair. I feel like this is something I’ve learned throughout my 15-year marriage to my husband. We haven’t tried to change one another, just compliment each other.

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There was no rest for the weary when I got back into town Sunday as I had two of my son’s baseball games to attend. So while all the youngins could lounge and recharge after returning home, I was busy cheering on a bunch of 11-year old boys. I’m now nursing a nasty sore throat as a result, but I don’t regret a single second of my time with friends and family.

You only live once. If you’re asked to join a rowdy bunch to celebrate a special occasion, don’t ever pass up on the opportunity. I was reminded this weekend how blessed I am to be able to sneak away with the women I love and to return home to the family I love.

Written by Heidi Woodard

I watched someone in my office building being whisked away last week by EMT on a stretcher to the nearest hospital. She had come into work like any ol’ normal workday and, a few short moments later, had her chest exposed while random strangers were doing rhythmic compressions in an attempt to save her life.

I don’t personally know this woman as we work for different companies, but I recognized her because she and I eat in the same cafeteria on the first floor of a multi-story building. I’ve had her on my mind for several days. As of Friday, I had learned she was breathing on her own after having been without oxygen for an extended period of time. And after this weekend, I’ve learned she is able to sit up in bed.

While I have no doubt she likely faces a long road to recovery, it seems that miracles do happen.

Prior to this incident, I planned on sharing my thoughts about a school assignment given by a third grade teacher in Colorado to her students. It’s been passed around through various social media platforms under the heading “I Wish My Teacher Knew.” If you haven’t already heard about these powerful testimonies, check out the story here and here.

I wish you knew

There are a lot of things that I wish the people close to me knew. There are things I wish the people I barely know knew.

I’m not a big fan of funerals. In fact, I really detest them. But the one thing that I take away from every funeral I attend is the feeling of love. Love from the people who gather to memorialize the deceased. It is both beautiful and gut-wrenching to hear people talk so fondly of the person who is no longer here with them in physical form.

I know I’m not the first to think these thoughts, but why do we tend to wait to tell the people we care about how we feel about them until they aren’t with us to receive the message?

Below are some of my I Wish My (fill in the blank) Knew messages if you’d like to read them. If you feel so inclined, I would encourage you to add your own in the comments section or just share them directly with those you care about.

Don’t wait to tell people how you feel about them. Nothing in life is more important than love and relationships.

I wish my husband knew that I feel grateful and not always deserving to be loved so deeply by him.

I wish my oldest child knew that I think he’s a lot like his dad, which explains why he both inspires and infuriates me. And that I know without a doubt that he can surpass his goals. I wish he knew how much his future excites me and how I enjoy watching every second of it unfold.

I wish my middle child knew how brave and kind I think he is for always thinking about others before himself (his siblings being excluded from that general rule of course). And how I fight back tears knowing he will always give me a genuine hug and smile no matter how old he gets.

I wish my youngest knew that when people say that she looks and acts just like me, it fills me up. I wish she knew that I look forward to her loud, unapologetic laughter every morning when I first wake up and her soft, deliberate storytelling every night before I fall asleep.

I wish my dad knew that I still look up to him to this day and always will.

I wish my mom knew that not a day goes by when I don’t count my blessings that she is still in my life to guide me.

I wish my sister knew that I love her for introducing me to rock music, snow skiing, and softball. (But I still don’t forgive her for chasing me around the house with her clarinet while blaring the theme song from Jaws.)

I wish my grandparents knew that I still miss them and everything they stood for.

I wish the entire family I married into knew that I had no idea when I said “I Do” how much they would shape my life for the better.

I wish my super close friends knew that I don’t tend to have that many of them and that they are one of the rare few because they are understanding, funny, patient, kind, and have pushed me beyond my limits.

I wish my dog knew that I never want her to cross the rainbow bridge, but when she does, I want her to look after our other dog because I have no doubt he’s still stupid in heaven (and I say that lovingly).

I wish my coworkers knew that I want them to consider me a good, reliable colleague. And that I recognize there is more in each of us than the professional hats we wear and more that defines us beyond the four walls in which we interact.

I wish my children’s teachers knew this.

I wish my kids’ coaches knew how much of an influence they are leaving on every young life that they touch and that I am thankful for every moment they’ve chosen to invest.

I wish those of you reading this right now knew that I write as a way to release my thoughts when I can’t always verbalize them. You taking time out of your day to read this means a lot to me.

I wish God knew I still rely on him.

I wish the woman who suffered a heart attack last week knew that I am thankful she survived to live another day.

Written by Heidi Woodard