Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Molly was Run Over by a Reindeer

The Howe family kicked off the holiday season last weekend with a trip to Zootastic Park to see the Christmas lights. We drove through the park with the windows down, holiday music playing on the radio, two excited boys (Tyler had a friend with him) in the back seat and a 21-month girl who kept pointing and saying, “What’s that?” Not quite the Rockwell Family but not the Griswold’s either!

Not only did we get to see the lights, but we also got our picture taken with Santa and his baby tiger cub and also visited the petting zoo. Tyler, being the inquisitive five-year-old that he is, had a question for Santa. “Where are your reindeer?” Without missing a beat, the jolly old man told my son and his friend that his reindeer were part of the magic of Christmas. In other words, he told them they were invisible. Santa’s helper quickly jumped in and told the boys to be on the lookout for the reindeer when they visited the rest of the zoo. “If you feel a little nudge, it is the reindeer,” she said. “Or if you trip for no reason, it may be because you just ran into a reindeer.”

Satisfied, Tyler and Hunter ran to the petting zoo. We were heading back to the car after feeding the animals when the inevitable happened. Molly fell flat on her face. Before we could even wipe the blood from her poor little mouth (she bit her lip when she went down) or count her teeth to make sure they were all there, both boys started yelling, “You ran into the reindeer Molly! Santa was right, the reindeer are here!”

Todd took Molly to the bathroom to clean her up while I watched the wide-eyed boys explain the situation to a somewhat confused Santa. I somehow managed to stop laughing just long enough to interpret their high-pitched explanation to Santa and reassure him that Molly was just fine. He winked at me and I thanked him.

The magic of Christmas and the innocence of childhood were alive and well in Troutman, North Carolina last Saturday night!

True confession of the night: I think it was Dancer that collided with Molly. If it were Rudolph, there would have been a flash of red light!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thank you Sunshine House

Dear Sunshine House Faculty,

Thank you for taking such good care of Tyler for the past four years. Todd and I are truly grateful for the roles you have played in his life and for helping him become such a funny, bright, kind and caring boy. It is hard to believe that Tyler was just six months old when he started coming to the Sunshine House.

In the infant room he learned to sit up, play with toys, hold his bottle by himself, and crawl. He received lots of attention and plenty of hugs from Miss Doreen, Miss Frieda and Miss Meg. Once Tyler learned how to drink from a sippy cup, he moved to the toddler one room. We are grateful!

He was welcomed into this room by Miss Clara and Miss Lauren. Here he learned to walk, eat at the big boy table, sleep on a cot, say a few words, and share toys. Again he received lots of attention and plenty of hugs. Now he was ready for the toddler two room. We are grateful!

He spent his time with Miss Neen and Miss Karen. Under their watchful eyes, he learned to swing and go down the slide on the playground, do art projects and talk, talk, talk. Again he received lots of attention and plenty of hugs. Now he was ready for the two-year-old room. We are grateful!

It was in this room that he became a little boy, thanks to Miss Kasha and Miss Deva. He learned manners in this room, “ladies first,” played housekeeping, ran around the playground, actually sat and paid attention to stories, and was potty trained. Again he received lots of attention and plenty of hugs. Now it was time to move to the other hallway and join the three year old. We are grateful!

In here he learned Spanish, learned what authors and illustrators do, participated in his first trike-a-thon, and learned why fire drills are important. Miss Maria and Miss Sue were very patient and helped Tyler through the transition of becoming a big brother. Again he received lots of attention and plenty of hugs. Now he was ready for preschool. We are grateful!

Tyler had a great experience in this room. He learned to write his name, had homework for the first time (which our dog, Tobi, ate), played in centers, fine tuned his art skills, tried a few vegetables, learned to rest instead of nap, learned to recognize site words and began to understand the true meaning of friendship. Miss Deva and Miss Karen believed in Tyler and prepared him for TK. Again he received lots of attention and plenty of hugs. Now he was ready for summer camp. We are grateful!

This summer he had the opportunity to spend time in TK with Miss Karen and Miss Denise. He had a great time learning how to use the computer, learning a few karate moves, enjoyed ice cream on Wednesdays, always looked forward to Friday water days, and learned to pick up after himself. Again he received lots of attention and plenty of hugs. Now he is ready for the next chapter in his life – TK at Providence Day School. We are grateful!

It is true that it takes a village to raise a child, We are so happy that we chose the Sunshine House village in Huntersville to help us raise Tyler. All of you have left an impression on Tyler, one he won’t soon forget.

Thank you for all you have done for Tyler and our family!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Talking without Words

The other day at the dinner table Tyler announced that he could talk loud without using any words. We all sort of looked at him, giggled and said, “okay Tyler.” Later that night after tugging both kids into bed, I thought more about what Tyler said and realized that he was right. He is pretty profound for a four year-old.

His hugs say, “I love you,” his bright eyes and big smile say, “I am excited, this is great,” and his trembling lips say, “I am a bit nervous or scared right now.” Then there is the stomping of the feet, which says, “I am not going to cooperate right now.” He also expresses himself through his art projects. The details of his drawings show his intensity and the bright colors he uses show his happiness and imagination.

Tyler is not the only one in our house that can talk loud without words. At 17 months old, Molly continuously amazes me with how she communicates her feelings and demands. She truly understands what we say to her and what we ask her to do. Tonight she looked at me, pointed down the hallway and walked to the door. When I asked her if she wanted to go outside, she shook her head of full of light brown curls (caused by the humidity) and clapped her hands.

When she is hungry or wants a drink, she walks to her booster seat and when I ask her if she needs a change, she pats her little butt. When she wants to cuddle, she puts her head on my shoulder, when she wants me to pick her up, she puts her hands in the air and when she wants me to read her a story, she brings me a book.

The one that is both a little funny, yet disturbing is when she takes my hand and walks me over to the television. This usually means she is ready to watch the Bubble Guppies on Nick Jr. Tyler simply hands me the remote when it is time for The Backyardigans, Dora the Explorer or The Fresh Beat Band.

I hope that Tyler and Molly understand what I am saying when I hug them, snuggle with them, grab/squeeze their hand, chase them around the backyard, write stories about them and yes, sometimes even put them in a time out. I know what I am saying, “I love you and I am lucky to be your mommy.”

True confession of the night: I hope that my actions can always speak louder than my words.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy 90th Birthday!

Dear Tyler and Molly,

Today would have been my Pépère Charpentier’s 90th birthday. I am so sorry that you guys and daddy never had the chance to meet him. He was a very special man, someone that I always looked up to.

He grew up in a very large French Canadian family in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Believe it or not, he had 16 brothers and sisters. That is most likely where he got the motto that there is always room for one more. He was raised during the depression and in order to help the family financially, he and his siblings started the Charpentier Family band and played at showers and parties. Pépère played the drums. He actually met by Mémère while playing at a wedding shower. I really believe that it was true love at first sight that continued to grow for 50 years.

Pépère was a very generous man. He would give you the shirt off of his back if you asked or needed it. He was a barber and a carpenter, making him very unique. He made my first dresser for me (the one that you have both used) and gave me my first haircut. He also loved ice cream and ate it every night, just a scoop. He said it helped him digest his food. I think it did. I know it helped me digest my food whenever I was there! We would have to sit on a special little rug so that we didn’t drip on the furniture. There is one other thing Pépère did every night. When he took his teeth out at night (he had false teeth), he would eat a tootsie roll to get the sticky stuff off of his gums. It would make us giggle until we fell over.

Me, my siblings and cousins giggled a lot when we were with Pépère. He was so silly. He would pretend to walk into the door, fall up the stairs and chase us around the yard whenever we arrived at his house. He would let us watch him shave and we would say: “Shave your tongue, shave your tongue, Pépère.” You got it; he would then pretend to shave his tongue.

You know how I sometimes take a bite of your dinner or a sip of your drink and say, I just needed to make sure it is good before you have it? I got that from Pépère. He did that all the time to us. I will let you in on a secret. I know the food and drink is good enough for you, just like he knew it was good enough for me. We just wanted a bite or a sip and a great big grin in return.

Pépère had a great imagination. He would have loved playing angry dragon with you Tyler and tea parties with you Molly. When we were driving in the car with him and hit traffic, he would tell us that if he pressed a certain button, the car would get wings and we could fly home. We never asked him to press the button, but we also never doubted that the car could fly.

Pépère would also always say, “So I decided.” Sometimes he would decide it was time for us to go swimming (he lived on a lake) and sometimes he would decide it was time to have a little snack. When he would decide to have a cup of coffee, he would let us mix the milk and sugar in. He would take a sip and say: “Yumm – this is the best coffee I have ever had.”

Basically, Pépère was a man who loved me unconditionally. He was someone I could always talk to about anything. This is why I decided to tell you about him on what would be his 90th birthday. It was so hard when we lost him to cancer 15 years ago. However, my memories of him will stay with me forever and will always bring a smile to my face. I promise to share some more stories with you soon. But for now, I hope this has given you a glimpse of the fun I had growing up with my Pépère. I am certain that he is smiling down on all of us from heaven.



True confession of the night: Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Dear Pépère Charpentier, Happy Birthday to you!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What Tastes Good and Not so Good

Molly has been eating table food for quite a few months now. She knows what she likes and is certain about what she doesn’t like. There are even a few things that she tolerates, depending on her mood, of course. It is to early to tell if Molly will grow up to be a food critic, but I do know that at 17 months, she already has a rating scale for food.

Yumm, Yumm = this is great and yes, I will have some more please

Nutri-Grain bars (blueberry, strawberry and apple)
Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal without milk
chicken fingers
hot dogs
mac ‘n cheese
Fish crackers
spaghetti with sauce

Yumm = this is good, I will finish what is on my plate

chicken and rice
black beans
Fiber One brownies (got to get fiber in)

Spitting it out = this is not so good, please don’t serve this again until I am an adult

pulled pork

Feeding it to Tobi (our dog) = you shouldn’t have bothered to put this on my plate, I am not even going to try it

cheese sticks

True confession of the night: There are a few foods I would like to feed to Tobi too.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Spring Lake 4th of July's

The 4th of July was by far one of my favorite holidays growing up. We would drive to my grandparent’s house on Spring Lake in Glendale, Rhode Island for the long weekend. It was an hour and a half drive from Springfield, Mass., which could feel like forever back then. I knew we were just about there when I saw the handcrafted speed limit signs on Spring Lake Road, also know as the bumpy road, that my grandfather made.

While the whole weekend was fun, America’s Birthday truly stands out. My siblings and I always slept in sleeping bags on the living room floor. I would try to position my sleeping bag under the skylight. We would wake up to the sounds of my grandmother bustling around the kitchen. After breakfast, we would follow my grandfather, who was dressed in his knee-length shorts and dark knee socks, to the front yard. It wasn’t time to jump in the water yet. Instead, we poked small holes into the ground and lined up small American flags, which could be see from the water, across the retaining wall. As a World War II veteran, this ritual was extremely important to my grandfather.

By mid-morning, it was time for the first swim of the day. Then my cousins would arrive and the fun would really begin. We would only get out of the water for lunch. My grandmother would make a large batch of Dynamite (a French Canadian version of a sloppy joe), which was always paired with chips, and corn on the cob. After lunch, we would jump back in the lake. Before long, my grandfather would take out the wrinkled, worn paper bag that we had all come to love because….it was filled with colorful Nerf balls. The Nerf wars would begin in the water and nobody was safe. Then we would get called out of the water for our afternoon snack – watermelon slices with salt. We were so careful with the seeds because we knew if we swallowed even one, there was a good possibility we would grow a watermelon in our bellies. Years later I realized this wasn’t true. I also know now there is no real reason to wait half an hour after eating to go swimming!

In the late afternoon, more extended family would arrive, including great aunts and uncles and second and third cousins. After dinner, which was usually hamburgers or ham sandwiches, we would play outside until dark. Then we would gather on the dock to watch fireworks over the lake. This is where I perfected my “oohs” and “aahs.” This signaled the end to my perfect 4th of July celebrations.

True confession of the day: In honor of those days, I am making Dynamite today. Happy Birthday America and thanks for the memories Mémère and Pépère Charpentier!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

My 37 Moments

I recently finished an article for the Providence Day Magazine that celebrates 40 important firsts in the school’s 40-year history. This made me think of the moments in my life that have shaped who I am.

I took the challenge and have come up with 37 moments (I haven’t celebrated 40 yet) that have helped shape me as a woman, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a wife, a mother, a friend and a professional. Some are obvious and others can’t be explained. Yet, they are all real and they are all me.

Here we go….

1. Nerf balls at Spring Lake.

2. Teen Encounter weekends in high school.

3. Knowing I would have a future after being accepted into college.

4. Graduating from Cathedral High School after four great years of memories and friendships – some of which have truly lasted for 20 years.

5. Freshmen Orientation and Senior Week at Northeastern University.

6. Turning 21 in Boston.

7. Driving to Florida with my best cousin, Nikki, for spring break junior year in college.

8. Giving the eulogy at my Pépère’s funeral.

9. Speaking at my college graduation from Northeastern University in the Fleet Center – Go Huskies!

10. Purchasing my first car – Nissan Sentra.

11. Finishing my research paper / thesis in graduate school at UMass Amherst.

12. Being successful at Weight Watchers the first time. I know I can do it again.

13. Signing up for

14. First date with Todd at Fitz Willy’s in Northampton, MA. At the end of the date, I hoped he would call me again and he hoped I would say, “yes,” when he called again.

15. Becoming an Aunt for the first time – love you Emily!

16. Holding Brooke in one arm and Morgan in the other for the first time outside of the NICU at Bay State Hospital.

17. Breathing Vermont air.

18. Getting engaged on Todd’s grandparents’ 62nd wedding anniversary. The engagement story deserves its own blog post.

19. Looking in the mirror and knowing that I had just found my wedding dress.

20. Walking down the aisle of the Newman Center on May 8, 2004.

21. Our first Howe family Christmas tree.

22. Moving to Huntersville, North Carolina.

23. My first NASCAR race.

24. Seeing my name as the editor of the PDS magazine for the first time

25. Hearing the words, “it’s a boy,” and then seeing that baby boy for the first time.

26. Hearing Tyler say “Mama” when he was nine months old.

27. Waiting at the airport for Todd’s plane to arrive from China, holding a Father’s Day envelope with a positive pregnancy test in it.

28. Being told that I needed to undergo further tests because I was of an advanced maternal age and making the decision on the spot that I would love that baby no mater what.

29. Finding out it was going to be a girl.

30. Hearing Molly cry after she was delivered via emergency c-section.

31. Seeing Tyler meet Molly for the first time in the lobby of the hospital.

32. Being diagnosed with early stages of heart disease at 36 years old.

33. Seeing James Taylor and Carole King.

34. Participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease to honor my Mémère and support my mother.

35. Molly sleeping through the night for the first time after her ear surgery - yes, finally!

36. Watching Tyler score his first soccer goal.

37. Actually having the courage to start this blog.

True confession of the night: this was easier to do then I thought it would be.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Happy Tyler's Day

On the way home from day care Friday afternoon, Tyler announced that Sunday was going to be “Tyler’s Day.” He would get to choose what we would eat on Sunday, he would get control of the television remote and he would pick where we went that day.

After celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, he truly wanted to know when it would be kid’s day. When I kindly told he that there was no official kid’s day – he created a day for himself, calling it “Tyler’s Day.”

His idea of a perfect day was actually very simple, innocent and doable. He wanted to mow the lawn with daddy, have ham and cheese for lunch, get a shake from either Steak & Shake or Cook-Out, go swimming at the neighborhood pool, and watch a NASCAR race on television.

After mowing the lawn on Saturday, we went out to lunch, ran errands, ordered an M&M shake from the Steak & Shake drive-thru, watched the NASCAR practice on the Speed channel and went swimming at our neighbor’s house. When I tucked my happy, yet sleepy boy into bed. I asked him how he had enjoyed his special day. I thought this was a reasonable question, seeing that we had accomplished his four-year-old bucket list that day. His head quickly popped up form his pillow and he said, “Mommy, I said Sunday was Tyler’s Day, not Saturday. We will just do other things since we already mowed the lawn and drank a shake.”

The next morning, Tyler bounced out of bed ready for his special day, which began with a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and a cup of apple juice. Then he settled on the couch to watch some of his favorite shows on Nick, Jr, because it is “like preschool on TV.” When he thought Todd was reaching for the remote, he gently reminded him that it was “Tyler’s Day.” When I left for the grocery store, he asked if I might be able to get him a small treat to celebrate his day. He was overjoyed when I returned with a Cars bat and ball – a $2.99 clearance find at Walgreen’s. After his special lunch of rolled up ham, cheese slices, Fish crackers, pineapple and coffee milk, we headed to the neighborhood pool with his cousins. Before dinner we toasted Tyler and after dinner, Uncle Keith (who is visiting from Massachusetts) took Tyler into the backyard to play some baseball. A scoop of cookie and cream ice cream and a Chips Ahoy cookie finished off his day.

Later that evening, my happy, yet sleepy boy told me that he had the best “Tyler’s Day” ever. My heart melted as he hugged me goodnight. Before shutting his eyes, he announced that next week we would celebrate “Molly’s Day,” and he would help her choose what to do for her special day, since her vocabulary only consists of “ball,” “bye-bye,” “cracker,” and “more.”

True confession of the day: I admire my son for coming up with the idea of “Tyler’s Day,” but am relieved that his requests were simple.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Please Excuse Me or Something Like That

It is important to me that my children are polite, which includes using the magic words, “please” and “thank you.” However, being polite also includes saying, “excuse me,” when necessary. In our house we say, “Excuse me” when we need to interrupt someone, when we burp and yes, when we pass gas. Needless to say, those two words are said quite often in the Howe house or at least I thought they were.

The other night I laid Molly down on her changing table to get her ready for bed. Of course we took our time as I asked her where her head was, where her belly was and where her nose was. She dutifully and proudly pointed to her head, lifted her shirt to show me her belly and picked her nose. What a smart 15 month old! Then, following our routine I kissed her feet. She smiled so wide I saw she had a new tooth. As I was changing her diaper the inevitable happened, she passed gas. I looked at her and said, “really, Molly?”

Did she say excuse me? NO, not Molly. She waved her hand like a queen and said, “bye, bye.” It was like she was saying goodbye to a good friend. I was giggling as I finished changing her. As I put her to bed, I remembered something her brother once said to me.

Tyler was about 2 ½ when he passed gas pretty loudly. He turned around, looked at me and said, “Oops – my butt just burped.” Out of the mouth of babes, in the comfort of our home. Again, I couldn’t help but laugh. However, he was as serious as could be. Excuse me for saying this, but my kids are pretty funny, and yes, polite most of the time!

True confession of the night: Sometimes the words “excuse me” just don’t express how we really feel.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Where did My Balloon Go?

Tyler loves going to Harris Teeter, our local grocery store, because they have sugar cookies (low-sugar ones for my kids please) available for kids when you come into the store and balloons in a variety of colors when you leave. Molly is also a fan of the cookies. Tonight, on our way back from a fun evening cookout with friends, I took the kids into the store to pick up a few things for our Memorial Day celebration.

Sure enough, before we were even through the door, Tyler made a beeline for the cookies. He eyed them carefully before picking the perfect ones for himself and Molly. We quickly went down a few aisles grabbing rolls, fruit, a brownie mix, chips and paper plates. While Molly and I paid for the groceries, Tyler asked if he could choose a balloon. Yellow is his favorite color and there were plenty of yellow balloons available and within his reach. Yet, I watched him as he quickly chose a pretty aqua colored balloon. I even commented about the color as we walked outside. I should have known then, that this was a special balloon.

We had just crossed the street into the parking lot when his little hand slipped and the balloon soared upward. Tyler looked stricken as he watched the aqua balloon go up, up and away. I told him we could get another one next time. That is when he burst into tears. I have to admit that I wasn’t prepared for his reaction so I turned around with two kids in tow and headed back into the store. I found the one remaining aqua balloon, handed it to him and told him not to let go.

As we headed for the parking lot again, Tyler looked up at me with those big brown eyes of his and said, “Where did my other balloon go.” Without really thinking about it, I told him it went up to heaven. He said, “That means your grandma has it now, because she went to heaven to be an angel.” Wow! He is right; my grandmother went to heaven in September after losing her courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Now we both had shed tears in the Harris Teeter parking lot. He had tears because he lost a balloon and I had tears because I knew who was going to find it.

True confession of the night: I like the idea of my grandmother sitting in her rocking chair, holding my son’s aqua balloon. It brings a smile to my face!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Take Your Potty Mouth Somewhere Else

So it happened last night at our neighborhood park. I had one of those “mother bear protecting her young” moments. I was on my way home from work after a rather intense day, when I noticed a voicemail from my husband, Todd. “I have your children, we are at the park, meet us there.” Okay, easy enough.

Two happy and smiling kids greeted me at the park. They were being pushed on the swings by a content and relaxed looking daddy. Tyler was yelling, “push me higher, daddy.” Molly was laughing. We were all thinking, “thank goodness it is Friday.” Once off the swings we headed to the slides. This is when I noticed four teenage boys playing volleyball in the sand pit. They seemed to be having a good time, blowing off some steam, probably counting down the days until summer vacation. While helping Molly down the slide I heard the “F” word coming from the volleyball court. I looked over and saw two of the boys starting to argue and a few punches were thrown. Another boy told them to “knock it off,” while the fourth started to walk toward a car.

They had Tyler’s attention now. He wanted to know why they were hitting each other. I explained to him that hitting wasn’t nice and not to pay attention to them. Looking over again, the two boys were rolling on the ground and were using the “F” word again. That is when mother bear sprung into action. I mean, this is a neighborhood park. I walked over to the boys, who were now on their feet, pushing and shoving each other toward a tree. I will admit to raising my voice, just so they could hear me, which I think took them by surprise. It was pretty much a one-sided conversation that went something like this ---

“Please stop it right now. This is a playground where a lot of little kids play. I don’t appreciate you fighting and using bad language. My kids are watching you.” I probably should have stopped there, but no I kept going. “Take your potty mouths somewhere else, now.”

They didn’t say a word (which is why I say it was a one-sided conversation). Instead, they gathered their things and walked to their car. I turned around and saw Todd’s mouth hanging open. Apparently, I don’t do things like this often. Then I looked at Tyler and said, “I gave them a time-out. That’s what happens if you fight.” Less then a minute later, Molly fell, bit her lip and started to bleed. Needless to say, we headed home too.

I am a MOMMY - hear me roar!

True confession of the day: I have never said “potty mouth” before and I don’t know where it came from. At least I didn’t tell them to “f… off.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Does Rhyming Really Matter?

I have a habit of singing songs and reciting Nursery Rhymes to my kids while changing them, bathing them and cuddling with them. I will even admit to making up my own lyrics once in a while. In return I am rewarded with smiles, humming and requests for more.

Here is the one I recited most often to Tyler and now recite to Molly.

“One, two, buckle my shoe.
Three, four, shut the door.
Five, six, pick up sticks.
Seven, eight, lay them straight.
Nine, ten, a big fat hen.”

The other day, Tyler asked if we could do the one, two, poem. “You do the first part and I will do the second part. Okay, Mommy?” It sounded good to me and obviously to Molly because she clapped her hands. Much to my surprise and then amusement, here is what happened.

“One, two, buckle my … shoe.
Three, four, shut the … door.
Five, six, pick up … the toys on the floor.
Seven, eight, lay … my head down.
Nine, ten, a big … fat dog!”

All I can say is that some of the lessons Todd and I are trying to teach our kids are working. Always pick up your toys and at the end of the day, lay your head down and go to sleep.

The true confession of the night – I didn’t correct Tyler or laugh at him. I actually like his version and can’t wait for Molly’s version.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

First Time Soccer Mom

The idea of a blogging has been in the back of my head for quite a while. I love to write, which is a good thing since I am in the communications field. However, I never take the time to write for pleasure, to share my thoughts on what it is like to be a wife and mother. After encouragement from lots of people, I have decided to start my blog. Hence … Confessions of a First Time Soccer Mom is born.

This spring I entered into a new stage of motherhood. I became a soccer mom. Tyler can’t walk by a ball without touching it, throwing it or kicking it. This is why I gave up quiet Friday nights and leisurely Saturday mornings to cheer my four year old on. He looked so cute the first time he walked onto the green turf wearing his umbro shorts, shin guards, cleats and carrying his green dinosaur water bottle. I watched him intently as he learned to stop the ball with his foot and not his hands. I let a few giggles out as he and his teammates tried to decide which goal they were aiming for. I shed a few tears when he gave me thumbs up after scoring his first goal.

As the soccer season progressed, Tyler and I became more confident in our new roles, his as “soccer star” and mine as “soccer mom.” He began to run down the field (in the right direction) with confidence and he learned that playing defense is as important as scoring goals. What I am most proud of is that he believes the most important part of the game is shaking hands with your opponents before heading to the car. Learning the true meaning of sportsmanship at four years old was worth giving up Saturday mornings watching the “Fresh Beat Band” and “Team Umizoomie” on Nick Jr.

What did I learn from this experience? I learned the left cleat from the right cleat. I learned that soccer players flock to the mom with the snacks after the game (you can’t go wrong with Teddy Grahams and Toy Story fruit snacks). I also learned that not all parents share a parenting philosophy. Most importantly, I now know you have to let your child fall every once in a while. They will pick themselves up and they will brush themselves off.

The true confession of the night – I can’t wait for the fall soccer season!