Category: Soccer

Soccer Saturday

So, the soccer season is over. Albus’s team played hard and performed better than anticipated, but it wasn’t quite enough to send them on to the semi-finals tomorrow. Watching from the sidelines kept me happy; Albus is not the strongest player, and I felt less of a sense of responsibility and investment, and could enjoy the ebb and flow of the game more as a result. I was relieved that his performance wouldn’t make or break the outcome of the game. No one was counting on him for big goals. Kevin experienced an opposite effect, finding Albus’s games harder to watch than AppleApple’s, seeing all the missed opportunities that a bolder player would have taken. Maybe I should go to Albus’s games, and Kev should go to AppleApple’s, and we’ll all live happily ever after.
I see more soccer sidelines in our future. The grass is fine, there’s a big sky, and the non-playing kids entertain themselves with snacks and play. I’m almost–okay, not even almost, but actually–looking forward to next season.

Summer Summer Summer

I want to capture the flavour of our summer holiday so far. It’s been busy, but relaxing. We started with a camping trip, and the beach, experienced a couple nights of overnight camp (and for Kevin and me, experienced only having two children around–it was quieter, but the workload was not noticeably different, except that the younger ones missed the entertainment of the older ones). I enjoyed doing a long drive with the kids, and could imagine attempting something like that again–destination as yet unknown. Though it does go against my no-driving summer. Confession: We have done extremely poorly with that plan. Drove to camp, to beach, to camp, to home, to camp, all the while enjoying the air conditioning. For our Friday outing, we walked, but it’s not a huge accomplishment–the movie theatre is uptown. We saw Shrek Forever After, which was more entertaining than I anticipated–and the kids were awesome the entire time. Five kids, one parent, and no bathroom breaks, spilled drinks, or even excessive whining. Thank heavens, because I’d had a writing morning, and I am finding the transition between writing and parenting particularly challenging; translation: Mama’s been grumpy.

AppleApple had her soccer tournament this past week. We dragged out the whole family (some of them kicking and screaming) to the Saturday matches. I felt like a terrible parent, because honestly, folks, I squirmed the whole time she was playing. It’s a peculiar pain–mental anguish. Shouldn’t I be enjoying this, as a loving caring parent? Or maybe it’s that I care too much? In the second game, the ref called back a penalty kick on which AppleApple had just scored an amazing goal (he apparently had called an indirect penalty kick, but gave the children no direction or explanation about what that meant; he, of course, was just a kid himself, and looked pretty nervous; but it was a sad moment to see her beautiful goal called back). And I muttered to Kevin, I just can’t take this, and walked down to where my other three children were wrestling in the grass; but I couldn’t go far. I knew if something happened I’d want to be there for it. And sure enough, after a few deep breaths, I returned to the sidelines–and watched my red-haired fleet-footed daughter on a breakaway–and she scored. The only goal of the entire game, for either side. Now that was a moment worth being tortured for. (And it was a merciful high to end an otherwise losing tournament.) AppleApple cannot wait to go to skills camp this fall, and wants to play indoor soccer over the winter–she’s seen her own potential, and she’s excited to play more.
I must steel myself. How do other parents cope? I imagined being a family member of those young men playing in the World Cup final yesterday–standing on the sidelines, pacing, or unable to look.
That was Saturday. We ended with a marshmallow roast over the fire pit. This was a classic family event, following the classic arc, rising slowly to pleasant heights, and crashing steeply to the depths. That would be the classic tragic arc, but our event did not end in tragedy, just bathtime (which for some of us might just be considered a tragedy). We set up the fire pit, gathered drinks and stools and chairs, and sat around, fooled around, then out came the marshmallows and pointy roasting sticks, and the guitars (that was Albus’s idea). Kevin and I tried to coordinate our chording. I have rhythm, and he does not; he can play chords, and I cannot. We make a swell team. The neighbours must have been thrilled. But for a brief spell it felt like such a holiday, such a time away from ordinary: the smell of the campfire, the mellow sound of guitars, making up funny verses to songs. (“CJ is sticky,” was a popular line.)
And then CJ wanted to play “Dragon Warrior” and Albus had an itchy back, and the two of them were rolling around the grass, when calamity struck–or more accurately, CJ struck. With two mini-hockey-sticks. Two-year-olds. They don’t get boundaries. So that was that. I put down the guitar, plucked up the sticky two-year-old, confiscated the mini-sticks, and headed for the bath. Soon, everyone was in the bath/shower, watering can was applied to the fire, and it was bedtime. But Kevin and I stayed up late after the kids were asleep.
That’s been the story of our summer holiday so far. Kevin and I have been staying up late. The kids have been staying up late. We’ve had some fun; and we’ve had some abrupt end to the fun; we’ve been sticky, and we’ve gotten clean.

She Took Notes

I keep finding scraps of paper around the house with paragraphs in tiny printing: AppleApple recording and making up stories about our daily lives. This overwhelms me with happiness. A child who loves words! I do hope she’ll finish her newspaper; however, she’s currently sidetracked by a school project on orcas, which she is typing up on my computer.
Here are excerpts from the writing I’ve found; I’ve corrected some eccentric spelling and grammar.

This one is from a school assignment, asking, If your mom told you the three most important things to remember, what do you think she would say? Why? “Keep earth clean. Stay safe, and have fun. I think she would say this because she wants to be environmentally friendly she doesn’t want to worry about us and she likes us to have fun.”
{side note: YAY! Talk about affirmation. I think she’s bang on.}

Here’s an advertisement she wrote for a school assignment, selling a candy of her own invention: “Have you ever tasted a yummy healthy morsel that will last forever? Would you like to try one? Is your wish to fly? Well you will get it if you eat this. Is your wish to talk to animals? Well you will get your wish if you eat this. You know how mom says don’t play with your food? Well you can with this and it won’t get dirty. Do you get bored of going over and over in the same swimming class? If you eat this it will make you swim better. Are you worried that you will waste your money? That’s not a problem because my special candy comes with ten and multiplies twenty. So amazing saving 20 dollars! Now you must try this now. Come on kids. Don’t sit there. Come and buy it now.”
{side note: re doing the same swim class forever: She passed, FINALLY! Unfortunately, her brother did not. And somehow, Fooey managed not to pass after having already passed the level three times previously (which likely says more about her instructor’s standards, than Fooey’s accomplishments).
Also, it would appear that AppleApple has her mother’s head for math …}

“Things I like to say at lunch. Can I fill my water bottle? Can I have your autograph? Can I go to the bathroom? Can I get a drink of water? Can I get an apple?”

And this might risk scooping her newspaper, but here’s an excerpt from the notes she’s taking toward that project: “Dad’s crazy about the world cup. Right now he’s watching the world cup. It’s the main subject at home today and yesterday.”
{Totally and completely true. He’s “cleaning up the living-room” right now.}

Good Morning, Monday

Lentil Barley Picnic Salad with Ginger-Soy Dressing

Cover with salted water and cook together in a large pot the following ingredients: 1 cup green lentils; 1 cup pearl barley; 1/4 cup wild rice; 1/4 cup brown rice. (Or use whatever combination of legumes most inspires you. Leftover rice can be added to the salad afterward, too; it’s a very flexible salad). Simmer for about an hour, or till tender. Drain. Place in a large bowl with a tight lid.

In a small food processor, puree together the following ingredients: 1 clove garlic; 1 teaspoon salt or to taste; black pepper to taste; 1/4 cup cider vinegar; 1 square inch (or so) peeled fresh ginger; 1-2 tbsp tamari; 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil; and an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup of canola or other vegetable oil. A touch of honey or sugar can be added as well.

Pour the dressing over the legumes, and mix. Add leftover rice, if desired. Add your choice of seasonal veggies, such as: grated carrot; chopped cucumber; thinly sliced red peppers. Squeeze the juice of one lemon or lime over top of the salad. Add crumbled feta or queso duro blando, if desired. Taste for seasonings. Cover and store till picnic-time.

This salad is popular with all of the kids, believe it or not. I’m making it for tonight’s soccer-side picnic, and will also serve tortilla wraps with tuna salad or hummus, and spinach; apple slices, and disgustingly mushy brownies on the side. (In fact, the brownies were such a flop, I despair of ever making good brownies. Anyone have a good recipe? I substituted sunflower, pumpkin, and flax seeds for nuts; maybe that was the problem).


Update on the two-week early rising challenge. I accomplished my goal: rose early to practice yoga on M/W/F of both weeks. And I got up this Monday morning and did the same, though part of me resisted. Part of me always resists. I love my bed. I love dreams. I love sleep. But what amazes me is how much I also love being awake in the quiet house, hearing the birds, and starting my day with exercise. It just takes a nudge to push me across that line from oh my bed how I love you, to hello good morning! I return home awake, energized, and operating much more efficiently than I would had I spent an extra hour and a half in bed. (It has been my habit to rarely get out of bed before 7am, and it’s a rule in our house that no one else is allowed to either). I would like to substitute a run on one of those mornings, but plan to stick to the basic early-rise-and-exercise, three mornings every week.
Eco-confession: I’ve been driving to my early morning yoga class. It’s located embarrassingly nearby. Yes, I have a bicycle. Where is my helmet, where is my lock, why am I never organized at 6 o’clock in the morning? I could get organized the night before. It would take me an additional two or three minutes to bike rather than drive. There is no excuse.
Eco-attempt # 1: I made laundry detergent this weekend. I’m washing the first load right now. If it works out, I’ll post the recipe.
Eco-attempt # 2: We’ve been buying milk in glass bottles. Nice, organic milk. Only problem is, we might have to choose between buying this nice organic milk in glass bottles and sending our children to university. It’s that expensive. But I’m appalled by all the food-related packaging I purchase. Recycling isn’t enough. Ideas?
The house is quiet. I love Monday mornings …
Photos above by AppleApple, who took them from the back seat of the truck on our way home from a soccer game. She took about seventy photos at that game. The rule is that I get to edit as I choose (translation: erase). But she says she doesn’t mind. It just makes her happy to take pictures.

The Beautiful Game

This week our eldest children played their first “real” soccer games ever. They have played a number of games at “soccer in the park,” which is in its fifth year (!!)–but this was the first time either child had played on a field with a referee and a team uniform and parents in lawn chairs watching and shouting, and a coach who wasn’t also Dad. We all went to AppleApple’s first game. I packed a picnic. It was sunny and not too cold and we laid out a blanket and set up beside the field. But it wasn’t much fun. The children who were not playing were mostly misbehaving. While twirling around a goalpost, CJ whacked his head with a resonant whump that could be heard across the field. Tears. More tears from Fooey who was afflicted with general unhappiness at not being the centre of attention. Ditto Albus, whose first game wasn’t till the following night. He did not take well to seeing his parents focused on his sister, and the first thing he said when she came off the field at the end of the game (flushed and delighted), was: “Did you win?” (He knew her team had lost; he keeps careful and accurate score of all games).
It was a grim parenting moment: What are we doing wrong? Why are our children unkind to each other? Onward. He was bored. And sibling rivalry happens.
We actually had a good talk about the subject the following day, when he refused to show AppleApple how to play a song on the piano that he and I had worked out by ear (K’Naan’s Wavin’ Flag, which everyone in our house sings and hums at random points during the day). He wouldn’t show her how to play it because it was his secret. After some mean words, he was sent to his room, and I followed a minute or two later. I explained that I could show AppleApple how to play the song too, and that it was really K’Naan’s song, and he had been very generous with it, and had shared it with many other musicians and artists. And I said that bullies were often (though not always) people who were insecure about their own abilities, or feeling envious and jealous, and who tried to make other people feel small so that they could feel big. I said that it’s a sign of self-confidence when we’re willing to share what we know with other people–like K’Naan. I didn’t end up showing AppleApple how to play the song (by the time I came downstairs, she’d moved on to something else). But yesterday morning, Kevin and I were in the kitchen and we paused and looked at each other: we could hear Albus in the living-room, helping AppleApple figure out how to play Wavin’ Flag.
At AppleApple’s game I discovered that I’m the kind of mother who shouts things from the sidelines. Nothing bad. But I was quite amazed, as if standing apart from myself, watching this woman excitedly cheer on her daughter, “Go, go, go! Good job! Try again!” Etc. I really couldn’t help myself. It’s likely a good thing I was distracted by misbehaving children most of the time. At the end of her very first game, Kevin ran out on the field and gave her a huge hug. I felt the same way: so very proud.
The next night, only Kevin was able to go along for Albus’s first game. His games don’t start till 7:15; not to mention that it was pouring rain and about 3 degrees Celcius. No kidding. I got a before picture, imagining a dramatic and sodden after picture, but by the time I saw him, he had shed his soaked uniform: the after picture was taken in a warm bath, and he’s drinking a cup of hot chocolate. And he’s beaming. He had a blast, though does seem at a disadvantage for never having played on a “real” team before. When Albus had to throw the ball in, and hesitated and hesitated, not sure when he was allowed to, Kevin heard other parents (on Albus’s team) muttering amongst themselves, and he wanted to say, “It’s his first game!” It’s not exactly painful to watch our children struggle, but it is genuinely painful to see them judged … by other adults … in a game that’s supposed to be fun for the kids … (Kevin also saw a few parents yelling at their own kids at the end of the game).
The good news is that Albus had a wonderful time, win or lose.
For AppleApple’s second game, yesterday, Kevin took her alone, with a packed supper for afterward, and I fed the other kids at home before we walked up to the Eco-Fair event at their school (most popular area at the Eco-Fair was, hands-down, the juice and cookie table; CJ had to be physically restrained from going for fourths).
Meanwhile, back at the field, AppleApple played goalie for the entire game, and was, according to her dad, quite amazing and fearless. (She’s never played goalie in her life). By the end of the game, the parents were all cheering her by name. The game ended in a tie. But Kevin said it was gut-wrenching to watch.
Honestly, I’m not sure either of us are cut out for the sidelines. But we’ll do anything for our kids.
The experiment of soccer almost every night is already taking a toll, as Kevin and I pass each other and wave hello and goodbye, and we’ve yet to figure out a way to enjoy supper together as a family (which is an important part of our everyday routine); but I’m glad the kids are getting a chance to do something just for them, which is hard to pull off in a family with four kids. May it continue to be fun.
(And here’s hoping each child shines in his or her own way, and enjoys his or her own pursuits, without comparison. Comparing siblings is nothing more than toxic parenting. I’m trying to make sure the kids don’t label each other and measure against each other, either, difficult as that can be. I don’t mean we don’t recognize differences, just try hard not to say: why can’t you be like … or so-and-so always … etc.).


Had three minutes of perfection this afternoon: the kids were all playing (mostly outside), the laundry was off the line and folded, the soup was simmering on the stove, and I picked up the front section of today’s paper and read for a few minutes on the back porch. Three minutes. Not bad.
After supper, the kids styled each others’ hair. I especially enjoyed CJ’s wings, as frothed-up by AppleApple (he, in turn, brushed her hair so that it covered her face), and my heart was touched by Albus fussing with Fooey’s hair: “It looks better when it goes like this,” [fuss, fuss, fuss]. “Don’t worry,” I told Fooey, who said she didn’t like how it scratched her cheeks, “hairdressers always like styling your hair all crazy, and then you can just go home and stick it back behind your ears like usual.” “Okay, I’m home now!”
CJ is just at such a stage. It’s so emphatic. There’s no mistaking it. He has certain postures, this slump of the shoulders he does when his feelings are hurt, which might just turn into a whirling blithering rage as he stamps across the floor, growling and whacking anything in his way. I enforced a time-out today for throwing. In the midst of his tantrums, he likes to grab any object handy and fling it. Let’s see whether we can break him of that. On the potty front, we’re having some luck with new training pants (thank you, kind lenders of new training pants!). He doesn’t like being wet. The disposable pull-ups are worse than useless since they actually hold more than a cloth diaper. But the training pants don’t hold much. “I want to pee on the pot,” he declared all day, usually arriving to tell me this after the fact; but I appreciated the sentiment. I’m feeling no sense of urgency, and continue to feel encouraged by his progress. He’s getting it, just at his own pace. This morning, his friend of the almost-identical-age was over, and the two of them had a blast in the backyard. They both found hockey sticks and soccer balls and set about playing “Hockeyball!” As they called it. “Hockeyball!” I kicked a soccer ball around, too, and every time I hoofed it into the net (which felt pretty awesome, I must say; stress release? that feeling of being a kid again?), CJ’s friend would throw his hands into the air and shout: “Yay! We win!”
It was a day of full-on mothering and calm. I can only manage these days because I know there’s more going on later in the week (ie. some hours to work and to be alone); but because Monday is a unique day in a week of busyness and a variety, it’s somehow easier to let myself relax and enjoy the calm, quiet, mothering-ness of it, without wishing I were doing something else, or feeling too bored. All I have to do is make supper, hang laundry, and hang out with small children (oh, and a few other chores along the way). So I get to do things like … kick a soccer ball, meet Kevin and co. for a business lunch, walk to the pick up the kids from school, let CJ walk all the home, read the newspaper for three minutes in the sunshine, play guitar to the boys before bed, sing Fooey a lullaby while stroking her cheek and sensing her drift into sleep …
Just another Monday. Praise be.

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