The Ball Field Life

It’s the end of March and we’re solidly into the beginnings of our longest seasons of the year – baseball and softball. Leo’s high school team has been loosely practicing once a week since November, shifting to everyday practice as soon as basketball season ended. Alex’s team and Kate’s team have been doing weekly practices since the beginning of February. And we’ve had several days where I’ve taken the kids into town to play catch at the ball field while waiting for Leo’s pickup time.

I’d be absolutely lying if I didn’t confess to loving it. Every dang minute. Even the cold ones like last night!

I’ve been nervous to see how Leo would transition into high school baseball. So far, it’s been great for him. He’s gotten plenty of playing time and been able to play several positions (first base, third base, shortstop and pitcher), even a few new to him. He looks confident and is working to be more of a vocal leader than he’s been in the past. It’s good to see him working hard and having fun.

Tony’s coaching Alex’s team this year and I’m really excited to see how they’re already growing. 10U baseball is an important time – it’s where the kids need to start making strides with their skills and growing their confidence. Tony’s a great coach for that. His love for the game shows and he’s been great at helping the young players break down their skills to help them start learning proper form and habits. I don’t think this team has the ability to be a league contender this year, but it is possible that they could be in future years if they continue to work together and grow they way that I’ve seen thus far.

Kate’s team is a bit of a wildcard as nearly all 8U girls softball teams are, lol. So far we’ve been stuck inside for practice sessions, which admittedly, is tough. But I am seeing glimmers of the starts of these girls’ love for the game pop up. Kate doesn’t show it all the time, but when she decides to be serious, the girl is all-in. For now our focus is keeping it fun and helping them build the skills they’ll need as they get bigger.

For me the biggest question of the summer will be how much I will be playing. Tony and I have regularly played in at least one weekly league and picked up a couple of weekend tournaments for the past 10+ years. As the kids are getting older, my interest in being on the field without them is dropping off. I can’t probably say the same thing for Tony, but I can kinda feel the end of my playing time coming soon. We shall see what opportunities present themselves … maybe I still have another season or two of league ball left in me?

Holy Moly, Where Did 6 Years Go?

It’s timely that I decided to look at my blog today – my last post was about my goals for 2018. The list seemed solid, but honestly, it was so long ago I can’t tell you how many were accomplished. Let me take a walk down memory lane and make a few guesses…

I’m nearly certain I finished 15 books. That goal, or larger variations of that goal, have been on my Goals List for years. I always crush them. I’ve become an audiobook lover and almost always have a book of some type on loan from the local library. I’d guess that I’ve probably listened to 50+ in 2023 alone. It’s become so routine to me that I no longer need to set a goal to make sure I’m making time for reading.

I clearly didn’t post on my blog twice a month. Big fail in skipping 6 years. But hey, that seems like something that makes sense to work into my Goals for 2024. So I’ll add it. (See full list in future post.)

Run 3 adventure races with Tony. I doubt we accomplished this one. I think one year we ran 2 races, but never more than that. I enjoy training for races. I hate running the races. I love winning the races. And at some point mid-race, I always contemplate ways I could kill Tony during the race so that I could slow down, lol. I haven’t ran an adventure race in several years, and I’m not entirely sure I will do one again, at least not with Tony. I could see myself doing one with Tony and one of the kids at some point. I will still fulfill the role as the slow one, but maybe I’ll enjoy it more? Anyway, I have rode the Dirty Kanza/Unbound Gravel race several times now – 50 miles the first year, 25 miles with Leo the past 2 years. We’ll throw our names in the hat again later today and cross our fingers that we get in. I’m still trying to decide what distance I want to go for.

Go on one big adventure. Eh, I probably did that? We’ve done a much better job of adventuring these past few years and 2018 is around the timeframe that started. Adventures take on all shapes and sizes, but they usually involve something strenuous outside. It’s what we can second level fun – it’s a lot of work in the moment, but usually in beautiful surroundings and we make a lot of memories to look back at later. I can promise there will be more of this in the future – it’s something that we hope to pass down to the kids as a beloved family tradition.

Make more memories doing stuff, focus less on things. I don’t know that I achieved that in 2018, but like the adventuring, it’s something that we’ve really embraced and do better with each year. Hopefully before long we’ll be able to fully transition away from giving “stuff” for birthdays and Christmas and can instead give experiences and travel. It’s far more memorable than any tangible item.

The other facet to that memories goal was spending more time with people. I probably didn’t accomplish that in 2018 or the year after. But the pandemic in 2020 coinciding with the start of really gave me the opportunity to prioritize the important relationships in my life. Honestly, 2020 was one of the biggest blessings I’ve had to date.

I am sure I didn’t help DARI hit its 2018 sales goals, mostly because I left the company mid-year and went back to jhP. I am still connected to DARI and think their future is bright, but I’m not really in a position to help them generate sales like I used to me. Now I’m focused on generating new business for cohort.

When I read last two goals for 2018, I had to giggle. I had forgotten about the time where we were undecided if we were going to stay in the greater Topeka area or if we were going to move back home, closer to our parents. We realized that we were probably always going to have ties to Topeka from an employment standpoint, and that the long-distance commuting wasn’t a great fit for our family. Luckily 2 years ago we found a great house southeast of Topeka that puts us close enough for a pretty easy commute, but far enough away that Topeka still feels like “going to the city.” The house is big enough to allow us to spread out and breathe – it’s perfect for where we’re at in life right now. I’m guessing this isn’t our forever home, but I’d bet (hope) we’ll be here for awhile.

I also had to laugh about my goal to stay within my lunch budget. The struggle there was real. One of the biggest benefits (aside from the saved commute time and expense) of working from home is that I also eat the majority of my lunches at home. I’d suppose that it’s increased our grocery bill some, but probably not significantly. The other thing that really helps is that I’ve significantly cut back on my soda intake. In 2018, I was a Dt. Pepsi junkie – it was nearly the only thing I drank unless I was working out. I quit drinking soda completely in January of 2020 when I went to Cuba for a few days. They don’t have soda there (at least nothing like ours), so it was easier to just stop cold turkey while my brain was so captivated by the different culture and customs. When I came back, I just stopped buying pop. Fast forward to today and I can drink soda in moderation. We don’t typically keep soda in the house, but when we do I can have a can or two a day while still drinking plenty of water.

2018 Goals

I’ve spent several weeks thinking about these, trying to come up with a well-rounded list that included a tangible tracking mechanism so it would be easier to determine success. Without further ado, I present Alissa’s 2018 Goals:

  1. Listen to 15 audiobooks.
  2. Post on my blog bi-weekly (or at least average two posts a month).
  3. Run in three adventure races with Tony.
  4. Go on one big adventure.
  5. Make more memories doing stuff. With the kids. With Tony. With my parents. With my sister. With my brother. Focus less on things.
  6. Help DARI hit it’s 2018 sales goal.
  7. Decide where we’re going to live and make it happen.
  8. Stay within my lunch budget each month.

Some of these will be pretty easy to do. (I’ve already listened to two books this month.) Others will require work – training, writing, thinking. And my favorites will require quality time, something that I’m cherishing more and more as I get older.

Update: I decided to add an additional goal to my list (see #8 above). It seems like a simple one, but it’s going to be a challenge… I always like challenges.

2017, How Did I Do?

As 2017 was winding down, I revisited my list of goals (I keep it on my desktop for easy access) to see how I had done. I had started the year with 5 pretty simple goals:

  1. Get rid of all the baby stuff. Check!

    Thanks to a very successful garage sale in May, I can say that almost all of the baby/early toddler days stuff (clothes, contraptions, toys, etc.) is gone. There are still a few items remaining that Kate’s continued to use (crib, stroller and high chair, specifically), but I’m not going to rush her out of them. When she’s ready, we’ll get rid of them too. I’m certainly not in a hurry for her to grow up though.

  2. Spend more quality time with each kid each week. Check!

    This was a somewhat subjective goal. I didn’t put any measurements in place to hold myself accountable, but I was especially mindful of this goal in particular and worked really hard to spend more quality time with the kids. I’m certain I did better with Leo and Kate than I did the year before, but Alex… well, he’s such a daddy’s boy that it’s a bit harder for me to get one-on-one time with him. That is something I’m going to work on though.

  3. Improve my strength and general fitness level. Check!

    I intentionally didn’t set specific criteria for this goal. I honestly didn’t know what was possible or how I wanted to focus my efforts. Regardless, I’m certain I’m stronger and more fit than when I ended 2016. I’m playing competitive volleyball on a regular basis. I ran in a couple of adventure races without totally embarrassing myself or wanting to divorce my husband. And I was finally able to get back to playing softball at a level that I felt good about. My daily steps goal (as tracked by my Fitbit) was 7,500, and according to my annual data, I actually averaged closer to 8,500 steps. I still feel like this is an area where I can improve, but I feel great about the work I’ve put in during 2017.

  4. Listen to/Read at least 12 books. Check!

    I totally rocked this one. I didn’t keep track, but thanks to my commute, I think I listened to (and finished) around 20 books during the year. I covered a wide span of genres from tech to biographies to non-fiction. If you know of a great audiobook I should listen to, let me know. If you’re looking for a good book, just ask! I can give you a few ideas. As for reading… well, if you count children’s books I read a BUNCH (many over and over again), if we’re talking actual adult books… well, not so much.

  5. Push DARI to marketing success. Undetermined.

    I feel like I could give myself a “Check” for this one, but because “marketing success” is somewhat ambiguous, I’m leaving it at undetermined. 2017 was a big year for DARI. Our system sales grew significantly from 2016. We had some great PR, brought in some awesome new clients and are starting to get some brand recognition in the performance market. I launched a few websites, created new reports and marketing materials, developed strategies, got feedback from clients, implemented feedback from clients and a whole host of other things. I guess the biggest reason I’m not considering this a “check” is because I know there’s so much more to be done. DARI will be big. 2017 was about building a foundation and getting our ducks in order. 2018 is where things will get really exciting.

So now that leaves me to think about my 2018 goals and what I want to accomplish. I have a solid starts on a few ideas, but I’m giving myself another week or so to flesh them out a bit deeper. Look for another post on that coming soon.

A Sad Goodbye to the Birth and Women’s Center

A final photo of the Birth and Women's Center of Topeka, at least as I know it.September 30th marks the end of an era in Topeka as the Birth and Women’s Center (BWC) will be closing. I’ve known it was coming for a few months, but it’s been difficult for me to wrap my brain around. When I think about it, more often than not, I have to fight to hold back tears.

The obvious source of my emotion for this place is that I delivered all three of my babies there. Leo in 2009. Alex in 2013. Kate in 2015. All three births were assisted by different midwives, all of which felt like surrogate mothers/grandmothers to me. Each birthing experience was unique, and great, and totally perfect.

So of course that’s why I get sad about BWC closing…right?

When I think about it, even that doesn’t completely make sense. I know Tony and I are not having more children, so it’s not like I’m personally losing an opportunity.

Yet still I’m sad… And so I’ve thought about it, and thought about it.

There is more to those baby-having experiences than just producing small humans. Every time I came out of that old Victorian house, I emerged as a stronger, more empowered version of myself. There’s something about the confidence you gain from in being in total control, yet also completely surrendering to your body and letting mother nature do what it’s supposed to do. It’s like you’re a vessel for awesome superhuman powers. It’s one time you can truly see that you’re fully capable of completely amazing things.

So in the end, maybe that’s it. I’m sad because this place that’s meant so much to me won’t exist to serve that role for other women. And I think every woman should have the opportunity to experience that type of empowerment.

Thank you Birth & Women’s Center (and all of the nurses and midwives that have worked there through the years). I cannot adequately express my gratitude or explain what you have meant to me. You will always be one of my favorite places, even if it’s only in my memories.