Category Archives: soccer

World Cup recap – bonding over balls and beer

Are you a soccer fan? Prior to the recent World Cup tournament, I certainly wouldn’t have declared myself to be one. When I answered Matt Baumgartner’s call for temporary employees to assist during the tournament, I was responding as a worker, not a soccer fanatic. But, something has definitely changed. This whole soccer thing? I think I like it.

Although two of my boys play soccer, I’ve avoided the moniker “soccer mom” with the skill of a teenager ducking household chores. Not me, no way. I attend games and cheer enthusiastically from the sidelines, but I certainly have no interest in driving around in a minivan with a soccer ball decal stuck to the back window. You know me, I’m not much of a joiner or follower.

The first match I worked was Team USA vs Portugal. The crowd at Wolff’s Biergarten was tremendous – pumped up and loud, but in no way aggressive or obnoxious. I loved their enthusiasm and the excitement was contagious. This was definitely going to be fun.

As “our” team advanced, along with Team Germany, the team of my maternal side of the family, I realized that my soccer playing middle son needed to be part of the scene. I arranged to bring him and a couple of his friends down to check out a match. They were awesome! In a crowd of hundreds, they hung out, clad in red, white and blue, mesmerized by the game and the other spectators. I was impressed by their poise and comfort and knew that Griffin and I would become regulars for the duration of the tournament.

As the matches came fast and furious, so did the communication between my family and me – emails, Facebook messages and status updates. Knowing that my family in Germany were occupied watching the same event as we were, was intensely comforting. Who knew that a ball game could make the world seem so small? I absolutely loved it.

When Team USA was eliminated, we placed our energy into cheering on the motherland, Deutschland. Our German flag accompanied us to the subsequent matches and I cherished the opportunity to be proud of being German in a world that doesn’t always perceive us as being worthy of admiration. The hefeweizen flowed and steins were raised amidst shouts of Prost! and Griffin and I hung out, side by side, united in our interest for 90+ minutes.

Photo: Wolff's Biergarten

Photo: Wolff’s Biergarten

Four years from now, my son will be 19, perhaps not as inclined to hang out in a sports bar with his mom as he was this year. I’d like to think, though, that he’ll someday tell his own children about the times he and I spent together watching the World Cup. If he doesn’t, believe me, I will.

More pictures from the tournament here.

http://www.timesunion.com/seen-events/slideshow/SEEN-U-S-A-vs-Belgium-World-Cup-at-Wolff-s-88979.php

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Filed under Albany, beer, Boys, Events, family, Germany, soccer, Summer, television

A rich summer vs. summer enrichment

For those of you with school age children – what are your summers like?  Are they a time to explore new interests, further develop skills and pad college applications?  Are your children busy with summer jobs or camps?  Maybe they’re already tackling their summer reading lists to get a jump on things for fall.  All good things I suppose.

Around my house, though, things don’t look quite like that.  My oldest son has been busy re-watching episodes of Murder She Wrote and mastering the art of making omelets.  He also has a part-time unpaid internship set to begin in another week or so and I know he is looking forward to that experience.  Liam also learned recently how to pay by phone for Chinese food when I forgot to bring my wallet when I picked up the Chinese food, which meant he needed to call in my credit card information.  I think that’s an important life lesson, don’t you?

The middle guy has been occupied with playing lacrosse and watching the World Cup.  He’s been working on his game, both on and off the field, and I had a weird sense of pride when I saw his photo in a recent Seen gallery shot at Wolff’s Biergarten.  He was rocking his red, white and blue and appeared completely comfortable taking in the match while surrounded by beer-fueled adults.  I believe he finally may now understand that spending a little time each day doing homework eliminates the need to spend 10 more months taking Spanish 2 because you failed the class with a 62.5.  My walk last night with Jeter also taught him that I may just unexpectedly come around the corner when he is out hanging with his friends in the neighborhood – a good lesson for him to absorb, don’t you think?

As for my youngest, well, this week he mastered making his own pbj and has been taking even bigger steps towards independence.  Last weekend, for instance,  he attended an afternoon birthday party a couple of blocks away and walked home solo.  Sort of.  The birthday girl’s mom texted when he was leaving and there may have been an older cousin who walked him partially home.  The bottom line is he felt a sense of accomplishment and independence.  That is the kind of summer enrichment I’m looking for.

Summer, for me, is a time to catch up on things – some tasks around the house, a few books I’ve been meaning to get to and visiting friends I don’t often get to spend time with during the school year.  How about you?

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Filed under Boys, Education, SEEN, soccer, Summer, vacation

World Cup mayhem!

photo(171)How was your Sunday?  Mine was wonderfully insane, thank you very much.  Why, you ask? Well, I spent my day selling mugs and beer tokens down at Wolff’s Biergarten, which may not sound very fun to those of you who aren’t into crowds or soccer, but it was right up my alley.  There were hundreds (thousand+?) of folks sporting red, white and blue looking to have a great time on a gorgeous day.  What could be bad about that?

While the match may not have ended soon enough for team USA to walk away with a win rather than a tie, it was still a fantastic day.  I’ll be working a number of additional shifts in the next few weeks and hope you all make it down to take in a match and indulge in some tasty beer and a scene unlike you’ll find anywhere for this event.

photo(172)For the uninitiated, here’s how it works:  for $20 bucks you get a 1 liter plastic stein and 2 beer tokens.  The tokens are good for .5 liters of beer so you can fill your mug fully once or halfway twice, your call.  Personally, I’d go with the halfway twice because I like my beer cold and I like to wander between the Biergarten and the Bier Tent.  Since taking beer from one location to the other isn’t permitted, you’d probably want to enjoy a beer in both places to catch the full scope of fandom.  Need more beer?  Additional tokens are $7 each or 3 for $20 and the tokens don’t expire.  Speaking of not expiring – your stein will get you entry into any and all subsequent games so make sure you hold on to it.  Bring it with you for any matches during the World Cup and you get in without any additional charge.

So, there you have it.  Soccer, bier, peanuts.  Come get some.

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Filed under Albany, beer, Events, Local, Recommendations, soccer, Summer, sunday

Soccer Mom Rebellion

image:juggernaut.com

Do you remember that movie Kicking and Screaming?  I think I lost the dvd in the divorce, but remember it as being about a kids’ soccer team and it was cutely funny.  Well, let me tell you something, being a soccer mom isn’t remotely amusing. Practice three days a week and double-header games that begin at 7:50 on Saturday night are not cutely funny to me at all.  As a matter of fact, they’re really annoying and inconvenient. Why are 13 year-olds beginning games at 9:20 pm?  Is the dome in Latham that heavily scheduled, and if so, shouldn’t some thought be given to building another one in addition to the two already in use?

I understand that team sports are a positive influence in my (any) child’s life, but I guess I’m a little new to the game.  I was pretty active as a kid, yet I don’t recall playing on any teams outside of school other than a softball team when I was a teenager – and I walked the 2+ miles to practice and games.  Uphill, both ways, naturally.  I don’t use my own mother as a yardstick for appropriate parental involvement, but don’t recall her ever coming to one of my games – or my even anticipating seeing her sitting in the bleachers. It just wasn’t expected.

These days, as Griffin follows a 90 minute morning practice with 3 consecutive afternoon/evening games kicking off at 4:40, I wonder how parents with multiple children with multiple activities do it.  Do they drive minivans because they actually sleep in them?  Is it that the parents have completely yielded their lives to managing their children’s lives?  I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in doing that.  Call me selfish if you will, but 5 hours of soccer leaves me wanting to do a little kicking and screaming of my own.   Where are my cleats?

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Filed under Boys, Exercise, family, moms, Rants, soccer

Living La Vida Local

A typical autumn Saturday…

Albany Youth Soccer – Team Metroland

A cold morning moderated by sunshine and running around a field.

He got a piece of it!

Then it was off to All Good Bakers…

…for a couple of tasty baguettes to accompany the fantastic cheese I selected from my new neighbor, The Cheese Traveler.  I went with a raw cow’s milk washed rind (washed with beer!) cheese from Vermont called Inspiration.  Why not, right?

So many choices – make sure you have some time for tasting and talking!

Maybe next time I’ll pick up some high quality beef or pork…

Legs in photo not included.

And I am thrilled to know that there are some gourmet sundries available a 2 minute walk away!

Maldon sea salt! Balsamic vinegar! Produce to come soon.

Then it was down to Chatham for a house party hosted by one of the brewers from Chatham Brewing

Did you know they are expanding operations? Lucky us!

I went with the Oktoberfest – delicious!

How fortunate we Capital District Region residents are to be able to expose our children to organized activities like AYSO, eat foods thoughtfully prepared and selected and swill quality beer made locally?  There’s nothing loco about local!  Go get some.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, drinking, family, favorites, Food, friends, Local, Recommendations, soccer, upstate New York

Soccer and Serenity Now

Although I wouldn’t admit it to just anyone, I don’t mind sharing with you that I’m a soccer mom.  Albeit a reluctant one.  My inability to completely embrace this persona probably is the result of a few factors, things like I don’t drive a minivan.  Or 100% understand the rules of the game or the various positions on the field.  And, maybe, just maybe, I get a little resentful of the demands on my life as I try to manage the practice and game commitments of two players essentially by myself due to my husband’s work schedule.  But, the little guy loves it and my middle guy craves a competitive outlet and I find soccer to be a more appealing option than some of the other past times with which he would find himself involved.  As I often remind him kiddingly, it’s what keeps him out of juvie.  
Fall season is barely underway and already it’s time to try out for indoor travel soccer.  That’s the way this sport is – there are opportunities to play essentially year round.  Now, the outdoor season has definite advantages over the winter season.  Aside from the fact that the evening practices occur when it is still light out, I really prefer being outside in the fresh air rather than in a stuffy school gym or under an Afrim’s bubble.  Last week’s game allowed me an opportunity to sit in the grass for an hour or so and enjoy being outdoors.  Something kind of weird happened, though.  As I alternated my attention between the book I was reading and the clump of 5 year-olds clustered around the ball with feet flying, I became conscious of a voice requesting “Serenity.”  Of course, I interpreted this almost-chant as some sort of new-age exercise in personal centering, a la Seinfeld, but somehow the tone was all wrong – too impatient, not beckoning enough to achieve the desired state.  But then I realized that Serenity was not in fact a personal aspiration for the speaker, but was instead the name of her child – the child she was dealing with in a decidedly unserene fashion. 
I try to not measure my successes and failures as a person, and/or parent, by any yardstick other than my own, but when I witness that type of irony, it is difficult to resist.  And when I received a beautiful candle this week as a birthday present, a candle who’s scent was called Serenity, I thought of this other struggling mom and wished there were  a way for me share my gift of serenity with her.  Because we’re all ultimately on the same team, aren’t we?

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Filed under moms, musings, soccer