I had a preview of what the next probably 10 years of my life are going to look like last Friday night as we drove to the new Baseball park, sat in the stands, and watched an inning or two of an 8U baseball game under the lights. It may not necessarily be baseball, but I am sure I will spend plenty of time in the years to come sitting in the stands watching the kids play one sport or another. As I sat there not only did I get a glimpse of all those nights to come, but flashbacks to my own playing days.
I was astounded at the skills the 8 year olds had. And fascinated by the people watching. And after about 10 minutes reminded WHY I bought a bleacher seat last year... Those bleachers are just as hard, cold, and hard on both my back and rear end as I remembered. :)
Then Saturday we were up bright and early and off to a game of our own. Followed of course by a soccer game and then this and that and before I knew the whole day had come and gone. Only to be repeated come Sunday as we had yet another baseball game.
Ryan tried his hand at pitcher in Sunday's game. Since our league is actually coach pitch what that amounts to is being the closest player to plate to go after the dribblers and to make a play at home plate once in a while.
During his inning at pitcher Ryan surprised us all as he grabbed a ball and made a sliding play into home in an attempt to beat the runner to the plate.
He was a split second too late, and a foot or two, too short. Though we all cheered wildly and applauded his efforts heartily none the less. I can't help but wonder where the thought or dare I say instinct to slide came from? It's certainly not anything we have ever practiced or even talked about. Though with our light colored pants and red dirt I can only hope it was a fluke and won't be too oft repeated. :)
There's so much that I hope I will remember about this baseball season. There's of course just the normal every day run of the mill baseball -
Turns at bat:
Running the bases:
And taking the field.
And even some impressive plays. I might have to go so far as to say they almost look like a real baseball team this weekend. Because they have sure come a long way this week. They were quick on the bat (most kids only taking 1 or 2 pitches before getting a hit). And they made plays on the field. Stopping the ball. Throwing the ball. Tagging the runner.
So much so that we ended every inning with 3 outs vs. the 5 run rule and barely let the other team make it through their entire line-up over the course of the entire game. Our team on the other hand ended every single inning with a 5 run rule and came just 3 people short of making it through our entire line up 3 times.
But those aren't the things I will remember most about these games. I will remember Connor akwardly carrying his bat and trying to run with it to 1st base after getting a hit. And me cheering him on, shouting "RUN!!, RUN!!, RUN!!!!, and laughing so hard as he akwardly tried to carry his bat, hold his helmet and run at the same time. So much so that I didn't even think to snap a single picture of it. You will have to take my word for it - it was priceless.
I will remember the too big helmets that bobbed up and down as they ran and occassionaly had to be held on to.
I will also remember Connor getting to 1st base only to find it already occupied by another teammate who forgot to run.
I will remember mob fielding (I think that's technically the SS, wnd baseman, pitcher and right fielder).
And skippy here taking his time to get to the base.
And I will remember the little kid who instead of running from 2nd to 3rd chased a ball into the outfield much to the surprise of the fielders, but who still managed to get to the base before they thought to tag him. :)
But most of all I will remember this...
Their smiles. And the fact that I smiled so big, and so much that my cheeks hurt afterwards. That's what I will remember most about this season.
I will be the first to admit that I may have gone just a teensy, tiny bit overboard...
You see last week was our first baseball game. And during the game there were a number of things that became obvious to me.
1. 4 & 5 year olds do NOT keep up with hats gloves, batting helmets, or well... anything. :)
So as you can imagine when it's time to return to the field it's pure chaos trying to find everyone's gloves, hats, etc.
To solve that problem I picked up some baskets from from the dollar store, spray painted them black to match our team colors. Added personalized laminated labels, and d-rings to hook them on the fence. The kids came right in, excitedly found their buckets and put their stuff right in! Without being asked, reminded, or nagged. Worked like a charm! :)
2. Since the vast majority of the team has never played before we all went to the store and bought the exact same baseball bag which makes it really hard to figure out which bag was yours (especially when it's a brand new bag you have never had to look for before and only remember it was Easton. And black. And there's 6 of them all lined up in a row right where you left yours...)
So inside each bucket when the kids first arrived was a little snack bag. Inside was a personalized bag tag & some helmet stickers.
And I have to say I thought the bag tags turned out really nice. :)
The tags are 2x3", printed on plain paper, then laminated with 5mil paper. Punched a little hole in top, added a clip to clip them on with and topped them off with a ribbon. :)
3. And Friday morning right before our Saturday game we all got an email from the coach that said if you don't already have a batting helmet, please make sure to pick one up before tomorrow morning's game! So we all went to the store and bought the same metallic black helmets...
That was actually one thing I DID anticipate last week (not to mention we needed to keep up with 2 to start with...). So before last week's game I made helmet stickers out of label paper for the boys, sized to a 2 - 2 1/2 inch circle punch I had. Punched them out and stuck them on both the front and back of their helmets to help us keep up with them.
It made it super easy to spot the boy's helmets and with their names on them they were even able to find their own helmet without our help. So in each of the kid's little snack baggies I added two personalized helmet stickers for everyone, too.
4. The batting order needs to be posted where EVERYONE can see it to know who's up and who's on deck. Because when there's no one in the in dugout in charge of keeping up with who's up and who's on deck it's a madhouse.
So I printed a second set of the basket tags to clip up in the dugout to post the batting order. Unfortunatley when I was looking for a copy of the lineup to sort out my tags the coach asked if I was going to help keep up with who was up and get the kids ready. He seemed so relieved that I just couldn't bring myself to say no. And of course with everything going on I totally forgot to take a pictures of the tags. :)
By the way... Last FALL we went to Orlando to see Universal. And it's now Spring. And I just noticed that I totally forgot to post the pictures for oh, 5, no wait, 6 months... What's even worse is that I didn't even look through the pictures until I was working on my 2013 Calendar. In January, or was it February? I have pretty much decided I am going to run my future Calendars from like May to May for Mother's Day so I actually have some time to work on them. Because basically from October 1st to December 31st life just goes in fast forward.
So we went to Universal. Hung out with the minions, saw our favorite sleuth - Scooby Doo!, and rode every.single.ride we were tall enough for. And at a whopping 42, and 44+ inches that was just about everything. ;)
In the interest of full disclosure here, vacations typically revolve around the munchkins, but this time... I can admit... It was mostly about me. See, despite having gone to Orlando 3 times now that I can remember and having gone to Disney for what most people would consider insanely long amounts of time I have never, ever been to Universal. And Harry Potter World was calling my name.
And I have to say it more than lived up to expectations. From the castle, to Olivanders to the town of Hogsmeade I couldn't have been more impressed. The butterbeer was awesome as was the Hippogryph coaster which we rode no less than 20 times. :) The only thing that I wasn't crazy about was the actual ride in the castle. For those prone to motion sickness it isn't the ride for you. Ironically I had no problem with the fighting dragons - just the castle ride. :)
Though the rest of the park was pretty awesome, too. And I am glad we had at least two days to really do it justice. The boys really loved the Jurassic Park section. The pteranadon flyers and playground as well.
We ate at the revered Mythos, got drowned at Ripshaw Falls, repeatedly... and found the one and only ride in the entire park that boys NEVER, EVER want to do again - Poseidon's Fury.
Not only did we visit both Universal parks - we also hit up the Wet N Wild water park.
And SeaWorld Orlando.
And even headed over to the west coast of Florida to the beaches at Clearwater. And while a day at the beach was wonderful, it was the food recommendations that my mom and Kevin dug up as part of their homework assignments that really won me over. The Grouper sandwiches from Frenchy's, and a nice sunset dinner looking out over the beach from the 2nd floor deck at Crabby's.