Formerly the Birchfield family blog, this space has been taken over by Sydney B., hip-hop dancer, softball player, fashion designer and youngest of the Birchfield clan.

There will be an occasional note from mom when something of interest pops up, but most of the commentary/photos/drawings will be from the young mind of Sydneyboo, diva in training.

No spelling or grammar critiques, please!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Calgon, Take Me Away

I have been back in K-town for one week now and I'm already wishing I had never returned. Ah, to be back at the shore, free from dealing with the hell that is competetive baseball. I made the mistake of traveling to Sevier County yesterday to watch the son play some ball and spent the rest of the afternoon wishing I had stayed home.

It is so disheartening to come to a beautiful stadium, excited to see your child play in a professional facility and realize you're surrounded by complainers, moaners, criticizers, excuse-makers, finger-pointers, back biters -- the list goes on for days. And these, my friends, are the PARENTS. Sigh...

I have spent much of the season away, preferring to receive my game updates via text message from Joe just so I don't have to drown myself in the muck and yuck of being a spectator at one of these tournaments. But yesterday the games were at Smokies Stadium, and the girls and I thought it would be fun to see them play in such a nice facility. The facility was beautiful. J. played well (though that is not exactly the story if you talk to his uncle about it, but it never is the story if you talk to his uncle about it) and you could just see how much fun he was having. It literally made my heart happy to see him enjoying playing again. Made me wish for one minute that this wasn't the end of the road for all this baseball stuff.

That was not a typo. This is it, the grand finale, for Joe B. in the competitive baseball arena -- Thank God. May be the end of the road for the kid, too, if you believe what he's been saying for the last couple of months. It isn't a picture perfect going away party, but it'll do. Even though I have prayed for years for an end to the stress that goes along with all of it, it is still a little sad to think we will no longer be part of this particular *team* next year. The truth is, though, we haven't felt part of the *team* this year anyway, not even among the other family members taking part in team activities. And once you're an outsider in your own circle, trust me, it's time to hit the road.

So with relieved heart, Joe has made the decision to focus on the softball and leave the baseball behind. He enjoys coaching the girls more anyway because they tend to listen better (at least at this young age they do!) and right now, even with the crazy mamas that come with softball, everything seems less stressful. Joe and I made a pact early on that we would not make the same mistake with Kel that we did with J., going competitive so young. We will play for the enjoyment of it and try to avoid the mess that we find ourselves in now with the baseball. With the exception of a couple of minor bumps, so far, so good.

So today, Joe is in Jefferson City, coaching first base, supporting, cheering, wanting to win, even though his child watches from the dugout...again. Joe is the best person I know. Even though it's almost too hard to watch, too hard to go every weekend never knowing whether he will be cheering for his kid or just everybody else's, he goes. Even though he gets blamed when tournament schedules aren't exactly right, he still coordinates tournaments. Even though he gets blamed when the team budget is busted because of expensive uniforms and Christmas parties, he still hands out coaches' money on trips and pays the team credit card bill. For me, I do not have the stomach for it anymore. It causes too much upset. But, ever the optimist, he keeps the faith.

Speaking of faith, I watched a movie called Evan Almighty the other night (not great, but a decent time filler). I mention it because there is a part in the movie where God says to Evan's wife, "When you pray for patience, do you think God gives you patience or gives you the opportunity to be patient? When you pray for a stronger family, does God just make you stronger or does he give your family the opportunity to strengthen?" And that has been in my mind ever since. I have prayed for an end to this baseball business for a long time, but never wanting it to end with Joe and J. being treated like the invisibles, only just for it to end. But then I got to thinking, I prayed for it and maybe this is the way God is offering the opportunity for the prayer to be answered. We shall see...

Well, folks, I'm off to lovely Crossville for some softball action this weekend. Hope your weekend is sunny and bright!


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Voting Republican

I got this in an e-mail from a dear friend of mine about a week ago and wrestled with whether to put this up on the blog. About half of my family are die-hard Republicans and that is sometimes a little awkward for me and the other half of my family that leans a little more liberally. But after a pep talk from above-mentioned dear friend I decided that this is MY blog and I shouldn't muzzle myself TOO much here. After all, this is where I come to let it all out anyway.

So if you're one of my fellow Democrats, enjoy. If you're a friend/family member and you're luvin' McCain (Is that possible?), don't take it personally. We can just agree to disagree.



Joey and his Pops

Syd boogies down

Kel's wipeout

Kelsey's airbrushed tattoo

Sydney's tat

Joey catching a wave

Well, it has been more than 2 weeks since I have updated and I promise I have spent my time wisely. The clan just returned from our annual Daytona Beach mecca and we are all a little browner, a little more rested and a little sad to be back in the *real world*. The crowd was a little thin this year, only 10 of us in attendance. As the years have gone by, our numbers have lessened by about half. As the grandparents age and as economic times become more trying, the idea of a vacation 660 miles away from home sometimes becomes a little too difficult to tackle for some. So this year's trip was only for the die-hards!

We did the usual while we were there, boogie boarding, putt-putt, batting cages, dog track, flea market and plenty of restaurants. This year the dog track was in a new location, new building, new system, new everything. Not QUITE as much fun as in years past. The seating is limited and what seating is available is not elevated, so you can't really see the action. I did like the automated betting, however, since it alleviated the nail-biting, last minute, am I gonna get to the teller in time wait in line that goes with playing the dogs. I am all about convenience, ya' know.

The weather was great while we were there, warm, but not stifling, and easy breezy. The waves were good the first couple of days, too. Joey and Dave-O got in some good body surfing time. We gathered sea shells, threw football on the beach and dodged jellyfish. It was, all in all, a picture postcard vacation.

So what's new here? Hmmmm.... J.'s playing in a tourney at Smokies Park this weekend, the minor league stadium in Sevierville. All the kids seem excited about that opportunity. I hope to get some good pictures of that to put up later. Kelsey's playing in the state tourney in beautiful, scenic Crossville this weekend. The weather's supposed to be a balmy 89 degrees, too. Pass the sunscreen, please...

I guess that's it, folks. I'm gonna post some vacay pictures above. Enjoy!


Monday, June 9, 2008


This one goes out to Tracy Lee because her memory is long and I know she will TOTALLY enjoy the cheese coming out of this video. Good times, my friend. Good times...


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

This is from an e-mail my Aunt Sharon sent me this morning. Sometimes it's almost like she has ESP and knows right where I'm at. She oftentimes sends me e-mails that speak to exactly how I'm feeling at the time. Enjoy!

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or
sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair
of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!?

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:

'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it. And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Different Strokes

It's funny how different people can be sometimes. Even in your own family, people can be so different and it can leave you wondering which side of the family you favor. As I've gotten older, I have no doubt my personality favors my paternal side of the family -- very Irish, very short-tempered, opinionated, passionate, impulsive, fiercely protective, demonstrative. I don't apologize for that. It is what it is. I lived with my paternal grandparents until my sweet Granddaddy died and then I stayed with my mom and my grandmother until I left to get married, so I was more influenced by them, I guess.

My maternal side of the family is the total opposite. Most of the women (I say women because literally the only remaining male in the family -- blood male, that is -- is my brother and I can include him in that women group because he is quite the diva) are very close-mouthed, passive, genteel types. They are protective, too, but more protective of privacy than anything, I guess. Not the in-your-face protective I tend to be when threatened.

Not meaning anything negative at all by the comparisons. I love my family. It just strikes me sometimes how different I am from them. You know how sometimes when you're a kid and you just feel like you don't fit in anywhere? That's sorta me in my family, the *different* one. Like maybe the big family secret is that I was adopted and that will explain it all! Nobody really agrees with most things I do and I feel certain my actions have been the subject of several dinnertime discussions over the years.

Most days it doesn't bother me because I like being different, blazing my own trails and not apologizing for going my own way. But then there are days or weeks like this week where I do. Sometimes I wish I was more passive, less offended, more private. But even when I try to be, then people ask me what's wrong. So I just figure I'm just me and I go back to my usual, sorta like putting on my comfortable PJs -- it fits.

When I was a teenager, I always thought my dad was like me that way, where he many times felt like he didn't fit in. He just always seemed to *get* me -- like peas and carrots, Forrest. He used to take me everywhere with him, basketball practices, baseball games, even when my mom and brother didn't go. Sometimes when you're an oddball it's nice having another oddball around, I guess.

I don't really know where this is going, but maybe I'm just feeling kinda disjointed because my current oddball buddy is out of town. Maybe it's because it's ball season and everybody is freaking out on the coaches (as usual). And maybe it's just because it's a week away from vacation and I could use one right about now. You know, like in the movie, What About Bob? when Dr. Leo Marvin writes Bob a prescription for a vacation from his problems? That's the kind of vacay I could use, but maybe with a side of margarita!

On a different note, I want to say that Kelsey B. laid down the most beautiful bunt you have ever seen in her last league game of the season last night. She's doing so well this year in softball and she loves her summer buddies. They are so funny in the dugout chanting their cheers with each other (though by the end of a game, the sound of the cheers can make a person want to curl into the fetal position for about 48 hours!). Kelsey sometimes struggles during the school year to find her fit with her homeschool friends, but in the summertime it's like the puzzle is complete when her softball friends are around. It makes my heart happy.

Well, that's it, folks. Sorry to be a little gloomy today. Sometimes writing it all down helps me make sense of it all. Cya soon!


Monday, June 2, 2008

Love Me

Thought I'd put a little video up here for JB. He's on travel for a bit and it's been a rough start to the week for me and I'm missing him. When we were first together, he said this would be *our* song. Sappy, but sweet. We even played it before the ceremony at our wedding. I haven't heard it in a long time, but I woke up with it in my head for some reason. So I thought I'd listen to it for a minute.

So (doing my best Casey Kasem), here you go, Kristi, here's your long distance dedication -- Love Me!

Wish you were here, Jose...