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Monday, November 29, 2010

Slippery Winter Weather Memory

It's snowed a lot here in the past 8 days or so. I'd say we have accumulated about 18 inches. Yesterday it snowed for a better part of the day, and when we awoke this morning (after shoveling no less than 3 times yesterday), it was time to shovel again. I wandered out at noon time to run a few errands, and I found it to be a bit slick on the streets in our neighborhood as they had not yet been plowed.

I slid (just a bit) as I left the driveway, and for whatever reason, that simple slide reminded me of an incident that happened about 16 years ago when I lived in Peoria.

My friend, Cindy, was living with me for a few months right in the middle of the winter. I was housesitting for some friends who were out of the country on a mission. The house was on the west bluff in Peoria in an old neighborhood that still has cobblestone streets (which must have been a novelty at one point in time but are really now just kind of a pain).

It had ICED in Peoria (which is a curse far worse than snow). A neighbor had come to warn me about just how terrible the streets were. She recommended that if I absolutely had to go out that I get on a main road. She specifically warned me that the cobblestone streets were terribly slick. Does anyone think that this story ends well??

My ride? It was a Mecury Grand Marquis, circa 1987. This thing was a beast. I snagged this picture of the Internet, but it looked just like this. This bad boy guzzled gas and oil, but had a relatively smooth ride. I backed into a car once with it, and I barely even felt it; there was $5000.00 damage to the other lady's car (who didn't yield BTW...when she saw me and I didn't see her!)

My friend, Nathan, called it the "SS Wendy." It was a tank.
So, Cindy and I get in the car to go somewhere inconsequential, and I take a turn onto one of the side streets (which I'd been admonished NOT to do). The tank started sliding, and there was no stopping it. I pop the car in neutral, turn into the curve, pump the breaks and said, "Oh, Sh*%, Oh, Sh*%, Oh, Sh*%, Oh, Sh*%" about 50 times. We were careening right for...wait for it...a yellow VW bug.
I got the car "almost" stopped when we kind of "nudged" it in the bumper. We looked. There was no damage. How ever was I going to back the car off of the bug? Solution? It was so icy that we literally pushed the tank off of the car, spun the car enough to get it pointed in the right direction and drove promptly home.
We still talk about that story to this day. It is amazing that I didn't smash the crap out of that tiny car with the Mercury! Slip, slide and away! I miss the "SS Wendy." It didn't make it out to Utah with me in 1995. It had some unidentifiable electrical problem that caused it to just randomly stop running whilst I was driving down the street.
Be safe out there! If your neighbor warns to you, perhaps you should heed the warning! Peace out!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

When to persist and when to throw in the towel....

I am not a quitter. I typically finish what I begin, and I typically don't begin something unless I intend on finishing. I am a firm believer that the minute you give yourself an "out" that you will probably take it. This applies to all areas of my life.

Some of the biggest battles we've had with our kids revolves around trying to teach them that you make a commitment and stick to it....no matter what it is...from the seemingly small promises to be somewhere at a certain time to the bigger commitments that involve others (like a team sport commitment). Can I tell you that we have had knock down, screaming matches over these kinds of issues?

It usually goes something like this.....

Random Davis Kid (RDK)...."But I don't want to do it anymore"
Wendy: But you committed.
RDK: But I don't like it.
Wendy: Life is hard. Sometimes we have to do things that we don't like because we said we would.
RDK: But you can't "make me."

(This one always is tricky...it is a true statement that I cannot "make" a child do anything. I can, however, make life uncomfortable....)

Wendy: That is true, but if you don't do X, you don't get Y.
RDK...typically motivated by whatever the Y is will begin a negotiation with me.

The things they begin and want to quit are big things....band, a sports team, a type of lesson that we pay for. Lately, I've had several fits with Elle who "doesn't want to do band anymore." This child is SUPER talented on her horn. She plays clarinet, and she's recently (within the last 6 months) picked up the Saxophone. She's diligent, talented and quite good. Stupid teenage distractions get in the way. She wants to drop band to take....wait for it....Teen Living....this class which is essentially a home-ec class all trumped up and modernized. She wants to take it because "all of her friends are taking it."

Yes, you've guessed it, I am guilty of using the cliche about the bridge, jumping off of it...and what all of your other friends may/may not be doing.

This is not the first time that she has wanted to quit band. There are always tears...and always a few months later a shameless declaration from her saying something like, "I love band." Me, trying to withhold any smug look provides reassuring words of pride in her accomplishment. This time, she's been more creative than normal. She's started to figure me out. That's a dangerous position for me to be in.

Tonight she said, "I know you will probably say, 'No,' but will you just listen."
Me: Waiting
Elle: So, you know how I want to drop band. What if I drop band and take Speech and Debate.
Me: I didn't fall for it.

I told her that she could take Speech and Debate next year as a sophomore but that she couldn't drop band.

Anyone else struggle with this? I want her to do what she wants to do, but I want her to finish out a commitment. I also worry that if they "quit" certain things that they will forever regret it. It's a tricky business this parenting game. A few of my kids have already quit activities, and I know that they will regret it someday. *Sigh* To quote and RDK, I can't "make" them.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Our Thanksgiving Day

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year! The food was yummy, the family was all there, the table was beautiful....it was really, really nice. Here are some shots from our day.

Below: Elle beside her beautifully set table.
One of our three beautiful flower arrangements by the world's best florist, Karlie!
Elle used some little (fake) apples with stickers to create place setting "cards."
Just can't get enough pics of beautiful flowers!
Another angle of the table....
I was mostly behind the camera...but in the one pic of me, I'm fondling the milk?
Adam carving the turkey....and can I tell you that the turkey was scrum-diddley-umptious!
The whole gang: Dean, Carrie, Adam, Elle, Elise, Bradley, Mariah, Dominique and Garrett
Ring around the center island...which was laden with the eats...
Elise and Bradley
Garrett and Mariah...just so you know...he is seriously one of the nicest kids...but he doesn't like to smile in pictures! I'll get him next time!
Carrie and Adam...Carrie made her grandma's sweet potatoes and can I say...MEGA YUM!
What a great day! We're so blessed. We ate until we were seriously stuffed. The kids played Wii and watched movies and had a great time. Dean and I went to take a nap, and I paid Elle $20 to clean the kitchen. She's my go-to girl, and she can clean it SPOTLESS. It was a very good day!

I'm so proud of Elle!

For as long as I can remember, Elle has been our "go to" person in the kitchen. She loves to learn. She loves to help. And she follows directions to a "T." She also takes great satisfaction in a job well done.

One of the things that she has learned to do over the years is set a beautiful table. Sometimes she'll surprise me on a Sunday evening and set "her table" with pretty dishes, napkins and candles. As part of her Young Women's goals, she did a special project this Thanksgiving. This is what it says in the Young Women's personal progress manual: "Develop a skill you could use in your future home, such as cooking, sewing, making repairs, organizing, or designing. Teach that skill to someone, and explain how establishing a house of order (see D&C 109:8) is one of your divine roles."

I thought, "She's developed homemaking skills, now we just need to "teach that skill to someone." So, I got the idea to do mini-video segments of her planning to decorate the table and executing on the plan.

Here is our video journal. (Sometimes she is difficult to understand...I could get her to slow down OR enunciate...not both at the same time, but for the most part, I think she is understandable).


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It is difficult to understand this video. She says, "I have a blank slate" (referencing the table). She says that her first tip is to not take a table from the church unless you have permission from the Bishop (which we did). That's why there was the close up of the "Property of" on the table."

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Wasn't that fun!?! I'm so proud of her for all of her hard work and her willingness to do this project. It is not easy for anyone to demo in front of the camera as she did (trust me, I know! I'm a professional presenter!) I'm also proud of how much she learns about things around the house. All of the kids "know" how to clean, for example. (Not that they do it, but they do know how.) They know how to do their laundry. They know how to paint a room. They know how to fix small household appliances.

It sounds so cliche, but "they grow up so fast!" I worry that I haven't taught them enough! Moments like this make me proud that they do "know" how to do things...even if they don't act like it all the time.

Stay tuned for a video blog from Dominique. We taught her how to paint her room this summer....and let's just say that it took more gallons of BRIGHT YELLOW paint than anyone could have ever imagined! She is not nearly as thrilled to do video blogs, but she'll warm up to it!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I am thankful for....

This was stream of consciousness. I know that I have left many people and things out. Thankfully, I have tomorrow to make right it right! I have so many people, circumstances and things to be thankful for! I am so blessed!

My faith in God
My belief in Christ
My US citizenship
My family
My husband (yes, I know he is family, but he is special family, so I single him out)
(Now that I got the whole God, country, family thing out of the way, I can be more shallow.)
My job
My intellect
My ability to reason
The fact that I can read
Warm blankets and my own bed
HDTV
The Internet
Technology that allows me to work from home
Technology that allows me to stay connected to my kids, friends and family
Three bathrooms in one house
Our home
Our neighbors (at least most of them)
Our vehicles that are running well and are almost paid off
Enough food to eat
Enough food to share with those who don't have quite as much
A beautiful view of the mountains from my master bedroom
Pretty plates that we use only at Thanksgiving
Fresh flower arrangements
Online shopping
McDonald's (yes, I AM thankful for McDonald's...I've been there more than any other single restaurant in my whole life)
Pictures of our family, friends and the most important parts of our life
Pedicures and Massages
My DVR
Dominique's sense of humor
Elle's annoying laugh (because it means she's happy)
Mariah's stubbornness....because it means she's standing her ground for what she believes/thinks
Dean's ability to forgive others, especially me
Bradley's faith (that is most of the time buried deep in him)
The sound of great music
The blessings of the spirit
That I'm unconditionally loved by many
That I know this earthly life is only temporal and that there is a much greater plan for me.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

BOM Challenge

Today Elle, Dominique and I began reading the Book of Mormon from page 1. As part of their Young Women's goals, they need to read it in its entirety. It's a daunting task. I've read it no less than 7 times from cover to cover. On two occasions, I read it in 7 days. It was about a 3 hour a day commitment, but it was such a sense of accomplishment.

I don't know if you've ever tried to sit down and read the scriptures (any scriptures) from cover to cover, but it's not easy. In the course of my life time, I've read the Old and New Testament in their entirety, but only once have I read the NT from cover to cover.

We were challenged in Stake Conference so just READ the Book of Mormon...not necessarily finish it by February (when we have our next conference). So, since I have three solid weeks of vacation between now and the end of the year (as do the girls), I asked them if they would be up to the challenge. They were a bit hesitant at first, but I threw in a new snuggie for each of us and the promise of hot chocolate during marathon reading sessions. They agreed.

Today we read for TWO and a HALF HOURS....in two separate reading sessions. Do you know how hard that is for a 14 and a 12 year old? We read out loud and take turns. We hit our goal of 40 pages. I'm so proud of them. It won't be easy, but it will be a good goal to work on. I've organized it so that we don't read EVERY day during our vacation. I've broken it into 13 days. Only 12 more to go.

I'm confident that we can meet this goal, and I know that they'll be SO PROUD of themselves when they've done it.

What will you challenge yourself to do? Is there a project that you've been wanting to do? Got a book in you that you've been meaning to write? I'm a big believer that time-sensitive goals are great motivators! Please share if you have any ideas for your next "big thing."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Top 10 Books....

that I've read in the last few years that have left an impression on me.

I realize that reading preferences are very personal, and what resonates with me will not necessarily resonate with you. So, I don't consider these recommendations necessarily....just books that I really enjoyed. They are in no particular order.

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson (Fiction)
Under the Dome by Stephen King (Sci-Fi)
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (Historical Fiction)
World without End by Ken Follett (Historical Fiction)
The Other Boelyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory (Historical Fiction)
Empire of Liberty by Gordon Wood (History, Non-fiction)
Hunger Games (the entire series)by Suzanne Collins (Teen Sci-Fi)
The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff (Historical Fiction)
Crisis of the House Divided by Harry Jaffa (History/Political Science, non-fiction)
She Taught Me to Eat Artichokes by Mary Kay Shanley (Children's book)

Remember "Reading is FUNdamental" ;o)

Please share a favorite title if you think I might enjoy; I'm always looking for my next great read!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The best part of a photo shoot....

I asked my friend, Daisy, if I could use these pictures from our photo shoot. With her permission, I wanted to share a few of them with you!

We took our pictures on a rainy Saturday, and we just happened to find the two hours of the day when the rain had dissipated. The leaves at the location were simply gorgeous! They were gently falling off of the trees, and honestly, it was just idyllic. I had the brainiac idea that if we could get a picture with the leaves falling in the background that it would look really cool....so Dean indulged the request, and Daisy took a bunch of pictures.

For this first attempt, he wadded up some leaves and kind of threw them at us. This is how those pictures turned out...
Clearly Elle and I are amused. Having wet leaves thrown at us was not really the effect I was going for. Here's another one where we are still laughing about it...The look on Mariah's face is classic. Next, Dean got the idea to get in the tree and "shake the leaves on us" to create the effect that I was looking for. Here is a picture of Dean in the tree.
Remember....it had been raining...so as soon as he started shaking the tree, it was really obvious that this was a bad idea. Leaves fell...and so did the left over raindrops.
This is me telling everyone to power through it and smile for the camera. Elle with closed eyes was not helpful...Riah doesn't want to get wet, and Dom just thinks it's all funny.
This is a close as we got to a picture with falling leaves. Major fail for a picture taking moment...and it definitely looked like we were trying too hard. Oh well! It was probably the most fun we had on the shoot, and it is definitely the part we will remember.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The importance of sitting down for dinner....

Even with our crazy, busy schedules...when we are all at home, we sit down to dinner. I can't tell you how important this is to our family. It is the best way to start a conversation with our kids (and we have them captive for at least 20 minutes!) We've literally had some of the best conversations that started around the dinner table.

Tonight was a classic Sunday night meal (minus Dean who is fast asleep because he has to get up at 10:15 PM to go to work). We had pot roast with carrots and potatoes. We had warm bread with butter. Elle set the table with a table cloth and cloth napkins, and to touch it all off, she lit candles. I love making the table look pretty even when it's just a Sunday dinner. Elle has become my go-to girl for table decs. We have a book that shows you how to fold dinner napkins (it was a gift, I would never buy that), and she follows the step-by-step directions to fold beautiful napkins.

I love that my girls know how to cook meals and know how to set a nice table. I love that we talk about everything from church to sex at our table. I love that we laugh, make fun of each other and play rousing games of "remember when" when we sit around our table.

The week Dean and I got married, we bought our table. It's fallen apart, and Dean has put screws in the bottom to hold it together. It's a mess of a table...the shellac is all coming off...it's had super glue permanently affixed to it; it has been gouged by sharp knives (don't ask), nail polish remover has ruined various parts of it....but it's our table. The age marks on it are all earned. We've done countless craft projects at that table. We do homework at that table (even me). That ragged, old table is part of our history.

One thing that I hope my kids will do is try their very best...as often as possible to sit down to dinner with their families (when they have them). It's so, so important.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Life is a journey, not a destination.....

When I graduated from Virginia Tech, my friend Leona gave me a bracelet with that written on it. I wore it proudly on that day back in 2007. I've always liked that phrase, and I've always tried to enjoy the journey.

I'm a firm believer that I can influence the path that I take in life by making certain choices, taking some calculated risks, moving outside of my comfort zone, working hard, admitting when I'm wrong, letting go, and by moving forward...always forward. The path is not always easy, and sometimes my life journey has weird detours that are unexpected.

One thing that makes my journey worth it is Dean. I love him very much, and together we've been able to tackle some difficult things. When the kids are all moved out, we'll have each other. He's my best friend, my confidant. I tell him everything. I trust him. I love him, and I'm so glad that we are on our journey together.

When we had our family photo shoot a few weeks ago, I asked my friend Daisy to take a few pictures of us walking down this gorgeous path. They turned out so wonderful, that I had to share them. These pictures remind me of that "journey."
To see other amazing pictures taken by my friend Daisy, you can visit her site by clicking >>here<<.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'm really not that interesting....

....at least not enough to blog every single day. So, 11 days into this effort, I'm a bit stumped. I decided to just write about a few of my favorite things. I taped the Today Show yesterday (sign of total geek-dom) so that I could watch Matt Lauer interview George W. Bush "live." Bush did surprising well. I still totally disagree with almost all of his foreign policy decisions, but other than that, he seems like good people. One of the other special features on the show yesterday was an interview with the cast of Sound of Music...including Julie Andrews and all of the children.

So, today...in honor of one of my favorite musical movies of all time, I will share a few of my favorite things. (There will be no "raindrops on roses" or "whiskers on kittens" in my list, though).

Favorite time of day: Between 10:00 PM and 2:00 AM (I am most productive at that time.)
Favorite city to visit for work: San Diego (Dean and I would live there if we could afford it.)
Favorite season: Fall (for the colors)
Favorite thing to do when I have nothing to do at all: Watch a movie and/or sleep
Favorite genre of book: Historical fiction (especially from England 1300-1700s), Sci-fi is a close second
Favorite thing about my job: The people I work with and the people I meet
Favorite indulgent snack: Little Debbie brownies
Favorite classical composer: Vivaldi
Favorite vacation: Me and Mike...17 days in Europe...trip of a lifetime!
Favorite actors: Gregory Peck, Martin Sheen and Liam Neeson
Favorite movie: Sense and Sensibility
Favorite cities: New York, Zagreb and Rome
Favorite holiday: Thanksgiving (no pressure, love being with friends and family)
Favorite TV show: too many to name, but I've seen every episode of Friends, ER, Lost, Mad Men and 24...just to name a few
Favorite flower to receive: Roses
Favorite thing about my husband: He is my best friend

Well, it might not be "brown paper packages tied up with string," but these are a few of my favorite things.

Peace, out.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I think I created this monster....

Tonight I had a colossal fight with Elle...I mean....a big one. We haven't had one of these in a long time. She knows just those triggers that set me off like the space shuttle into orbit. I've recently reverted to the "go to your room" strategy. That gives me a minute to calm down and act like an adult. Boy, last night I blew it...and what started off as a little thing escalated into a big thing. Please tell me that someone else can relate?

My trigger...the one that always, always, always pushes that big button? When one of the kids tells me, "No." Last night it was, "Elle, go help your sister with the dishes."

Reply: "No." (To Elle's defense, it wasn't her night to do dishes, but she didn't run the dishwasher from the night before...which left no place for the dirty dishes to go...so I asked her to help Dom hand wash them so they could get done.)

Me: "Don't tell me no."
Reply: "No, no, NO, NO!, NO!!!"

Me......blood immediately boiling....went into a finger shaking rage, "You don't get to tell one of your parents no."

Reply: "You can't MAKE me do anything. And it is my RIGHT to say no."

Oh dear...it got much worse before it got better. She is a nearly 15 year old girl...who doesn't want to be told what to do. I'm a 40 year old woman who doesn't like to be told, "No" by 14 year old girl. No one likes to be forced. No one. But I have super low tolerance for kids telling me, "No."

But did I create this monster? In part, yes. I always try to empower might girls and talk about their rights. We have talked long hours about how no one can "make" them do anything....do well in school, play in the band, obey their parents. We want them to make choices about those things so that they know that they chose. What they also know is that they might have a right to say "No" to a parent, but they don't get to chose what happens after they say, "No." So, her cell phone is disabled.

In the middle of our argument she said, "I'm going to be a horrible mom who yells at her kids because you yell at me." Good heavens! I won't own that one. We'll see how it is when her kids push her buttons (and I can't wait until they do....I will take great satisfaction in those moments ;-) I explained to her that while I inherited some negative qualities of my mom's yelling, that we all make choices as to the kind of parent we want to be. I can't believe she's already accusing me of influencing her bad parenting when she's only 14!

You know what it is about Elle? We're actually a lot alike. No child wants to hear that about a parent with whom they butt heads, but it's true. She has inherited/learned a lot of my personality traits. She tries to logic out of an argument (I'm still better than her at it, but it's only because I have 25 extra years of practice; she defends herself (yeah!); she won't back down if she doesn't think she hasn't done something wrong (not good all the time...but in concept...well, we need to work on that); she is adamant about what she wants and is willing to work hard to get it.

Yes, the most volatile relationship in the family tends to be between Wendy and Elle. We yell it all out and usually walk away the better for it. Anyone else have those "intense" relationship with their teen? I could seriously use some better strategies...and don't tell me to deep breathe and count to 10...that doesn't work for me.

Who knew that this little girl....
...who loves to long board, is a black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do and prides herself in being an individual...would be so outspoken that she pushes me to seriously freak out irrationally.





(This pic was taken for a modeling gig that Elle did when she was little. Isn't she just the cutest freaking thing you've ever seen? See that shaking finger? Yeah, I think it might have gotten wagged my way yesterday...if not that finger than the middle one, for sure!)

You know what though? I have so many more great moments with Elle than I do these kind of moments. So, on those rough days, I'll try to remember images like these....when she's all of those great things...without the yelling, "No" in my face part ;-)


Have I mentioned lately how hard it is being the parent of 4 teenagers?

My friend, Daisy, took this amazing picture of Elle. http://www.andphotographyblog.blogspot.com/

Monday, November 8, 2010

A tribute to my friend, Wendy

It has been 7 years since my dear friend, Wendy Sue Huntsman, unexpectedly passed away when she was just 40 years old. I can't believe how quickly these years have gone by, and I can't believe how much I still miss her. I met Wendy when I began working at the University of Utah in 1996, and we eventually became good friends.

I loved working with her! We had so many good times together.

I loved hearing her talk about her family. She loved her son, Ethan, so much! In fact, on her voice mail, she kept an old message from him. She would listen to it from time to time, and it would always make her smile. I remember her courtship with Doug and their beautiful wedding.

Wendy and I would spend time making handmade cards for nearly every holiday you could imagine. I think on our last really long stint we had breakfast, lunch and dinner at her house. We would send Doug on food runs for us. My bum hurt so bad from sitting that Wendy bought me a special cushion! We loved our marathon "stamping sessions!" (We even went to two stamping conventions in Las Vegas! Wendy talked me out of blowing all of my money at the blackjack table and played "dealer" for me for over an hour!)

What I miss most about Wendy is that she was such a good listener. She was one of the people that I called when I was sad and when I was happy. I told her almost every aspect of my life. For months and years after she passed, I thought, "Oh, I wish I could pick up the phone and call Wendy." As crazy as this sounds, sometimes I just talk out loud to her. I believe that her spirit lives on, and while I know she can't answer me, I know that we are never too far from those we love.

A few years ago, I visited Wendy's grave. I missed her so much. I wrote her a letter, brought her favorite flowers (pink carnations) and sat down beside her and had a good, long talk.

The last time I saw Wendy was about a week before her death. Her son, Ethan, had been at my house for a small Halloween party that we hosted for Bradley. I took Ethan home, and I was going to just drop him off and leave. "Something" told me to go in and say hello, and I did. I spent some time talking with her and being in awe that we had sons that were the same age (at that time, I had only been Bradley's' step mom for a few WEEKS!) We talked about having Bradley spend some time at their house with Ethan. I miss that we never got to share those moments...and that I haven't had her to talk me through all of my trials as a mom.

I miss her deeply. I look forward to a day that I will see her again! Wendy Sue Huntsman was such a great lady who influenced more people than I think she'll ever know.

Life is a blessing, and unexpected circumstances can take our loved ones away. Don't hesitate to tell someone you care about that you love them! Don't save hugs for tomorrow. If you feel "something" that tells you to pick up the phone and call someone, do it! I miss you, Wendy Sue I!

Love,
Wendy Sue II

Friday, November 5, 2010

I am a "Giant Cubs" fan...

I've been a Cubs fan for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Illinois, and I spent my entire summer days waiting with anticipation for Bozo to come on at Noon on WGN. Back in the day, Wrigley didn't have lights, so any Cubs home game typically had a start time of about 1:15 PM. Yes, it wasn't that long ago that they called games for darkness in Chicago.
When I was really young, I spent summers with my dad. He would come home from work, plop on the couch and turn on the Cubs games. This put a huge cramp in my cartoon viewing time, but I honestly think that is when I first started watching games on TV. My most vivid memories are of the ivy wall. As I got older, it was a natural transition to keep up with the Cubbies. I had a team poster, and I had memorized every player's name, number and position. At the age of 11, I learned how to score a game, and I was hooked. I knew the Cubs batting line up by heart. I knew their batting averages, and I had my favorite relief pitchers. The first team poster I had was from 1980; here's a blast from the past...My favorite pitcher back then was Rick Sutter, and my favorite relief pitcher was Lee Smith. Billy Buck was by far my favorite team player.
I spent many a hot Illinois day in the backyard or on the back patio slathered in baby oil (and who ever thought that was a good idea was an idiot!) working on my sunburn with a transistor radio....and listening to the game. I loved to watch games on TV and listen to them on the radio. Harry Caray's voice filled my summer afternoons. (Miss that old man!)
The Cubbies are classic American baseball. Wrigley is iconic. What is not to love about the "men in blue." Well, they are also like a lot of other men....they broke my heart again and again. In the late 1980s, I thought they had a real chance at it, but they lost the National League Championship to the Giants in a 4-1 series outcome. That might have been the last year that my heart was really in the game. Oh, how I loved those boys! "As sure as the ivy on the center field wall, the men in blue are gonna win it all!" We sang this. We believed this. Mark Grace...Ryno...Dunston...Dawson.....what a great team! My favorite pitchers were Greg Maddux, Rick Sutcliffe and Mike Bilecki.
I spent the fall of my Sophomore year at Bradley watching games with my friend, Glover. We had every irrational superstition that you could imagine regarding our Cubbies. We tried to will them into the World Series, but it just didn't happen. We would have had a hunger strike for them if we thought it would work. But as in years past, we ended the season as disappointed and heartbroken Cubs fans. Loyal until the end. Hoping for a better outcome next year.

1994 and the baseball strike put a sour taste in my mouth for a long time.
When I moved to Utah in 1995, I no longer had WGN, and it was tough to follow my team. There was no way in hell I would ever root for the Rockies (damn, expansion team....I really hated that they did that in 1993).
I was so hopeful in 2003....then that famous "fan catching the foul ball thing" happened...and well. Dean and I were flipping through channels when we saw the point in the game right after Bartman caught the ball. I had no idea what had happened, but you could tell from the crowd that it was something pretty bad. I remember saying to Dean, "Did someone die? What is wrong with everyone?" Poor guy. Poor Cubs. Poor Cubs fans.
You know my favorite thing about being a Cubs fan? It's predictable and it helps you deal with disappointment. It's kind of like being in an abusive relationship. You just keep coming back for more even though you know you shouldn't. Being a Cubs fan really prepared me for my days as a hard-core Utah Jazz fan. (What other team has gone up against the Bulls in Back to Back NBA finals and lost both times.....so heartbreaking!)
I love my Cubbies; they are part of my soul. In fact, I sleep every night with a Cubs blanket that my mom made for me; that sounds really juvenile, but the blanket is really comfy!
I tried something new this year, though. When I turned 40, I picked a new team. I figured, I'm half way to dead; I gave the Cubs 40 years, so I'll give someone else my next 40. I chose the San Francisco Giants. I have taken a lot of flack for this, but for the love of the game, I kind of had to move on. My Cubbies are still in my heart, but I've got new boyfriends now.
Two summers ago, Dean and I took the Domi and Elle to a Giants game. I love that ballpark! We had the unbelievable experience of being there the night that Jonathan Sanchez pitched a no hitter.
Talk about a wonderful opportunity. There wasn't one person in that whole stadium in their seats. The kid delivered, and we were hooked. You'll notice from this picture that I'm still 39 and have not made the leap from Chicago to SF quite yet. Yes, I wore my Cubs hat to the SF game. And, yes, Dean wore a Padres hat to the SF game (the Padres played the Giants that night).
This year we took Mariah to opening night at AT&T Park.Tim Lincecum was awarded his 2nd Cy Young award. They lost to the Braves, but boy, did we have a great time. A few nights later, I went to a game with my manager, and we were literally three rows back, right behind the away on-deck circle. See the camera guy in the lower-right corner...Yeah, that's how close we were..the camera guy obstructed the first base line. See the guy behind him in the black hat? Yeah, that's a guy in the Pirates dugout (we could totally see right into the dugout). Killer seats! These two pictures (above were taken with my low end camera, but you can still see how awesome the seats were).
So, how did my first year as a Giants fan pan out? Can you say 2010 World Series Champs? We had SO MUCH FUN rooting for them, and we can't wait to head back to AT&T Park next season! So, to my men in blue, I still love you; I always will, but in my mid-life crisis, I've had to upgrade you for a newer team. You never forget your first love, though. So that's why I'm calling my new state of fan-dom: "Giant Cubs Fan."