How to Survive a Seven-Hour Baseball Game... with Kids in Tow

Hubby and I had been planning a special trip to watch our beloved Cincinnati Reds for quite some time... and Monday (Memorial Day) was THE big day! The forecast called for a "chance" of a pop-up thunderstorm, which in Ohio weather-language means "85% chance nothing will happen" so we took the bet and carted both of the kiddos down to Cincy. Neither of us had a clue, mind you, as to how the kids might act and/or if they would both make it until the end of the game. Jake is typically pretty laid back - however - the starting time for the game was 1:10 = 10 minutes AFTER Jake usually goes down for a nap. So we were going to go with the flow and hope that he didn't turn into a sleep-deprived monster by the sixth inning!

Without boring any anti-sports fans out there, I will say that the first inning was very exciting! The Reds scored 5 unearned runs by the end of it - pretty impressive if you ask me - and we were there to witness it! Our seats weren't bad either... which proved to be a blessing when the sky above us darkened in the fifth inning and rain started coming down (we were under the overhang.) Drats! Blah! Ugh! Now what do we do with two figgity kids who have missed their nap? Jake was already getting to the "slap-happy" point (as we like to call it in our household) - you know, the point when you are past exhaustion and don't actually know what you're doing? He was there - big time. The dude behind us knows this all too well after having his knee angrily slapped multiple times by our Jakey boy. Our sweet, innocent little boy began wailing on any vulnerable victim in his sight... the men in front of him, beside him, and of course, behind him. So with the threat of a long rain delay looming and still 4 1/2 innings of baseball left in the game, Al and I had to switch to survival mode. Here is how we (and our little troopers) made it to the end of the game without sacrificing our sanity:

We headed straight for the food - after the lines died down. The Great American Ball Park now has $1 concession stands - would have been the BEST THING EVER if Marissa wouldn't have begged for cotton candy ($4.50) and a soft pretzel (also $4.50) which when combined cost more than all of our other food - Ugh. At any rate - eating kept the kids occupied for almost 45 minutes - SCORE!

I then spotted a slew of gumball and other toy machines. Which, at first thought, might seem like a bad idea to go stand by, but actually it was quite the opposite! Marissa was allowed to pick out one toy machine to put her quarters in - the small little bauble that came out kept her occupied for another 20 minutes or so while Jake tried like crazy to figure out how people were getting the gumballs out of the gumball machine - it was too cute to watch!

We spent the rest of the two-hour rain delay walking around the stadium and checking out different views of the baseball field. Jake loved this - but Marissa could have cared less. She may have asked "Can we go home now?" about 10 times by that point.

Once the rain let up a bit, we made our way back to our seats (which thankfully, were still pretty dry) and watched the field crew roll up the tarp. I tell you what, I never thought that it would elicit such joy and excitement from Marissa! Holy cow did she think that was fun to watch. We were relieved when the game started 20 minutes later - but we still had all of those innings to get through and by this time - well, it was almost din-din time for the kids. But Al and I made sure we kept the kids involved and interested in the game by doing what parents do best and exaggerated everything. We danced everytime a song came on, we roared "Charge!" everytime we were cued to, we pointed out our favorite players to the kids (Adam, we love you man!) and we let Marissa run down to the Reds' dugout to try and catch a ball at the end of every inning.

By the time the game was finally over, the kiddos had made it through a two-hour car ride, five hours of baseball and 2 hours worth of a rain delay and were to say the least, POOPED! Jake fell asleep 5 minutes after he was buckled in. Marissa, being the stubborn mule that she is, kept herself awake by playing her Leapster the entire way home.

I guess when all is said and done, it pays to get creative to pass the time and to let your kids know that you are there to have fun with them - even if the game doesn't go quite as planned. If you learn to "go with the flow" your kids will be likely to adapt right along with you... :)

Jake, a born & bred Reds fan couldn't take his eyes off of the game!

Family Photo by the dugout.


Getting Rid of the Guilt - Week 2 + Binky Update

Binky Update
This past week, Al and I have been on a mission to begin weaning Jakey from his obsessive need for his "bink-bink." We started slowly by asking Jake to please pull his "binky out" in the event that he still had it in his mouth when he woke up in the a.m. Then, we hid it out of plain view until naptime. He was allowed to have it for naptime, car rides, and bedtime over the weekend. Then, while I was gone during the week (awesome conference I will blog about here later...) Alan took it up a notch and eliminated "binky-time" during car rides. So when I picked the kiddos up from the sitter's house yesterday, I expected Jakey to sit still in his car seat while I buckled him in, just like a perfect little angel, without so much as one request for his binky... but no.... I was mistaken. I couldn't even make it INTO the sitter's front door before he was frantically searching in his diaper bag for the stupid thing! ugh. Two steps forward, one step back I suppose. Of course, if Al had picked him up, the turn of events would probably have been different, but oh well. We'll keep working on it, and of course I will post some updates as we try to make some progress!

Getting Rid of the Guilt - Week 2
While I was out of town at the CYFAR (Children Youth and Families at Risk) Conference with colleague and friend Tricia, who is one of the most intuitive people I know by the way, we took a lovely Water Taxi ride across Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Of course, being the mommy that I am, I made the comment to her about how selfish and guilty I sometimes felt doing things without Jake and Marissa. To add insult to injury, this trip was a business trip - Tricia and I were presenting a workshop at the conference and here I was, away from my entire family and enjoying Baltimore without them... and.... gasp..... Having Fun Without Them due to work! Tricia just smiled at me and said "No, you just think that it might be more fun if they were here." So true! And yet, I still feel guilty whenever I have fun without the kiddos. My totally unscientific theory is that this stems from all of us parents wanting our children to experience the things we couldn't experience when we were younger. (Case in point - I never traveled further east of Indianapolis until I was 20 years old.) We want them to see all that there is to see of the world and experience it's many fascinating differences, to revel in all that the world and it's people have to offer. I can not wait until the day Alan and I can pack up the kids in our minivan and drive cross country - out to the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountains, the great Mississippi and more! Isn't that what it is what it is all about, after all? .... exploring the unknown with your family by your side? But that was not the case on this trip, and I think I've come to terms with that. Our children need to understand that while family time is what binds us all together, the time that we spend apart also plays an important role in shaping us as individuals and enriching our lives. I couldn't help but think after I returned home last night that Marissa would not have been old enough to appreciate the beautiful small-town charm of Baltimore and Jake wouldn't have even remembered a bit of the trip anyway. So after putting everything into perspective - no more travel-apart guilt for me. No, sir. It's honestly okay for me to have fun without the family, they will all have plenty of their own traveling adventures in the years ahead. :)


Getting Rid of the Guilt - Week 1

As a working mommy, I often find myself being a little well, lax, on certain issues the pop up with our kiddos from time to time. Why do I find myself giving in to things a little too often? Probably because 1) I am physically, emotionally, and intellectually exhausted each day after I come home from work, 2) I honestly find it hard to concentrate on the kiddos' various issues long enough to efficiently deal with them! and 3) I feel a twinge of guilt everything I look into my children's faces, knowing that I choose to be away from them at least eight hours out of each day Monday - Friday. It is because of the latter reason that I am now on a personal mission to "get rid of the guilt" over the next few weeks.

This week, I'm going to break down and force myself to come to terms with the fact that my Jakey boy is no longer the infant he used to be and must.... I mean MUST be broken of the needy relationship he has with his pacifier. I recently browsed through some of our latest photos on the 'puter and he has that darn red binky in his mouth in almost every single one. I never had this issue with my daughter - she refused a pacifier even at a very early age. And so I would catch myself thinking snide things about parents who carted their older children around with binkies protruding from their mouths. And now I find myself being that parent!... and feeling like a complete hypocrit in the process. But this weaning thing needs to be done in baby steps... for mommy AND Jakey's sake. :( He has an extreme tendency to become very attached to many things that he comes across... I mean, the child sleeps with THREE blankies, THREE stuffed animals, and his binky for goodness sake!!! So.... this weekend will be the dawn of a new "day" for us and Jakey will be starting the weaning process from his beloved "bink-bink."

Wish us both some luck!!

One of the few recent photos of Jakey without his "bink-bink."

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Welcome Baby Audrey!

Alan's brother and his wife were blessed with a beautiful baby girl, Audrey Caroline, on Mother's Day! What a perfect mommy's day present for them - and Al and I were blessed with our fourth niece in the process (we also have three nephews) :) Of course we both couldn't resist to wait any longer to meet our new niece and so we whisked Jakey boy down to the hospital tonight to see her. Jake actually was surprisingly well-behaved in the waiting area for the entire two hours that we were there - he scored extra brownie points from mommy and redeemed them for lots of extra kisses before bedtime tonight! Audrey has the most beautiful head of thick, blonde hair and the prettiest little nose I've ever seen! I can honestly say she made her Aunt Jamie feel a bit of a baby itch coming on...Jakey's not so little anymore :) I'm sure everyone wants to stop reading my text and get to the pics! So here ya go...

I look just like my daddy and Grandma Seger!

What's this guy think he's laughing at? He would be tired if he went through what I did too!

I guess Uncle Al isn't all that bad, he kinda acts like a pro at this baby stuff. Now, if only I could reach those shiny metal things on his face... :)

Time Keeps on Slipping...

Marissa, my little Marissa girl, graduated from preschool this past Friday night. She and her classmates were dressed in white caps and cute little white capes. They sang songs they had learned throughout the year, watched a slideshow of special moments their teachers had captured, and presented all of us lucky mommies with beautiful roses. It was a night that I will hold in my heart forever. It seems as though a page has turned in our family's life... our oldest child has closed the door on one chapter in her life and is on the doorstep of beginning another. Wasn't it just yesterday that I was walking her around the house at 3 a.m. in a desperate attempt to lull her back to sleep at two months of age? Marissa has always been what some would call a "challenging child" or a "handful." But her challenging temperment has turned into a blessing as she has grown into a vivacious, full-of-life 5 year old who somehow always seems to be the pulse or the heartbeat of our family. She is always willing to lend a helping hand, play a game of "bay-bowl" (i.e. baseball) with Jakey, or immerse herself in whatever lessons Alan and I are trying to teach her on a daily basis. She loves life and she loves learning. I can already smell a teacher's pet in our midst...

And I can't really explain why, but sometimes when I step into her room late (way too late) at night on my way to bed, I watch her sleeping and begin to miss the 3 a.m. "walkathons" in our little living room... when it was just her and I, quietly walking our routine path back and forth, back and forth. I didn't realize it at the time, but those were some of the most peaceful moments of my life.

Congratulations sweetpea, I am so very proud of you.

Marissa on graduation night with her teachers.

Marissa receiving her diploma. Sorry the picture is pretty blurry - Alan accidentally had the camera on the wrong setting! :(

Menu Plan Monday - May 11th

My menu plan this week is admittedly a little sparse... but we have a busy agenda this week... again!

Monday - Eating din-din out due to visiting our beautiful new niece at the hospital!

Tuesday - Hubby & Kiddos on their own ... mommy arriving home late from workshop in Columbus

Wednesday - Alan's Homemade Chicken Fingers, green beans, fruit for Jakey

Thursday - Salmon Patties, pasta salad & corn

Friday - Pork Chops (didn't get around to making these this past weekend) , peas & potatoes

Saturday - lunch at Alan's (hubby) Disc Golf tourney / din-din at beer tasting festival in New Carlisle

Sunday - Pork Fried Rice with veggies, pasta salad and/or garden salad


Warning: Garage Sale-'n May Suck the Life Out of You!

This past weekend, Al (hubby) and I thought we would be adventurous and explore uncharted territory by hosting a garage sale during the craziness that is the Tipp City community garage sale day! Adventurous, yes - crazy, definitely! We were very fortunate, however, that we did not have a mob of people in and out of our garage all day long - we were spared due to being the only sale on our street :)

While I do not have photos of the garage sale itself, I do have a couple shots of Marissa's lemonade stand. She was quite possible the best salesperson I've ever seen! Garage sale shoppers couldn't even make it a third of the way down our driveway without her sprinting toward them and begging *ahem* asking them if they would like some lemonade. She also had the (genius) idea of putting her gumball machine on the table as well. All in all she made almost $20 total in less than two hours. Now that's what I call workin' it! And you gotta admit - who can resist a five-year-old selling lemonade that is passionate about what she does? :)

* This last photo was my view for most of the day - me stuck in the garage while Jake frolicked in the yard. :)

While we did make quite a bit of money (Marissa wasn't the only one who made out like a bandit!) it was hard work. I felt like I had been hit by a mac truck Sunday morning and I think Jakey boy felt the same... he showed it by sleeping a total of 7 hours during the day and waking up with a runny nose - poor thing. I think we'll sit next year out.... or just let Marissa do her specialty: offer the suckers... uh... garage saler's, some refreshments. :)

Menu Plan Monday - May 4th

Yay - it's May! I'm so glad that May is finally here... generally in Ohio this means the nasty, snowy weather is behind us and warm weather is ahead :) If you can't tell by my menu this week, I'm in a summer kind-of mood! :)

Monday - BBQ chicken on the grill, cheesy potato & onion packets (our sick little cuddlebug [Jakey] may be having soup, however.)

Tuesday - Mom's Chili (quite possibly the last chili batch of the season - *sniff*)

Wednesday - TBD - quick & easy (Jakey's swimming class)

Thursday - Hot Dog Croissants a.k.a. Pigs in a Blanket(prepping to make these for OAMM Big Cooking Day), Succatash, Fruit

Friday - Left-over Chili (Marissa will be graduating from preschool this evening = need a quick meal!)

Saturday - Tacos!! :)

Sunday - Pork Chops (grilled - weather permitting), peas, salad and fruit
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