Dream Come True

One of the dreams I’ve had for Riley since she was born came true Saturday. She played her first softball game. I’ve been waiting 6 years for this day, and it was worth it. Seeing her swinging that bat, running the bases and stopping and throwing the ball made my heart so full. And except for a little trouble with the batting helmet, we had no problems with her cochlear implants, and she was able to hear the coaches telling her when to run and when to stop.

I started softball when I was 6 and played for 20 straight years, until I started working nights as a sportswriter. My mom and dad both played; heck, my little brother and I practically grew up on a ballfield. While they played on the field, we played behind the bleachers, using a wadded up paper cup as ball and our hands as the bat. My husband played baseball for years, too, and we both ended up with college scholarships.

Yeah, it’s a little selfish that I want her to play because I get such enjoyment from it, but I have other reasons. It’s healthy, it will keep her out of trouble and it will help her make friends and give her confidence.

The only trouble we had with her Freedoms was when she tried to put on her batting helmet the first couple of times. She got nervous and rushed and kept knocking the magnet coil off. Thankfully, on her third at-bat, she had figured out the way to do it and was ready to go.

This is her first at-bat; she went 3-for-3 in an 18-17 loss. In T-ball, each team bats until it scores six runs or makes three outs.

Here’s Riley taking third on a basehit by a teammate. She didn’t score this inning, she did after her final at-bat.

Here’s Papa making an emergency glove repair in the second or third inning. The lace along the thumb came out and had to be restrung and tightened. It worked because Riley stopped a ball later in the game when she was playing centerfield.

After the game she said, “The Pink Panthers didn’t win, but maybe next time.” Except for the nervousness over the helmet with her first two at-bats, everything went smoothly. She knew where to run, how to stop the ball and where to throw it. It was an awesome experience. Even if she decides she doesn’t want to play again, I will treasure this season with my little softballer. Go, #17! Go, Pink Panthers!

Flashback: 1st Month (11-13-2001, 3:15 p.m.)


This first month with you has been beyond anything I could imagine. Your soft cheeks, your sweet smells, your beautiful sighs and cries, and your gorgeous face are worth the nine months I carried you inside me.

Even though the 3 or 4 a.m. feedings are hard, when I look at you it’s all OK. My life has changed forever, but it’s a wonderful, amazing change!

You’ve changed so much since the day you were born! You’re bigger and longer. Your fingers are getting plumper, your lips are pinker, your head is rounder and you’re sweeter every day.

You watch me and Papa walk around and you “talk” back to us when we talk to you. I know you’re learning new things every day while you’re awake. That’s why I don’t mind if you stay awake. You’re sleeping good at night and eating well and growing and that’s the most important thing.

Well, you’re calling me now so I’ll stop until later.


You know it seemed like she could hear us at this point, because I wrote that she was “talking” back to us. But apparently all babies babble, and maybe Riley was just imitating the movement of our mouths. Going back over all this is fun, but at times it’s also painful. If only we’d known sooner.

But then I snap back and realize that she’s perfect now. And we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be.

Flashback: The Day Riley Was Born (Oct. 17, 2001)

It was a beautiful, chilly fall day. Ryan and I, my parents, my brother and sis-in-law got to the hospital around 4:30 a.m. for my C-section. Baby was breech and wouldn’t turn because I was a bit low on the amniotic fluid. We checked in and got settled in L&D. We all peed (nervous, anyone?), and I changed into the lovely blue gown.

After trying to get the IV in and missing, the nurse finally had to stick the darn thing in my right hand. Then the “shave team” (as Ryan called them) did its job. They took me back to the OR about 6:45; Ryan and Momma came with me. Daddy, Michael, Robin and my aunt Sherri were in the waiting room.

Even while he was working the video camera, Ryan comforted me and was a huge help. Of course, Momma was right there, as always. Both of them were in awe as Dr. Shannon and Dr. Spangler went to work at 7 a.m. “OK, you’ll feel some pressure and some tugging.” Eight minutes later, our baby was born. “OK, here’s the bottom. We have a girl!”

Ryan said the first thing he saw after she was born was the sunrise. It was a gorgeous day.

The whole thing seemed to fly by; I definitely hated having my arms strapped down. When I saw her, I cried and said, “She’s beautiful.”

Momma asked, “What’s her name?”

Ryan and I both said, “Riley Ann.”

Because of the spinal and the “goofy juice,” I was so out of it that I wasn’t able to hold Riley until 1 p.m. I was freezing and shaking so badly; it was miserable. Everyone but me got to hold her. But once I got her in my arms, all was right.

She was born on Wednesday, and we went home on Saturday, not knowing what a journey it would end up being.

Jolly Old St. Nicholas

So “Santa” came to visit the little ones at our family Christmas party Saturday night. He had a sack full of gifts for every kid under 18. (When you turn 18, you start playing Dirty Santa.)

Last year my dad was Santa, and we talked him into doing it again this year. Last year, none of the kids had a clue. This year not so much. After Santa left and Daddy came back, Riley looked down at his shoes and said, “You the Santa!” And she just laughed and laughed.

On the way home, I said, “Wow, Riley. Santa brought you a dog, like you asked for.”
Riley: “Pawpaw is Santa.”
Me: “What makes you think that?”
Riley: “I saw his shoes, Pawpaw’s brown shoes.” Laughing… “Santa has black boots.”

So cute, and it did nothing to alter her love for the real Santa. 🙂

Here we are gettin’ our groove on to a little Elvis, probably “All Shook Up.” We also did the Pepsi-Cola dance to “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate. And we all got down to a little “Baby Got Back.” Good times, good times.

My uncle is taking Riley and her cousin for a spin around the dance floor.

Here’s Riley and Granma. She’s 85 and the source of our love for Elvis. She gets everyone something for Christmas every year. This year the grandkids and great-grandkids each got a presidential gold dollar. If you don’t think that’s a lot, consider that she has 8 kids, plus all but one of them have at least two kids, then the grandkids now have kids. That’s a lot of money for an 85-year-old on a fixed income. And we all get birthday money, too. 🙂

End-of-the-night family portrait. We had a ball!

I hope you all feel the love of family and friends this season. Merry Christmas! Here’s my crazy, beautiful family singing “Silent Night” at the end of the party to remind us why we celebrate. Love to all!