Ball Busters get busted in championship game

It was a dark and stormy night in South St. Paul, Minnesota…

Ok, technically, it was a mild and calm night with a gentle breeze blowing off the Mississippi River in SSP, MN… but dark and stormy feels so much more ominous. Doesn’t it? Where were we?

Oh, yes. Dark and stormy…

The hot pink t-shirt clad Ball Busters arrived at Mattie’s Lanes prepared to face off against their arch-enemies, the Mattie’s Lanes team, also sporting hot-pink uniforms, though not nearly as cute nor with as clever a logo as the Ball Busters’ darling t-shirts. 

Tensions ran high. Sneering looks were passed between the players.

Ok, technically, the players high-fived each other after well-played frames, even if they weren’t on the same team.

The Ball Busters performed their pre-game stretches. Words of encouragement were passed in hushed tones amongst each other. The Mattie’s Lanes team would go down this fateful evening.

It was a tight game. The score was neck and neck throughout round one. One of the lanes was uncooperative and some maintenance was required, temporarily halting the game as tensions ran high.

When the game resumed, the Mattie’s Lanes team pulled ahead. By the tenth frame, Mattie’s Lanes had taken the round.

The Ball Busters came on strong in game two. There were more maintenance problems and frustrations were elevated. Homie-T held her own, but couldn’t seem to pull off a strike unless G-Dawg left the scene when it was T’s turn. G-Dawg was ordered to make herself scarce while it was Homie-T’s turn from that point on. Game two was taken by the Ball Busters and spirits were high.

Game three presented more scoring and maintenance problems. Pinky found the owner and demanded the teams be allowed to play this momentous game on lanes that properly scored each frame. The ladies in pink moved their gear four lanes down and resumed their games, but the damage had already been done. Sel-Nizzle couldn’t pull off a spare. Syd-Swad seemed to leave one lone pin standing every frame.

The Mattie’s Lanes team boosted their confidence with strike after strike. By the tenth frame of game three, the Ball Busters knew they had no chance of pulling off a championship win. Homie-T began her tenth and final frame, throwing her first ball and leaving a 4-10 split. In frustration, she approached the lane and tossed the ball without care, then watched as the ten pin went into a spin, taking the four pin with it. Cheers erupted from the Ball Busters. The championship was lost, but they had gone down with style.

They had no reason to be ashamed. Their bags were packed. Hugs were exchanged. Each face held a smile.

2nd Place – not bad for a bunch of girls who have never bowled before this year. And just wait until next year, when Homie-T gets a ball that’s actually fitted to her own hand. (And a new name on the back of her shirt, if she has anything to say about it…)

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Oh, come on. It wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t post this picture one last time.

And how was YOUR weekend?

It’s been a busy, busy weekend here. For starters (and I’m not entirely sure how this happens, but…) the house was a disaster area. We clean EVERY week. How it goes from neat and clean to complete chaos in the span of seven short days is beyond me. (I guess having busy and sometimes lazy teenagers has a lot to do with it. I’m sure the fact that I work full time has a little something to do with it as well.) Thankfully, the weekend was lacking in any sports tournaments requiring our attendance, so domestic duties were on the top of the priority list. Everyone was assigned a list of chores and we got to work making the place look presentable again. What a relief. I don’t know about you, but my ability to act like a reasonable human being diminishes proportionately in relation to the level of cleanliness and tidiness in my home.

By Saturday evening, I was breathing a sigh of relief that the house was back in shape, and none too soon. We had some unexpected visitors come to deliver the last of the Girl Scout cookies. We invited the neighbors to come join the gathering, since they are mutual friends. Before I knew it, there was beer being passed out and the kids were engrossed in playing Wii. We had a great time, and our visitors headed home just as I was thinking I might be ready to call it a day. But then the phone rang, and another couple of our friends asked if we minded them stopping by for a short visit. Another round of beers and a few laughs later, they headed home too. It was a full day.

I allowed myself to sleep in today and enjoyed a relaxing morning, catching up on reading blogs and watching Spanglish on t.v. (Love that movie!) But I couldn’t lounge around too long as we were desperately lacking in anything to eat. I knew I would have to bite the bullet and face the prospect of grocery shopping on a Sunday, of all days. I loathe grocery shopping on Sundays with all those after-church shoppers! I usually try to shop during the week, but Sunday shopping today was a necessary evil. To ease the pain, I made a stop at Bed, Bath & Beyond for a few household items I’ve been needing. I know you’re going to think I’m crazy, but I spent a hundred dollars on a waste basket for my kitchen and it made me very happy. Now, before you decide that I’m completely insane, let me just explain that I have a waste basket that sits out in plain sight in my kitchen. The one I have is really an eyesore and I have been eyeing this particular waste basket for a couple of years. I had a Visa gift card from Christmas that I had yet to spend, so it wasn’t like I was really spending my own hundred dollars on something in which to toss my garbage. Isn’t it pretty? I know. It’s a trash can. I’m easily excited.

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So, after amusing myself with the new trash can, I took a deep breath and hit the grocery store. You’ll be happy to know I made it out alive, having avoided any altercations with people lacking in grocery store etiquette (like the woman who looked at me in a way I can only describe as “disdainfully” – I have no idea what I did to provoke such a look from her. Maybe she was jealous of my bananas…)  and only two-hundred some dollars poorer. (Teenagers eat a lot!)

Once at home again, the kids helped haul all the groceries inside and we made quick work of getting everything put away. Then it was off to my parents’ house to clean. Why? Because they are leaving their winter home in Arizona and returning home to Minnesota for the warmer months. I wanted to make sure they will return to a clean and fresh house when they get back THIS WEDNESDAY! (I’m a little bit excited about their return. Can you tell? I’ve missed them.)

And as if my parents’ return weren’t enough, I get almost another week to spend with my oldest son. Since he goes to school in Fargo, North Dakota (where there’s a bit of a major flooding issue going on at the moment) school has been cancelled for the next week and he’ll be coming home on Tuesday – with his girlfriend. (I think it’s safe to say this is getting serious. And I’m ok with that. She’s a sweetie.) It’s going to be a very good week! Busy, but good!

So? How was your weekend?

TAG! Storyline 1, part 6

(Previous installments of the story can be found here.)
Terri hung up the phone and grabbed her purse, reaching inside for her keys. Heading for the service door that led to the garage, she made a stop at the closet and grabbed a jacket. Sliding one arm inside, she felt someone lifting the jacket to assist her with the other arm and realized Rich was standing directly behind her.
 
“Thanks, honey,” she said, shrugging into the jacket and turning to give her husband a peck on the cheek. 
 
“Not so fast,” he replied, circling his arm around her waist and pulling her against him. He dipped his head and kissed her neck and she tipped her head back to accommodate him, winding her arms around his neck at the same time and giggling.
 
“You smell so good,” he murmured into her neck. “It’s not right, you going out to see another man when you smell this good. Are you sure you don’t want to hang around here with me and… you know…find something to do?”
 
She giggled again. “I won’t be gone long,” she promised. “We’re just going to have coffee. Besides, I feel bad. I feel like I let Matt down by not offering sooner to help him celebrate his success today. And when he told me he met someone tonight, he sounded so excited. It’s not often I see Matt so happy. I feel like I owe this to him. I don’t think he’s got a lot of people in his life that he can lean on and this is really important to him. OK?”
 
Rich kissed her lightly on the lips. “I know, baby. You’re a good friend to Matt. Go. Celebrate with him. And try not to smell so good while you’re gone, will ya?”
 
Terri laughed. “I’ll try. Maybe I’ll run across a skunk while I’m out.”
 
“Don’t do that,” Rich teased. “I’d love it if you smelled this good again when you get back. Just try to put a hold on the whole smelling good thing while you’re out.”
 
She kissed him one more time, suddenly feeling reluctant to leave, but assuring him he had nothing to worry about and that she’d be back as soon as she could.
 
Ten minutes later, her car turned into the Barnes & Noble parking lot. She climbed out from behind the wheel, slamming the door behind her and pressed the lock button on the remote as she headed toward the entrance of the book store. Pulling the heavy front doors open, she looked immediately to the right, searching for Matt in the coffee shop section of the store. It didn’t take long to spot him. He was seated at a cafe table for two, his hands surrounding his cup of coffee and looking up from under his eyebrows at her. He was unable to hide the grin that had been plastered on his face since he had left the restaurant. She quickly made her way to her friend and hugged him as he rose to greet her.
 
“Wow! You are positively glowing,” she exclaimed! “This must be some girl. I haven’t seen you look this happy in a long time.”
 
“Thanks so much for meeting me tonight,” he said, releasing her from the hug. “Hey, you smell nice,” he mentioned approvingly.
 
“So I’ve been told. Just don’t let on to Rich that you noticed. I got the distinct impression that he wouldn’t have been opposed to me staying home this evening. But I promised him I’d make it up to him when I got back.”
 
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude on your evening.” Matt looked slightly worried. Since Terri had become his best friend in the last year, he often found himself feeling extremely grateful for her friendship, but he often wondered what it felt like from Rich’s perspective. Rich had always been very gracious about the friendship but Matt couldn’t help but wonder sometimes how he might feel if the tables were turned and it was his wife who shared a close bond with another man.
 
“Don’t be silly,” Terri said, dismissing his concern. “It’s not a big deal. Rich understands and I won’t be out late. This is what friends are for. Now, come on. Spill it. I want to hear all about her.”
 
“I don’t know what to say,” Matt admitted, the giddy-looking grin returning to his face. “We only exchanged a few words, but I must have made them count. I think I’m going to get to see her again.”
 
“This is so unlike you,” Terri gushed. “I’m thrilled to see you taking a little risk for a change. You deserve to have someone nice in your life.”
 
Matt laughed. “I think you’re getting a little ahead of me here. I just met her tonight and barely spoke to her. It might be a little soon to assume she’ll be a part of my life just yet.”
 
“I know,” Terri laughed. “I’m just happy for you. You stepped outside your box for a change. You’re a nice guy, and a good looking one too. So, you wear that goofy Jedi hoodie once in a while. So what? Fae, is it? She didn’t seem to mind your odd taste in clothing. Maybe Fae is just your type. Just promise me you won’t ask her to watch Star Wars movies on your first date.”
 
Matt pretended to swat at her head and Terri quickly ducked, laughing. 
 
“You know I’m just kidding you,” she said. “Let me go order a mocha and when I get back, I want to hear all the details.” She got up to place her order and then quickly returned to the table with her steaming cup. “So, tell me what happened tonight.”
 
Matt shrugged, looking down, still grinning self consciously. “She was sitting with a couple of friends at the sushi bar. I was just around the corner of the bar from them and I could hear most of their conversation. I didn’t even realize it at first, but I found myself staring at her. When I realized she was staring back… and seemed interested, I felt my confidence soar. I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I took a chance for a change.”
 
“That’s good, Matt. You know I’ve been worried about you since the accident. I worry about how much time you spend alone. I know you have your Kendo and that’s great. But the people you connect with there aren’t real friends. Not really. You just share a common interest and nothing more. And I love the fact that we’re friends and all, but it won’t hurt my feelings if you have other friends too. And even if I might feel just the slightest bit jealous at seeing another woman taking up some of your time,” she teased, winking, “you know that deep down, I would really love to see you find someone special. You deserve that. It’s not healthy to spend so much time alone.”
 
“I know. You’re right,” Matt conceded. “I’ve been in a funk for a long time now. It’s time I stop moping around and start living again.”
 
All Terri could do was smile. It was good to see her friend acting so optomistic for a change. The accident had taken it’s toll on him, and for a while there, she thought Matt was going to be content to simply go through the motions for the rest of his life. The Kendo classes were a step in the right direction for him. They got him excited about something again and gave him something to keep striving for. But it wasn’t the same as allowing another person into his life. She knew that living…truly living… required a certain amount of risk and until now, she wasn’t sure that Matt was willing to ever take those risks again. It had taken some time, but tonight she was sure that he had broken down a wall that had been holding him back for so long. Maybe he would finally allow himself to consider sharing his heart with another person.
 
“I don’t know what it was about this girl,” Matt continued. “But she stirred up feelings I haven’t experienced… or wanted to experience… in a long time.” 
 
Terri just smiled, encouraging, while Matt rambled on about Fae’s gorgeous hair and her beautiful eyes. He couldn’t hide his excitement when he described how she had actually called him after he left his business card for her and how he loved the sound of her voice. He repeated for her the short conversation he and Fae had shared and how she had asked if she could call him sometime.
 
“God, I hope she calls soon,” he exclaimed! “Look at me! I’m acting like a teenager. What is wrong with me?”
 
“Nothing’s wrong with you,” Terri assured him. “You’re happy. Remember happy? It feels good, doesn’t it?” The two friends talked and laughed easily for the next hour until it became apparent the book store was closing for the night. They parted ways, each feeling happy about Matt’s encounter that evening and promising each other, “See you on Monday!”
 
When Terri got home, she found Rich sitting up in bed, the lights off, but watching t.v. He gave her a wary look and smiled half-heartedly.
 
“What’s with you,” she asked him? “Is something going on?”
 
“Aw, I got into it with Jeremy tonight. I tried to talk to him about school and making some decisions about what he plans to do after graduation. I should have known better. As usual, he ended up getting defensive and before I knew it, we were yelling at each other again. He’s closed himself up in his room and I think he hates me. I’m frustrated and I don’t know what to do.”
 
“I’m sorry,” Terri said, understanding all too well. “I can try to talk with him in the morning. Do you want to talk about it? Is there anything I can do?”
 
“Maybe…” Rich looked at her with a mischievious grin. “Come here. Let me see if you still smell as good as you did earlier…”
 

TAG! Storyline 1, part 4

Matt followed the hostess to the sushi bar and took a seat near the corner. He nodded to the itamae and asked what the chef recommended. After making his selections, Matt settled back in his chair to survey his surroundings.

The restaurant was fairly busy.  He noticed a family with two children chattering animatedly as their young parents smiled attentively trying to follow the conversation. At another table, a couple spoke in hushed tones, the air of intimacy unmistakable. Matt’s celebratory mood began to dissipate as the all too familiar veil of loneliness made its presence known.

Just then the cute young hostess appeared, asking what he might like to drink. His spirits lifted again and Matt ordered a beer, quickly suppressing any feelings of self pity.

“Dude, don’t do this,” he reminded himself. “This is your day.”

Smiling sheepishly to himself, he returned his attention to the sushi bar just as his food was presented.  He couldn’t wait to dig in and dipped his nigiri in the small bowl of soy sauce. Tipping his head back, he placed an entire piece of fish and rice on his tongue in traditional Japanese fashion. It was every bit as delicious as he had anticipated and he nodded at the itamae in approval. The jubilance he experienced earlier in the day returned and he allowed it to take hold.

Conversations overlapped one another at the sushi bar. A couple of business men to Matt’s right were engrossed in a serious discussion. To his left was a group of three women, dressed casually but stylish. A few shopping bags littered the floor near their feet. The three laughed and finished each others sentences in the way only longtime friends are able. He estimated them to be near his age.

He hadn’t realized he was staring until the one with the strawberry-blond hair caught his eye and smiled in his direction. She had her elbows resting on the bar, her hands clasped together under her chin. She appeared to be  listening as one of her girlfriends described in mock-painful detail the difficulties of trying to keep romance alive in her marriage with a two and a four year old in the house. Matt, himself was trying not to be obvious while he followed the woman’s comedic story but hadn’t realized he had been noticed until the moment the pretty woman’s eyes met with his own. Her head was tipped slightly to her right and he couldn’t help feel that she was teasing him with her gaze. Feeling his face grow red, Matt returned his attention to his food but couldn’t seem to erase the smile from his face.

It felt good, being noticed in such a positive way. As Matt enjoyed his meal, he wondered what more he could ask for. First, there was his huge success in the Kendo ceremony that morning, then being able to share his elation with his best friend, Terri. Now he found himself on the receiving end of an attractive woman’s attention, even if it was only for a moment. Yes, it had been a very good day. He enjoyed the rest of his meal and allowed a sense of contentment to engulf him.

Raising his beer glass to his lips, Matt chanced another glimpse at the pretty woman who had raised his curiosity. The one who had been entertaining her friends with her tales of foiled romance was still at it and the others were laughing freely. Feeling brave, Matt allowed himself to study the one who had caught his attention. She had shoulder length hair, brushed off to one side and she unconsciously swept it from her face periodically as she interacted with her friends. She had beautiful, hazel eyes and long dark lashes and Matt felt warmed by her smile and laughter.

Suddenly, as if she could feel the weight of Matt’s stare, her gaze once again met with his. She hadn’t turned her head and her friends didn’t notice. It was only her eyes that remained unabashedly focused on his. The lively conversation continued without interruption. But her full attention was on Matt.  Feeling encouraged by her boldness, Matt refused to allow his eyes to break away. A wide smile engulfed his face as he raised his glass ever so slightly toward her and drank the last of his beer. The woman’s friends were oblivious to the exchange as Matt excused himself from the sushi bar and prepared to leave. Glancing over his shoulder as he headed for the exit, he saw the woman’s eyes still following him and a flirty half-smile on her face.

continued on Matt’s blog

Life is Good – March 27, 2009

Think they told us to sit still? by you.I was the second of four children in my family. My sister was born not quite two years earlier than I. My brothers were born two and four years later.

Growing up, I’m sure we girls were a drain on my mom’s sanity. Cory and I were as different as two girls could be. She was obedient whereas I was defiant. My sister was cooperative. I was not. I was a tomboy. Cory was a girly-girl. She could quietly push my buttons, whereas I was forceful in both my words and actions. It was a rare occasion when we got along together. Most days found us in our own separate worlds. We didn’t share friends and did everything we could to keep our distance from one another.

Mom was constantly admonishing, “Quit your bickering!” My mom had three older sisters, all of whom were out of the house by the time she started grade school. She didn’t understand why we weren’t thrilled to have the companionship of one another.

Our relationship didn’t improve in our teenage years. We were like oil and water. My sister couldn’t hide her disdain for my friends or boyfriends. I accused her of being a run-around. She was always “going out” with her best friend and I told her I couldn’t keep track of the boys in her circle of friends.

Neither of us liked the way the other dressed, yet we constantly “borrowed” each others clothing and jewelry without permission. Living in the small house in which we grew up, we were forced to share a bedroom all of our lives. I could not wait for her to go away to school when she was eighteen.

I rode along in the car on the day my parents drove my sister to college. The ride home was a quiet one. I wasn’t sure what I was feeling, but it certainly wasn’t the celebratory mood I expected. In the months that followed, I realized having the bedroom to myself wasn’t the big thrill I thought it would be either. The first time I heard the news that Cory was coming home to visit for a weekend, I was secretly ecstatic.

Something had changed. In the next few years, we began to stop judging and competing and really get know each other. We started to think we might actually like each other!  Before long, we found we had more in common than we’d ever given ourselves a chance to realize. My sister had become my best friend.

Our oldest children were born within months of each other and we shared the joys and trials of being new mothers together. We babysat for one another and we spent our free time together. When our older children were all old enough to go to school, I would spend my days off from work at her house enjoying her company and playing with my two baby nephews. Rarely a week went by that I wasn’t at her house or she wasn’t at mine.

My sister and I had finally become the friends my mom always wanted us to be. And that’s what made it so difficult when Cory and her family moved to Illinois. My best friend was gone. I was truly lonely without her. True, she is only a seven hour drive away. Visits now and then have been possible, but it just isn’t the same as having her just a few miles down the road, like she used to be. There are never enough days, never enough hours in our visits to make up for the time we spend apart. It’s been six years now since she moved away and I miss her terribly.

 We are wierd by you.On Wednesday this week, I was more tired than usual. I normally go to bed at ten o’clock, but I was ready to go at nine. I had just finished putting my pajamas on when I heard the phone ring, then Mark calling my name. I walked into the family room, mouthing to him, “Who is it?” I didn’t want to talk. I wanted to go to sleep.

“It’s your sister,” he whispered.

I was worried. It’s unlike her to call in the evening, much less near bedtime. I took the phone and put it to my ear.

“What’s up,” I asked?

“We’re moving back home,” she exclaimed!

I was so happy I couldn’t stop crying. (You know me by now. I cry at the drop of a hat.)

It’s job related. The economy has everything to do with it. They’ve both found jobs here and a house that is just as close as the last one was to mine. They’ll be here by June!

LIFE IS GOOD!

Sobering Reminders

Someone very close to me lost his job today. I want to describe him as a friend, but he is more than that. This friend ranks up there in the best friend category. He is the one we refer to as Man Friend; a term of endearment bestowed upon him because of his tight bond with my husband. The title, Man Friend insinuates a relationship that is something akin to girlfriend …only manlier. (Insert Tim Allen grunt here.)  Man Friend is more than just a friend. He is like family, only the kind of family you actually like and with whom you spend time willingly.

Man Friend  isn’t a solo act. He has two boys, one of whom has been my oldest son’s best friend since the first grade. (That’s about fourteen years for those who are counting.) And there is Man Friend’s wife too. She is one of my best friends. We work together. She is the reason I have the phenomenal job that I do.

When she told me the news today, I felt shell-shocked. She was at a loss, still trying to process this news. There had been nothing to indicate this job loss was a possibility. She cried and I hugged her and tried to find words of encouragement. And failed miserably.

We all talk about the economy and we worry about job losses. We hear about the increasing numbers in the unemployment lines. And we count ourselves among the lucky ones. And deep down inside we hang on to the belief that it won’t happen to us.

And then it happens to one of us and all the what ifs become reality. It is sobering.

I think he will be ok. He has many, many contacts. He has an incredible work ethic and a charming personality.

I think about all the times I complained about something… anything having to do with my job. I feel selfish. And I hurt for my friends.

So these friends who are family are facing a scary unknown tonight.

And my son has been busy sandbagging in Fargo, North Dakota where the Red River is going to crest and flood the area, causing chaos for those who live there.

And I am sitting here doing nothing more than writing a blog post with little else to worry about at the moment.

It all makes me feel a little selfish. It makes me realize how much I take for granted.

I have so much for which to be thankful. Why do I need constant reminders of this?

News from the Ball Busters

Just thought I’d make up for that last insanely long post with a quickie.

After a successful night of bowling, I felt compelled to share this exciting news with you.

I’m not saying it’s because of me (because it’s not,) but since I left my subbing days behind and joined the Ball Busters as a regular bowler, we have moved from sixth place into FIRST PLACE!

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Are you getting tired of this picture yet?