Archives For childhood

I have been told by several of my well-intentioned female friends over the years that spa days are necessary. I will never argue that a day of pampering doesn’t feel amazing, but I generally feel guilty spending money on myself in an effort to relax and recharge.

Last week I played a little sand volleyball. Anyone who has known me for more than a handful of years knows that I love playing that sport, even though my vertical jump and reactionary speed are all but nonexistent these days.

Perhaps the only thing I’d rank higher in terms of recreational enjoyment than my love of sand volleyball is my love of sleep. Again, all of my friends know (and tease me about) this. I’ve required a restful night of shut eye ever since I was a child.

Whereas some people can survive on five hours of sleep a night, I require more like nine in order to function. The good news is I’ve never been much of a partier/night owl so catching extra those zzzz’s has rarely been an issue.

Put it this way: If I had to take one survival item with me on any of the survivor-type reality shows, I’d be hard pressed to think anything would be more useful than a good set of ear plugs.

Why do I spill these seemingly unrelated personality quirks? Because one person cares about, dare I say honors, all of them more than anyone else. My mom.

I’m at a stage in my life right now where I have an equal amount of friends who still have their moms around as compared to those who do not. And every time I learn about another person, especially a woman young or old, learning to live without their mom, it makes me appreciate even more all the ways mine has supported and nurtured me.

When my mom learned about how late I would be playing sand volleyball last week at a sports bar incredibly close to her and my dad’s home as well as my work (but extremely far away from my own home that I share with my loving and loud family), she offered up a simple question, “Would you like to just stay the night at our place after your games?”

((record scratch))

WOULD I?! I thought.

“Well, yeah, if you don’t mind. That would be awesome.” I replied.

Spa Home

Here are all of the reasons why I have no shame in my spa game at mom and dad’s place:

  1. Their house – thanks in large part to my mom – feels like a page out of a magazine, where wind chimes are singing their melodies while soft breezes are blowing and time takes its time. I’ve never known it to be messy or disheveled, which incidentally are the two words I’d use to best describe the 15 hours of my average waking day.
  2. Snack time at 10 p.m. Guys, my mom had a sandwich prepared for me as I walked in their front door after my game. But she waited to put on the lettuce and tomato because she “didn’t want the bread to get soggy.” At this point, we might as well have been John and Ray Kinsella in her Field of Dreams kitchen with me posing the question, “Is this heaven?” and her answering, “It’s you reliving your childhood.”
  3. Fresh towels. I showered before going to bed and wrapped myself in ultra soft comfort to dry off. As I took in a deep breath of gratitude, I wondered how my mom keeps her towels feeling and smelling so wonderful. Towels in my own home, even freshly washed and straight out of the dryer, feel scratchy and smell like where you don’t want to be.
  4. Open windows. Three out of the four people I share my own home with prefer air conditioning approximately eight months out of the year. The other four months are basically the dead of winter in Nebraska. As I pulled down the sheets of the perfectly made bed that magical evening at mom and dad’s house, and collapsed into total comfort, I felt the fresh outside air snaking its way into the room on an unseasonably and refreshingly cool evening in July.
  5. Peace and quiet. Not once did I have to threaten teenage boys to take away Fortnite if they didn’t stop yelling during their games. Not once did I have to tell their sister to turn down YouTube. Not once did I have to nudge my snoring husband. Not once did I hear the dog barking. Not once did I move after I fell asleep.
  6. No group consensus required. I ate when I wanted. Fell asleep when I wanted. Took up as much room as I wanted. Woke up when I wanted.
  7. Freshly prepared breakfast. Cut up fruit, baked blueberry muffins, and hot chocolate with marshmallows. Yes, I am the youngest child.
  8. Full toilet paper rolls. No additional explanation needed.

It wasn’t until I was a mom myself did I realize how hard the gig can be. As with most things in life, experience breeds appreciation and understanding.

My mom has told me many times that she doesn’t know how I do it. The full-time job, the shuffling activity calendars, the coaching, the rushing around, the holding it all together, the everything. And I only need one night with her to realize that all of the “stuff” I do pales in comparison to what she does…which is to make every person who comes into their house truly feel as if they are home. And can exhale.

Thank you, Mom. For this. For everything.

Written by Heidi Woodard

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I keep stealing glances at you when you’re not looking.

You’re still too young to be mortified by your mother’s behavior and I am savoring every last second knowing that. Realizing your adolescence phase is right around the corner makes me want to cherish your little girl phase even more.

Jaycee supergirl

I realize that stopping you from growing up is not only impossible, but irresponsible as well. Part of my job as your mom is to let you go eventually.

I’m supposed to let you become more independent, more aloof, more at bay. And far less reliant on your dad and me.

I’m supposed to be your eternal compass, guiding you and your behavior in the right direction for your one, special life.

I’m supposed to be your parent first and your friend second.

And yet…

There is a large part of me who doesn’t want you to change at all from who you are at this very moment. Caught in between childhood and young adulthood.

Jaycee sleeping

I love that you are almost 9 years old.

It caught me by surprise to think about how this will be your last single-digit year birthday. Having experienced your brothers getting older before you has taught me that, as each year increases, so too does the space between us. Not in a bad way…just in a life moves on way.

My wish this year on your birthday, as I watch you blow out your candles, will be to not let the next 365 days fly by as quickly as the last 365 days did if I can help it. My other wish will be to let you know these things about your childhood self.

I love watching you ride like the wind on your Barbie scooter. I will miss it when that wobbly back wheel finally falls off.

Jaycee scooter

I love complaining about and then subsequently doing school science projects with you. Soon you will outpace my level of academic genius. Until then, even I can handle baking soda and vinegar reactions.

I will miss holding your hand when we walk, when we rehash our days, when we fall asleep.

I love your competitive drive. I love watching you play sports at a pace that doesn’t consume all of your energy or free time. I know, again from experience, it won’t always be this way.

Jaycee softball

I love how you sing with reckless abandon, making up notes and verses as you go. And how you don’t dance like no one is watching; rather, you perform as if everyone should be.

I love that you don’t yet have a cell phone stealing your attention away.

I love that you consider yourself beautiful just the way you are.

Jaycee field day

I will miss the mischievous look in your eye as I watch you climb to the top of every swing set, scale every rock wall, and balance atop fences.

 

Jaycee climbing2

I love that you still like to show up the boys with your natural born ability and aren’t worried about having to show off your body in an attempt to gain their attention.

Because I have lived through the transition of childhood into adolescence twice before with your brothers, I must tell you that this phase you are in is both fabulous and fleeting. Think of it like the weeping willow tree whose branches you swung on for so many years.

Since last spring when that tree was unexpectedly uprooted by the tornado that ripped through our tiny park, I have walked many times by the vast empty space that its majestic frame used to consume and the reality hits me.

You are my final trick-or-treater.

My final hide-and-seeker.

My final almost 9-year old.

I couldn’t be prouder of the young lady you are becoming. But please forgive me for wanting to hold on to now for just a little while longer.

Jaycee firework

Written by Heidi Woodard

Holy crap, how could 10 full months have already flashed before my very eyes?

10U Lady Cougars team

Special thanks to Kiki’s Kaptures for taking team and individual photos this year! Visit Kiki online at http://www.kikiskaptures.com.

 

I entered this volunteer “job” with a stellar resume – one year being the assistant coach in a recreational coach-pitch softball league. I’m happy to say I only hit one girl that first summer.

I bet you didn’t know that this vast experience automatically qualified me for being named head coach of a more competitive, yet not overly dominated by adults, youth fast pitch softball team. Neither did I. Yet I was offered and accepted this role back in August 2016.

Girls fast pitch softball divides their levels of play into two-year increments. Therefore, the earliest that girls start competing in games where they or their teammates perform windmill pitching in my home state is 8 and under (keep in mind the “under” can be as young as 7 or, GASP!, 6 years old), which is more commonly referred to as 8U. Once girls age out of 8U, they move on to 10U, 12U, 14U, 16U, and finally 18U. A select few move on to play in college and an even more select few play as professionals or (in those years when the sport of softball is included) as part of the Olympic games.

I think the 10U division best suits my personality type and patience level. There have been many moments in life when I wouldn’t mind being that age again, so hanging out with this particular group of girls turned out to be good for my soul. However, I wasn’t sure how the season would unfold back in those first few months last summer.

softball bruise

We definitely took some bruises early in the year…literally and figuratively.

 

Back when I was asked if we would be doing “bumping” practice (translation: one of my girls wanted to know how to bunt). Back when we devoted several hours at three different practices on leadoff timing, only to watch half the team stand like petrified deer completely upright on top of every base with zero clue of what to do once the ball left the opposing pitcher’s hand. Back when not one, but two players, got hit smack in the face by their throwing partners because neither of the pairs knew what in the hell was going on during warmups. Back when I was more concerned about the team as a collective making any contact with the ball whatsoever at the plate versus raising any single individual’s batting average.

Our saving grace is that we had several pitchers who could throw strikes on a consistent basis. It was as if the softball Gods looked down upon me and said, “We will bless you with good pitchers because we realize you don’t know jack about how to teach that.”

tourney time

Strong in the eye black category.

 

For all of the mental and physical player miscues, there were equal if not greater amounts of coaching blunders on my part. Those times when I had to be reminded of the code to get into the hitting facility or practice field because I failed to save a simple reminder on my phone. The times when I frantically texted parents about my anticipated tardiness to practice when my real job ran late. The time when I not-so-subtly reminded an opposing team’s coaching staff about the age of one of the players I was teaching as they barked out their objections to her leaving the base early while they were annihilating our lesser experienced team. The time when I expressed my opinion to a home plate umpire who got in the way of a throw to cost us a potential out.

Boy was it a learning year for ALL involved. I didn’t always give the game back in the heat of the moment, but I’d like to believe I tried my hardest throughout the year.

And here’s the kicker: This hodgepodge group of girls, the majority of whom I had never met prior to last summer, has made an infallible imprint on my life.

park play

They believed they could do great things together…so they did.

 

I handed out certificates of recognition to each of them. I purposely chose to do that before the end of the season because I’m not always the best with goodbyes. These certificates encapsulated what I felt each girl brought to the team. I promised the parents in the form of a letter that I handed out at the beginning of the season that each girl would know, regardless of her natural talent and coordination levels, she has a vital role to play on this team.

Below is a listing of the descriptions on those certificates of recognition. My hope is that the girls will remember being called out in front of their peers and parents – not for something they fell short on, as unfortunately happens far too often in youth sports, but for something spectacular that they accomplished.

  1. Team Toughness Award
  2. Leaving it ALL on the Field Award
  3. Spark Plug Award
  4. Small but Mighty Award
  5. Powerful and Patient Award
  6. Leadership by Example Award
  7. Maximum Effort Award
  8. Grit and Fit Award
  9. Killer Instinct and Curiosity Award
  10. Smiles for Miles Award
  11. Strength in the Batter’s Box and Giggle Box Award
  12. Persistence and Positivity Award

I am willing to put money on the fact that, even into their early adult years, many of these recognition descriptions will still ring true about their core personalities. I had the privilege of watching so many innate strengths come to life.

To the 2016-2017 Lady Cougar 10U softball team, all I can say is you helped me evolve as a person this year. You proved to me that very small bodies can do very big things when they put their minds to it. I love to watch you play.

Written by Heidi Woodard