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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The B Team

So I made a LeBron deal with my son.

My soccer kid got the itch to play basketball this year, which we found amusing since he’s been sort of cold on the sport the past few years. Who knows what triggers a 13-year-old? Especially Cole. Maybe he wanted to impress a girl. Maybe he wanted to hang out with his buddies. Maybe he was influenced by a celebrity who has glamorized the sport. (No!) Or maybe he just truly found his heart in the game. No matter. His Dad and I were excited to see him doing anything other than assassinate...xBox style, of course.

I was even more pleased to find a pair of hand-me-down Nike basketball shoes from one of his cousins. For once, we’d save some money on an activity! And since 7th grade basketball is school-sponsored, there’d be no jersey to purchase! No additional t-shirt to buy! Just perhaps some socks…for the low, low price of $20 per pair.

After the first day of practice Cole informed us the A and B teams were already selected. Apparently the A Team kids have been playing together on a select team for years. That ship sailed for our kid in the 4th grade already. And while Cole was disappointed, we encouraged him. I,  being the super-motivator I am, told him to work hard, keep a positive attitude and good things will happen! After all, Michael Jordan didn’t even make it onto his high school team at first!

Well, Cole had another idea.

If only he had LeBron shoes…his game would improve so much. He’d probably become amazing. NBAish.

His father immediately dismissed the idea. I sort of smiled to myself and thought, “Maybe Christmas.”

After a few weeks into the season, I was on a shopping trip with my daughter. We visited the Footlocker. After asking the sales assistant about these mystical shoes, he directed us away from the regular display of footwear into the LeBron ROOM. Not only is there a room dedicated to his gear, but Mr. James has his own fancy logo made to resemble a crown. Obviously, this LeBron is something pretty special. Then we came to the shoes. I really can't tell you much about the design. All I noticed was the $300 price tag.

No way, Cole.

I’m not one to kill dreams. But I do like to encourage.  When we got home that night, I offered Cole a deal, “You make it on the A Team, I’ll buy you those LeBron shoes.”

His face dropped and he moped away. Later he said to his sister, “Does Mom realize that I have no chance of getting on the A Team?”

Of course I did. Thus, the offer. But I didn’t want him to stop working hard.

Here’s how the season went down.

Cole started on the C team.

After his first game, he was moved to the B team starting as the point guard. And after some mentoring from his coach and even more pointed and copious advice from his dad, Cole made awesome progress–as objectively observed by his mother.

Luckily for me, he didn’t make it on to the A team. And no one had to shell out $300. But I don't think Cole was terribly disappointed. I believe he found the reward in his efforts, which makes me proud.

He practiced whenever he could–even when it was crazy cold and his fingers were ice. He studied the game on the Internet and TV, asking his dad questions about strategy.  He can even finally beat me at HORSE.

Parents tend to be annoying when watching their kids play sports. There isn’t one of us who isn’t just a tiny bit nuts. Because once our kids are born, we’re amazed we've created something. Then once they begin to form into beings, we ponder their potential. Maybe, just maybe, we’ve created the next Michael Jordan! Or LeBron.

Probably not though. And that’s okay. Because we created someone else. Someone unique. Someone who reflects a piece of us. And someone who’s a miracle no matter if they’re on the A, B, C team, or watching from the sideline.

It's a great time of year to make your kid feel like a miracle.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cookie Monster

#HolidayBakingChampionship. Life Changing?

I’ve been watching the Holiday Baking Championship with Bobby Deen on the Food Network Channel. It’s riveting. Sugar and bourbon concoctions. Burnt confessions. Decorating divas and some molten disasters. Intense bakers on a quest to create something delicious and stunning. Judges devouring as they pick apart texture, flavors, and plating. "There's a flavor here that's off-putting? Did you use flour as your thickening agent?"  It’s so much fun!

And apparently inspiring.

The show (along with a baking magazine at a checkout line) gave me an imbued confidence in regard to my own skills with a whisk and rolling pin. So I took to the kitchen this weekend, beginning my new venture as a pastry chef. How'd I fare? Well, beside a flour-dusted kitchen, the results were...something unusual for our family. Homemade cookies in the house. Here's the lowdown.

Recipe #1: M&M pretzel drop cookies.

Result:  Tasty enough. (There was chocolate in them for God's sake!) Not terribly moist. In terms of appearance, the cookie was about as pretty as an M&M pretzel could probably be. Other foibles: Burnt my last batch. Perfect cookie chips for the dog. Yes, I know dogs shouldn't eat chocolate.

Recipe #2: Cranberry shortbread cookies.

My results
Result: As tasty as shortbread gets. Even moist! In terms of appearance, the design is somewhat recognizable as a star. Ok...a little disappointed on the look. Note: These cookies were hard to make! Lots of rolling. Cranberries stuck to the cutout. And it took me, like, forever. Will have to do some deep soul searching before attempting this cookie again.

How the cookies are supposed to look
 I had plans of baking a few more varieties, but I ran out of weekend daylight. And I had plenty of cookies to give out anyway. (Discovery: true homemade batches are voluminous compared to store-bought!) Admittedly, I was anxious how these were going to go over. After all, when was the last time I used something as organic as flour and butter?

So, how did they go over you ask? It's Wednesday and every single cookie from last weekend is gone. I'm not sure that means the cookies were delicious, but it at least means they were edible. (I liked them, but I'm not terribly picky when it comes to sugary treats.) I really do hope my cookies were enjoyed... because I've already decided–more is coming. Just need to determine which one of my many dog-eared recipes to conquer.

The Holiday Baking Challenge. Try it. Even if you don't bake. Challenging yourself is... invigorating! And hopefully not terribly torturous to those around you.