Monday, March 31, 2008

"Turned To The Dark Side"

My mom stopped by last night. She was picking me up so I could run over to my brothers house, and run an errand. When she walked into my kitchen she found me debating with my 12 year old son over a purposed trade in our fantasy baseball league. For the first time in her life I believe my mother was speechless. She stood there staring and listening to my son and I banter about major league pitchers. At that point my husband walked into the kitchen to refill his Coke and my mom turns to him and says: "You did it! I can't believe it, but you did it!!" Gregs response was: "Did what?" Mom replies: "You've turned her to the Dark Side. You've turned her into a sports fan." She was laughing but I got the feeling that becoming a sports fan was equal to voting for Ralph Nader or Ross Perot.

In the house that I grew up in sports wasn't a big deal. My Dad HATES basketball. My Mom is only interested if the Jazz are in the NBA finals. In the house that I grew up in the only sports events that we cared about were:

The Indy 500. My Dad skips church and watches this race every year. I only watch the end to see if Danika Patrick is going to win.
The Super Bowl. We would all sit down and watch the Super Bowl just kidding: the commercials and vote for the best one.
The World Series. This is the only event that we watched to actually watch the Sport.

Other than a couple of seasons I played softball, and my brother played baseball for a little while, that is the sum total of my sports training in my childhood.

I have been married for 15 and a half years, and I have learned allot. If my mother knew the truth she'd know: I knew that Tony Stewart--the driver of the Home Depot Car in Nascar -- got put on probation before the season started. I also know that he has never won the Daytona 500. I also saw the accident the killed Dale Earnhart Sr. I know when, where and what the Masters is. I watch the NFL games every Sunday, and all the playoff games. I also have fantasy football and baseball teams. I can keep score at baseball games and compute stats (although I still don't know how to figure a ERA). I try to know who wins the Stanley Cup, but I'm not very good at that one. I also watch college football and basketball. I even try to go to a couple games.

So what's the point?

Growing up in a non-sports family I always thought the world of sports was a little silly. I was wrong. My parents and family all think I'm nuts but I love it most of the time. I love that I can talk to my husband about something we both enjoy. I love talking to men and my sons friends about sports and see the shock on their faces when they figure out I'm not as stupid as they all thought. (I've gotten some really good laughs in that situation more than once.) But I guess my favorite thing is caring about something that doesn't really matter. Ten years from now will anyone still be talking about how the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl? Will anyone care that the Dodgers played games in China, or that the Red Sox opened their season in Japan? Nope. And that's why I love it.

In my opinion we spend allot of time worrying about things that do matter. The mortgage, the kids, our health, the job, the marriage, the bills, school, and on and on and on. We all need something to care about that doesn't matter to anybody else. For some people it's gardening, fashion, reading mystery novels, decorating, or whatever. For me, it's sports (most of the time, but I also love to read).

So yes Mom, I have "Turned To The Dark Side" and I'm loving every minute of it!! I also have never voted for Ralph Nader or Ross Perot!!!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fantasy Sports

This year my wonderful husband talked me into joining his Fantasy Baseball League. My team is named The Pink Sox. I was going to name them the Triumphant Tulips (after one of my favorite flowers) but my sister said that was just too much. Thanks Steph. Anyway, my husband sent me an email to see if I knew who was in first place. No I replied. Then I went and checked and of course HE IS!!!! I think he cheats. Don't ask me how because I can't even figure out how to run my team, but believe me he cheats!!

All joking aside, this is a side of sports that I didn't know even existed until after I got married. This was my introduction:

"Jill, I want to start a Fantasy Football League" he said.
"What the heck is a Fantasy Football League?" I asked.
He laughed.
I got angry.
Then he explained what a fantasy league was.
"That is the stupidest thing I've every heard. You need to get out more, or see a therapist." I said.
He started his league anyway, and is still at it.

Over the years I have to say that I have become "one of the crowd". I'm not any good at it. Except I have won once or twice. This really irritates my husband (and his buddies). The funny thing is, when I didn't care about sports (yes it's true at one point in my life I really didn't care -- but I did watch for Mets scores) I did a much better job with fantasy leagues. Now I care and it drives me crazy, that now I know more about sports but my fantasy league teams are always tanking. I really don't get it. Greg seems to go through cycles. For a year or two his teams are awful, and then as if it was a gift from the Gods of Fantasy Leagues, he'll do really well. Why can't that happen to me?

If you were to ask me if I preferred basketball, baseball, football which would I choose? Baseball hands down! But in the fantasy leagues football is much more fun. I think. Baseball season is too long and way to complicated for me to really understand how to run a baseball team. Football season is short and sweet, what is it 16 weeks? Baseball plays from the begining of April through September, 162 games give or take.

I read Mike Greenbergs book called "Why My Wife Thinks I'm An Idiot" (great read -- very funny), and he says that he knows more about sports than any "fantasy geek". I think he's lying. I'm married to a "fantasy geek" and I think Greenie missed the boat with this one. My husband can tell me stats about sports, that I didn't even know exsisted!! And that's just from being a "fantasy geek". Granted, Greenie makes his living talking about sports. But he also has a research department to help him. I'm not saying that my husband knows everything, but the stuff he knows blows me away!!!

I must admit, sometimes I still tease my husband about his fantasy teams, but he has a good time. This year he'll have a great time teasing me about how bad my team is but it's all in good fun.

I have decided why I like sports so much. It lets me escape for a little while. I can watch men throw a baseball faster and hit it farther than I ever could. But while I watch I can forget for an hour or two about the bills that are due, the laundry that needs to be washed, and work the next morning. I don't have to be anywhere else, or thinking about anything else. And when those few hours are done, I can go back to my little life and start worrying.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Why do we do this?

Every morning after I get the kids off to school I sit down at my computer and check my email and play on the internet for a while. Yesterday was no different. I received an email from a family member, which gave me a link to Facebook. On the Facebook site, there was a link that had something to do with Mormons. Being Mormon myself, I clicked on the link that sent me to YouTube. The things I saw on YouTube made me sick to my stomach. Literally.

Let me be clear. I am a Mormon and I truly believe in the doctrine of my church. There are certain things that I feel are sacred and do not and will not talk about except in certain circumstances. These things are not secrets, to me they are sacred, there is a difference. As Mormons we believe in Temples. The events that go on in temples and not secret, but they are sacred.

As I watched the videos on YouTube, they were not all disturbing to me. Mormons have their own culture, and I'll be the first to admit, we are a little weird. To me, it's fun to watch Mormons make fun of Mormons. Unfortunately not all the videos were lighthearted and funny. There were some videos about the Temple and what goes on there. To me, these things are sacred.

I was angry. Very angry. I just don't understand why we feel its necessary to do these kinds of things. Why do we try so hard to destroy someones faith? Why do we try so hard to tell someone that they're wrong?

There were several videos of a man from Australia who came all the way to Salt Lake to tell everyone that he hated Mormons. Well, that sure seems like a great use of money and time. I personally think that guy needs to get a life. Why does he care if Mormons actually believe in their church? In my opinion this guy need to find something productive to do. He says that he's atheist. I don't care as long as that works for him. What I do care about though, is why we feel it necessary to try and destroy something for someone that makes them happy and a better person.

Being Mormon doesn't make me an expert on religion, but I speak from my own experience. I don't care what other people believe. I really don't. The only thing I really care about when it comes to someone else's faith is: Does it make them happy? Being a Mormon can sometimes have a funny effect on people. I can't tell you how many times I've been heard:

"How many wives does your husband have?"
"Where are your horns?"
"How many kids do you have?"
"I thought Mormons dressed differently."
"I didn't think Mormon women were allowed to wear jeans."

I guess the point of this blog is: Why do we care so much about someone else's religion? I'm a Mormon, and that works for me. I feel it helps me become a better person. That doesn't mean it will work for you. Maybe if everyone would start accepting people for what they are we would all be happier.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Don't sit on the backrow at a Church Basketball Game"

Last night, my husband was the referree at the Womens Region Finals for our church. It's not nearly as exciting as it sounds. It's heald in a Church, with a handful of spectators. These are my thoughts:

First of all, let me explain, Church sports is something that I really don't care for. In my limited experience, Church Basketball is a brawl that begins and ends with prayer. But I'm told I'm wrong. I'm wrong about many things. Also, these games are held in what's called "The Cultural Hall" aka: a gym. Why do we call it a "Cultural Hall"? When I walk into a large room that has a shiny hardwood floor that has the lines painted on it to make it look like a basketball court, and the room has a basketball hoop at each end, IT'S A GYM! Or a basketball court, NOT A CULTURAL HALL!!!

As I sat at this game, I watched the spectators, and let me tell you, if you want a good laugh, go watch a Womens Church Basketball Game. First, the parents. I don't know why parents would feel it necessary to go and watch their grown daughter play in a church ball game. I really don't. The game itself is about as much fun as watching paint dry. The thing that is so intresting about watching the parents, is how they react to calls name by the refs. At one point at the end of the game, the losing team started to foul the winning team. I'm told that doing this gives the losing team a chance to get the ball back, and score more points. Okay I understand that IF IT WERE THE NBA, not church basketball. And the losing team was down by 19 points!! Did they really think that were going to make that up in a minute and a half? Anyway, a foul was called, (it was not a shooting foul), and the mother of the (adult) player shouted "...SHE SHOULD GET FREE THROWS!!! THAT WAS INTENTIONAL!!!" Really? I don't even like basketball, but I understood the call. Now you must understand, this was not a high school or college game, or even a game of consequence (it seemed to me). I laughed at the mother.

The next thing I found hilarious were the husbands of the players. They all turned into the coach. This is some of what I heard:

"DRIVE HARD TO THE BASKET!!!" --that was my favorite because the lady that had the ball appeared to be in her sixties!!!

It seem to me that these men were playing an evolved version of "Mine is Bigger than Yours". But hey -- this is church basketball -- our eternal salvation hangs in the balance.

But what made this experience truly awful were the children. We sat on the back row. I wasn't there to watch the game, I figured we'd leave the good seats to those who cared. I should get brownie points somewhere for that great sacrifice. And it was a sacrifice. Because as most of you know, Mormons are notorious for having big families, and where do you think all those kids were? Back with me and my family. They paraded between our seats and the huge acordian door behind us, bumping our chairs. One kid decided to make his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtel action figure jump all over me -- from my head, to my feet, to my arms, to my legs -- I think you get the picture. One kid hit Katie several times.

Now you have to remember: Mom's playing basketball, Dad's coaching, and Grandma is screaming at the refs. So I ask who is changing the diapers? NOBODY THAT'S WHO!!! So the reason you never want to sit in the back row of a church basketball game is:

1-You get to watch otherwise perfectly normal men think they can coach like Coach K.
2-All of a sudden a mother who doesn't know a 3-second violation from the 3-point line become an expert in the rules of basketball.
3-If you sit on the back row you turn into:
a: a personal jungle gym
b: a personal punching bag
c: a playground for action figures

Am I the only one that thinks that this is plain silly? Leave the church sports to the youth. It's something they really care about. I've known more than one person that eventually converts to the church because he made friends playing basketball. I think watching that ball game last night would send anyone investigating the church run screaming from the building. I can get alot more excited about watching the youth play ball, than end up babysitting a bunch of kids I don't know because their parents are too busy making fools of themselves.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Prayer, Love and Faith

Today I've been working around the house, listening to my ipod, just trying to get things done, and I've been thinking. Alot.

For those of you who don't know I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. aka:I'm a Mormon. Don't worry, I'm not going to talk doctrine, I'm going to talk about prayer, love, and faith. I believe these topic can apply to anyone, so don't sign-off just yet.

I've been watching the people that I love very carefully over the past several days. Sometimes, that's hard. I hate that people that I care for are struggling, but I guess it's just a fact of life. I discovered I really wanted to help them, but didn't know how. For once, I think I did the right thing. I prayed. Now let me be clear: I don't care what you personally believe, but I think that prayer can help anyone. In short: I don't believe that you have to be a Mormon to let prayer help you. However, I can only speak from my own experience.

Anyway, my prayers helped me, and they helped the people I love, because I let them. Here's what I mean: I felt better, I felt happier, I felt more calm, I felt that the best thing I could do was to love them. I know that sounds really stupid, but that's what I felt. I realized that was the only I could do. Everyone makes bad choices (especially me), and sometimes all that is needed is support and love. Things that seemed so important before, all of a sudden weren't important at all. I just kept thinking that I loved them, and they loved me, and that was all that mattered.

I must admit however, that to me, it seemed all too simple. I kept thinking: that's it? There's not more? That's where my faith came in. And it wasn't really faith in God, it was faith in me. I had to find the faith to remember what I learned, and what to do. I had to have faith, that I didn't need to rush in and make everything all better (I tend to do that). I had to have faith that loving someone sometimes is all you can do.

Things are not resolved. I still have questions, and concerns, but I feel better. It's funny how small lessons, really aren't small. And how sometimes you need to be reminded of what you already knew.

I love my family. We're all NUTS!!! Every single one of us. But my family is mine, and they make me feel loved and safe (most of the time). We fight, we argue, we're loud, obnoxious, and opinionated but I love them all. From my parents, grandparents, brothers, sister, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, and of course my husband and children.

Hey guys -- We're a strange bunch, but I love you all!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Selection Sunday

I am not much of a basketball fan. In fact, I hate the NBA, I'll tell you why another time. But I find that I am actually excited that "March Madness" is finally here.

I did experience a bit of a let down after the Superbowl (WAY TO GO GIANTS!!!). Since baseball is not yet in full swing, (the kids have just started practicing) I'm really looking forward to the Tournament this year.

Like I said, I'm not a huge basketball fan, but I do have teams I love to watch, and love to hate.

For instance, I love watching Duke. I'm a huge fan of Coach K. (I'm not even to try to spell his name). I love to hate Kentucky -- they always seem to beat my Utes. I guess the thing that I love about watching the tournament is that I love watching people do things that they are passionate about. Coach K. is a great example. He found "his thing".You Know what I mean, the one thing that you know your good at, that you love, that makes you happy, that your passionate about. I think that everybody spends most of their lives trying to find "their thing" and very few people actually find it.

I'm looking forward to watching the tournament because for most of those kids, basketball isn't a job. These kids have amazing talent, and drive, and when I watch them play, I can tell they wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Like I said, I believe that very few actually find "their thing". I know I'm still searching, but I haven't given up. I'm excited for the NCAA tournament this year because I love to watch people do what makes them happy. If you don't think it makes those kids happy, look at the faces of the losing team, and them look at the faces of the winning team. Watch the spectators, the moms and dad, girlfriends, boyfriends, roommates and families. You know that corny line "...the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat..." I can't believe I just wrote that.

Sports is a culture, I love being a part of it (in the small way that I am). It's a culture of skill, talent, drive, practice, family and a million other things. Maybe that's why I like it. I know that's why I like college sports. For some it does turn into "a job". For most it doesn't. But you can tell they love to play.

My life does consist of more than the next sporting event, but this is what I want to talk about right now. More later.

Friday, March 14, 2008

I have a life that at times is very rewarding. But my life is always messy. I will tell you my likes and dislikes, I'll talk about my friends and family (I will change names to protect and innocent and the guilty). I'll talk about my blessings and my trials. I'll talk about my feelings and what I think about things in the world. I've always been opinionated (just ask anyone who knows me), so I just might upset you. I don't care.

Today not only do I feel like my life is messy, I feel like it's out of control. Sometimes the choices of others effect me too much. At times I feel selfish, but I believe everyone is justified to stay in bed with the covers pulled up over their head every once in a while. I'm not suggesting that we hide from all of our problems, but sometimes I just need to feel safe.

I know that I have caused more than one person to feel like I'm feeling today, and I'm sorry. I guess that old saying: "...what goes around comes around..." really is true.

On to happier subjects. I LOVE BASEBALL!!! I love watching games either at the ball park or in my family room on TV. I LOVE IT!!!!!! I know it's spring when: first, regular season starts and second, when my tulips are blooming.

Yesterday I dropped my son off at "spring-training". It was cold and rainy, but it was great. When I went to pick him up, I talked with what I call "The Baseball Crowd". These are friends that I hardly ever see during the off-season, but I see everyday during the season. Oddly enough, these are some of my closest fiends. I really should make more friends (or keep in touch with my old ones.)

These friends are important to me. I cheer with them over great plays and amazing hits, as well as great report cards and new opportunities. I also cry with them, when they let in the winning run on an error, or when a family is facing cancer, or opportunities just don't turn out the way we want them to. I could probably describe how I feel about these people by calling them my "Baseball Family". These are all people that my kids play ball with. And no, I don't like all of them, and they don't all like me. But there are some that I find truly amazing. I am excited to see them all again. I'm hoping to have this "family" grow this year, because my girls have decided to play softball. A new league means new friends.