Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lesson Learned

It's pretty safe to say that the middle two weeks of June were a pretty crappy time for me...Little Guy had his surgery on June 11, and for two weeks was not only in constant pain, but stuck inside recovering when he should have been out enjoying the first two weeks of summer. At the end of our two weeks in quarantine, the United States Men's National Team was knocked out of the World Cup. By Ghana. Again.

Like I said, crappy two weeks. Awful to the Nth degree.

I spent Sunday in full stages-of-grief mode. I bemoaned the fact that Little Guy missed two birthday parties, the first session of swim lessons, and a trip to see Thomas the Tank Engine at the local railroad. I mourned the US team's loss to Ghana and their missed opportunities. I nursed the sting of loss. Luckily, before I spiraled out of control, Monday came.

Not traditionally anyone's favorite day, no one can argue that Monday is always the day for fresh starts. Little Guy started his first day of swim lessons! We opened our paddling pool, sandbox, and umbrella picnic table - we spent the entire day outside splashing and playing and picnic-ing. And I came to grips with our wonderful soccer team's loss. Those boys gave an entire country something to be proud of. They gave their all in every single match and played with undeniable heart and spirit. It was amazing the way they captured the love of the entire nation, even those Americans who aren't usually soccer fans. It was heart-warming the way the country continued to respect and be grateful to them even when they lost.

I guess the lesson of all this IS the lesson...every difficult time you go through teaches you something. With the Little Guy, we went through two incredibly tough weeks, but the happy ending we got was worth every minute. With our soccer team, we weren't lucky enough to get that happy ending. But, supporting them, seeing the country rally around them, and being awed by their courage, character, and never-say-die attitude -- I wouldn't have traded a minute of that for the world.

Everything happens for a reason, and whether you come out happier on the other side or not, you come out wiser and stronger nonetheless. Lesson learned.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Once upon a time, there was a group of young men with a dream. Now, in spite of the fact that these boys worked very hard at being the best they could be, they met with doubters at almost every turn. They were dismissed, mocked, and worst yet, ignored. But these boys had a dream. And in the face of all the nay-sayers, these boys kept faith alive...

We've all long heard, "Americans can't play soccer." Or the infamous English newspaper headline, "E(ngland)-A(lgeria)-S(lovenia)-Y(anks)" Well, I think Team USA has proved one thing today all the detractors, in the United States and across the globe - YOU'RE WRONG. Today, not only did the United States win their game against Algeria, but we garnered enough points and goals throughout the past three matches that we won our group - for the first time since 1930. In the 91st minuted of the match, Landon Donovan scored the game-winning goal that advanced us to the next round of the World Cup.

"This team embodies what the American spirit is about," Donovan said. "We had a goal disallowed the other night. We had another good goal disallowed tonight. But we just keep going. And I think that's what people admire so much about Americans. And I'm damn proud."

You said it, Landon - the American spirit. We keep on keeping on. We keep driving, enduring, pursuing. Today, you are proud. We are proud of you. And we are all proud to be Americans.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Underneath your tough "guy's guy" exterior hides the heart of a gentle, loving, understanding, appreciative and unselfish daddy. We love you.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Today, Team USA played Slovenia in the second round of the Group stages of the World Cup. The first half of the game, the United States looked about how pretty much the entire world perceives us. We looked sloppy, disorganized, and, to be frank, like we didn't belong in this tournament. We gave up two goals to Slovenia, and I'll bet everyone, fans and detractors alike, had written off the US's chances. But, whatever coach Bob Bradley said to the boys at half-time, or what they said to each other, must have hit home. The Yanks came out for the second half with their proverbial guns blazing.

It's a cliche, but this was definitely a story of two halves. Team USA played their hearts out after the half. Captain Landon Donovan scored an absolutely beautiful goal to put us right back in the game. Next, Michael Bradley, son of our manager, scored the equalizer. In the final minutes of the match, Maurice Edu volleyed a free kick from our Landy-cakes, and we took the match 3-2!! And that's the fairy-tale, comeback ending we deserved. Unfortunately, the match official, Koman Coulibaly, saw a penalty in the play and called the goal back. The final score was a 2-2 draw.

I could go on and on about how unfair this was. About how spot-on, penalty-free the goal actually was. But I've come to terms with it, I think (although we were CLEARLY robbed!). US Soccer Daily's blog has a pretty accurate description of what US fans felt today.

However, whether we gained 3 points or 1 today, the heart we showed in today's game was undeniable. People around the globe discount the United States when it comes to soccer, and I think today's match may just have them doing a little re-thinking. We still have a long way to go to catch up with countries whose football is a way of life and a national passion. But it's irrefutable that we are getting stronger every single year. We have the best team we've ever had and we're just going to get better. Never underestimate the power of the American spirit -- it can take us anywhere. Don't tread on me, baby!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Last Friday, Little Guy had his tonsils and adenoids removed. He was not resting well, waking up from a full-night's sleep grumpy and still tired. The specialist he saw determined that the only way to address this was for him to have this surgery.

The surgery went fine, it was a routine procedure, and was finished in about 20 minutes. However, his recovery and recuperation are another story completely. After the first two nights being uneventful, the pain in his throat is now at the point where it is getting worse before it gets better. The past two nights, he's slept very fitfully, waking up almost like clockwork every two hours or so. To top it off, he's also taking Tylenol with codeine, which makes him very groggy, and, I would imagine, makes it tougher to get back to normal.

Of course, me being me, I did some research online to find other stories of similar situations. I found a blog, called 'Type A Mama' (a kindred spirit!) and Little Guy seems to be following the footsteps of her son almost exactly. (Read about her experience here.)

So, for the two weeks between the procedure and his follow-up appointment with the surgeon, Little Guy and I are hunkering down, drinking lots of water, getting lots of snuggles in, and probably watching too much Thomas the Tank Engine. We are soldiering through this metamorphosis of his, looking for that light at the end of the tunnel which will hopefully shine on a brand-new, rested, happy little boy.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Love United. Hate Glazer: A Fan's Paradox

As much as I am devoted to Manchester United, admittedly, I am a relative newcomer to the club. My husband has been supporting them for over 20 years, and at the beginning of our marriage, I was simply a casual observer. It's a whole different story now! To say that Manchester United is merely a part of our family life is an understatement. We have made supporting United an entrenched family tradition.

Currently, the ownership of Manchester United is the source of great protest by the United faithful. They feel that the current owner, Malcolm Glazer et al, are driving this proud and great football club into the ground. With soaring debts, no money to acquire good players, the supporters have banded together in protest, and are doing their best to hit the owners where it hurts - in the pocketbook.

So, using mighty dollar (or pound, in this case) as a weapon, the truly dedicated are even giving up their season tickets. Those who can't bear to not see United play will not buy the new season's kit (uniform) in protest. But, I wonder, where does that leave the international fan?

The protest begs the question -- a true fan loves and supports his/her club. Without the option of purchasing season tickets and absolutely nothing else, how are foreign supporters supposed to demonstrate our loyalty to the club? There's a very fine line between supporting your club and supporting the owners. Of course, I want the club to be owned by trustworthy, steadfast and devoted leaders. But, I also want the players, other fans and really, the entire world to know that I am a United girl - through and through.

And beyond the obvious indications of support that manifest themselves via merchandise, doesn't sucking the owners dry also starve the players, too? If the club's owners have no money, doesn't that translate to less money for our players? The inability for them to get new teammates that play at their level? The forcing of players to look, in spite of their heart's desires, for greener pastures?

I don't mean to insinuate that what I know about the Glazer situation even scratches the surface its complexity. To a certain degree, I think there are some things about it that you can only understand if you live in Manchester. I am just trying to figure out what my duty as a fan in America is, and how to do the right thing for our beloved players.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Glory Days...

"In the wink of a young girl's eye, glory days. Yeah, they'll pass you by, glory days...." Bruce Springsteen

Let's go Fightin' Blue Hens! Woot!

Last night my husband and I went back in time. Just for one night, and really only in our minds, but still! We attended "Mug Night on the Green" at the University of Delaware Alumni Weekend.

The night had us slipping back into our old college roles: I played the blonde sorority chick, while my husband starred as the quintessential fraternity brother, (minus the beer funnel accessory, though...!)

To start, we stayed in the dorms! Actual, real residence halls that were vacated by university students only a week prior. Our 'suite' was two dorm rooms, connected by a bath - each room with its own twin bed, of course. It's been a looong time since the husband and I spent the night together in a twin bed. Needless to say, we ended up sleeping in the two separate rooms!

After we checked in at our dorms, we headed to the husband's fraternity house for a pre-party happy hour. At our university, EVERY fraternity/sorority event (formal, date party, etc) was always accompanied by a pre-party happy hour, and a post-party late night. Leave it to college kids to make a four hour event last at least eight hours! At any rate, we will strolled down memory lane and into the grand fraternity house in which we spent a lot of time. My husband actually lived there, and between parties, mixers and then dating him, I felt like I did, too. It was so great to see everyone! There were folks there that we had not seen in the 15 years since we graduated from school.

After the happy hour, we headed down to the mall (it's a really big square of grass flanked by academic buildings - they call it "The Green" now) to Mug Night. When we were in school, THE bar to go to was the Stone Balloon, and every Thursday night, they had Mug Night. You bought a mug at the beginning of the year, and every Thursday night, beer refills in that mug were only a dollar.

At Mug Night, the Delaware band called Love Seed Mama Jump was an institution. They were playing at the reunion last night, so the time warp was complete! We had such an incredible time, catching up with people we hadn't seen in forever, drinking from our commemorative mugs, and dancing the night away to our college band. At one point while we were dancing, I think I closed my eyes and actually thought it was 1994 again. But, believe me, when I woke up the next morning, I knew it was 2010!!

Taking a trip back in time was quite a lark. My husband and I both had a grand time. Love you, Delaware, but I couldn't do it all over again! I look back on my years there not only fondly, but also with a little awe -- did we really do that EVERY weekend??

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Who Knows What the Future Holds...

Yesterday, I went to my niece's preschool graduation. It was just a program that the children performed for their parents, and they received a little certificate. But, it really got me to thinking. Next year at this time, it will be Little Guy's turn. And then he'll be in Kindergarten. In two years, my babies will both be in school full-time. What's to become of Mama when that happens?

It's been absolutely priceless to be able to stay at home with the boys for the past five years. I've been able to be there to see all of their baby 'firsts': first step, first word, first food, first everything. Everything has been irreplaceable, and I wouldn't trade one minute of it for the world. But, I have to admit, there are those days when stay-at-home-mamaness starts feels like I'm sentenced to a loony bin! I envy my husband's job, even when he's had an awful day, because he at least had that awful day with other grown-ups!

So what do I do in two years? Some days, all I can think about is getting a 'real' job, going back being a professional. I would get to wear my cute suits, exercise my brain, and have colleagues again! But, I would miss having the flexibility to attend the boys' sporting events, being able to stay home with them when they're sick.

Another key factor is money. Vulgar, "everybody wants me," money. When I worked, it was nothing for me to go buy a $600 Burberry bag because I'd happened to walk by the shop during lunchtime. Now, being on one income, we can still manage quite nicely, but we definitely have a stricter budget. As the boys get older, I always want to have enough to provide them with whatever they need. Their toys and clothes are going to get progressively more expensive as they grow up. I never want to say, "No, we can't afford to send you on the school ski trip." And college?? Yikes.

What is a mama to do...?

Weathering Wanderlust III - Prague, Czech Republic

My first job on Capitol Hill was for an infamously um, shall we say...detail-oriented (*cough* insane *cough*) Congresswoman from the mid-West. During my tenure, she was invited to go on a Congressional junket to Prague. Of course, this meticulous Congresswoman insisted that I not only detail her itinerary for her, but also create an entire 3-ring binder for her about each place in Prague that they would be visiting, an entire tome on the geography, climate and culture of the city itself. Now, creating background material for your boss when you work on the Hill isn't strange. As a staffer, it's your job to provide your boss with all the information he/she could possibly need. Basically, you have to predict any potential question or situation they might faced with, and supply them with a place to find the answer/decorum/pronunciation/measurements -- at their fingertips.

So it wasn't unusual to produce an informational packet on Prague for the Congresswoman. However, she demanded that it include walking routes through the city (although they'd be using automobiles), details about monuments they wouldn't see, and even menus for the restaurants they'd be patronizing! In the end though, I should thank this unnamed Congresswoman -- by giving me that incredibly mundane, time-consuming task, she gave me a great desire to experience for myself this magical city filled with rich history and beautiful architecture.

We've had several friends visit Prague, and all came back singing the praises of this Czech town. The Prague Castle (the largest in the world), Kafka's grave, and the Metronome (actually functioning!) are among the beautiful city's offerings, just to name a few. Along with the beautiful sights to see, there is also apparently very good shopping in Prague (who knew?). And of course, we would have to go see Slavia Prague - for our family, what visit would be complete without a soccer match?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Crystal Palace is SAVED!!

As we all know, I am a die-hard Manchester United supporter. But, unfortunately, I've never made it to Manchester to see them. Last year, when my husband and I spent a long weekend in London to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary, I insisted that we see a football game. (It was between this trip and the last that I had morphed from casual United supporter into a full-fledged footy maniac!)

Well, obviously, there was no way on earth that we would set foot into Stamford Bridge or the Emirates if United weren't the visiting team. So, we decided to head to south London and Selhurst Park to see the Championship side, Crystal Palace. It was actually quite a good fit, considering that our area in the USA has its own Crystal Palace -- Crystal Palace Baltimore.

Selhurst Park was amazing, the home supporters' pub was boisterous and happy, and the match itself was incredibly atmospheric and exciting. All in all, we had a marvelous time celebrating Palace's win and experiencing true English football.

Alas, this year has been a rough one for Crystal Palace Football Club. They have long been saddled with financial woes, and in January, they went in to administration (bankruptcy). With administration comes a deduction of 10-points, and the Eagles were able to play well enough to avoid regulation in spite of it. But, even the club's football skills weren't enough to put them in the clear: their huge debts (£30million) resulted in the threat of liquidation today at 3pm GMT.

But, happily, today turned out like a movie script! A group of London businessmen, called CPFC 2010, swooped in at the eleventh hour to save the proverbial day!! Crystal Palace is saved!! There are many grateful hearts across the world today - those who've loved Palace all of their lives, those in Baltimore who love Palace, and those who love the institution of football.