Good Things Come to Those Who Wait..and Play by the Rules

There is a compendium of unwritten mandates in baseball that fall under the umbrella of things you just don’t do. The majority of them serve to prevent baseball moms from embarrassing their sons and themselves… but mostly their sons… in public. You can learn more about them here. Others provide a code of conduct aimed at maintaining harmony within the baseball mom community. They prohibit stuff like gossiping about other people’s kids, negative cheering, brown-nosing coaches and perhaps most importantly, punching  other baseball moms in the head no matter how annoying they may be.

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 10.05.11 AMThe need for rules governing laundry room etiquette may seem odd if you’re a soccer mom or a basketball mom or a swimming mom or any other sort of mom, but if you’re a baseball mom you know restoring your son’s uniform to its pristine, pre-game condition is serious business. If you’re a baseball mom you should also know unless AND ONLY UNLESS you are the mom designated to wash uniforms for your entire team on a road trip, you must NEVER monopolize the hotel guest laundry facility by doing consecutive, multiple loads of laundry when people are waiting to use the washing machines. Period. It’s the one-load-only-when-there-is-a-line-for-the-hotel-washing-machine rule (henceforth know as the one-load-only rule). It may be unwritten, but it’s still a rule and should never be violated. Just don’t do it.

The one-load-only rule is rooted in simple common sense, fundamental good manners and good old-fashioned consideration for others, but you’d be surprised at the number of women parading around as “baseball moms” who feign obliviousness to the one-load-only rule. These women should not be allowed to call themselves baseball moms. If it were up to me I’d ban them from baseball (or at least from hotel laundry rooms) for life.

I do not care if you are traveling with your entire family including two teenaged daughters, each of whom changes clothes three times daily and a grandpa who soiled his trousers when Junior was proclaimed safe on a close play at the plate. I don’t care what your whiny excuse is. It is non-negotiable. It’s rude and inconsiderate and I shouldn’t even need to write about it, but I’ll say it again. You never violate the one-load-only rule. JUST DON’T DO IT.

This actually happened a couple of nights ago in the baseball mecca of Ft. Myers, Florida. A woman from New Jersey (let’s call her Garden State mom) violated the one-load-only rule when she tied up the only two washers and dryers available in the Homewood Suites for more than four hours. I’m not kidding. This was a particularly egregious violation because 1) the majority of her soiled laundry was non-baseball and 2) the line for the machines snaked out the laundry room door, about thirty feet down the hall into the lobby. As Garden State mom started transferring her first two loads from the washers to the dryers, it became obvious to all of us waiting that only a fraction of her laundry was dirty baseball stuff.

One rule-savvy baseball mom from Texas (Lone Star State mom) called her out on it, but Garden State mom played ignorant, “I’m heeeyah with my entiyah family and they were at the beach awll day. Whaddya expect me to do widdit? Take it awll home dirty?” A couple of South Carolina (Palmetto State) baseball moms waiting in the hall poked their heads in the door and chimed in with a few snarky comments of their own.

I thought (hoped) a riot might ensue, something tantamount to a bench clearing brawl that would allow me to act on my exceedingly strong urge to punch Garden State mom squarely in the head. Luckily, the words just don’t do it popped into my brain at the exact moment that I stood up to cock my fist in her direction. Given my normal peace-loving nature, I found the whole thing very unsettling and briefly considered retreating to the safe haven of my room in order to save myself from doing something that would require my husband to post bail on my behalf.

The thing is, I still had a filthy baseball uniform that needed my tender loving care and like most self-respecting baseball moms, I take my laundry responsibility very seriously. It occurred to me, good things come to those who wait so I waited. I suppressed the urge to pummel Garden State mom and I waited…and waited… all the while quietly repeating the baseball mom’s mantra  just don’t do it just don’t do it just don’t do it until it was my turn.

The next day we arrived at the field and wouldn’t you know it. My son’s team was playing the New Jersey (a.k.a Garden State) Tigers. We won 15 to 0 in three innings by a mercy rule. I scanned the bleachers for Garden State mom because I sort of wanted to gloat, but I didn’t see her, plus I thought just don’t do it and that’s when it occurred to me. Good things come to those who wait… and play by the rules.

 

© Copyright 2014 Just Another Ordinary Day by Antoinette D. Datoc All Rights Reserved

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Are You Smarter Than an iPhone Revisited

Originally published july 14, 2011.I know I said I’d never do it, but I did it. I finally did it. I bought a smart phone. It’s not what you think. I haven’t compromised my integrity. My smart phone boycott was not grounded in ethics or principles or politics or anything like that. Droids, iPhones, Blackberries, all of them make me nervous. Appliances are not supposed to be smarter than human beings. They’re just not. Frankly, the idea that a phone might be smarter than me is downright frightening.

Phones and fifth graders are not the only things getting smarter nowadays. Washing machines are smarter, too. They sense when items of different weights and textures are combined into the same load (for example towels with t-shirts or blue jeans with boxers and panties). When this happens they become unbalanced as they agitate, or perhaps it’s that they become agitated at being unbalanced. In any case, this is ostensibly what caused my friend’s brand new state-of-the-art front loader to “dance” across the laundry room during the spin cycle.

She called a “certified” repairman who balanced the thing and gave her his “certified” opinion: if she didn’t want it to happen again she’d better update her clothes sorting technique. It’s not just about whites and colors anymore. Like items with like items. I am not kidding. Certified? Sounds more certifiable, if you ask me.

If that were my washing machine, you know what I would say? I’d say, “Okay, Mr. Washing Machine, if you’re smart enough to know the difference between a pair of socks and a pair of blue jeans, you’re darn well smart enough to figure out how to keep your balance, thank you very much. Who’s the smart one now?  Yeah, I’m talking to you, big guy.’’

My toaster thinks it’s smarter than me, but it’s not. It’s one of those four slice jobs, with slots designated for specific food items. One slot is for bagels, one is for frozen bagels, one slot is for toast, and one is for frozen toast. What happens if you want an English muffin? Or a waffle? What then?  I’ll tell you what. You find yourself another toaster, that’s what.

That fancy schmancy Mensa toaster is not made for English muffins or waffles, and do you want to know how I know? They burn. Yep, they do. Drop an English muffin or a waffle into a slot designated for toast or bagels, frozen or thawed, and it’ll burn every time. Don’t even get me started on Hot Pockets

And another thing. That toaster is plotting something. It stares at me when it thinks I’m not looking and I am sick of it. I unplugged that thing and stuffed it in a cupboard. Take that, Mr. Smarty-Pants Toaster with your specialized four slots. Ha! Not so smart anymore, are ya?

I never felt my iPhone-free life was incomplete until I heard about RunPee. RunPee is the app“dedicated to analyzing movies and working out the precise minute for you to annoy the other 12 people in your row, scuttle off to the restroom, release your lager, and return without missing any significant part of the plot.”

Shut up! That is GENIOUS!

All sorts of thoughts popped into my head when I first heard about RunPee. Things like, What will they think of next? and Why didn’t I think of that? But, Hmmm…if I had an iPhone, I’d buy RunPee in a heartbeat, is the last thought I recall pulsating through my brain before I woke up to find myself exiting the Verizon store with a bag in one hand and a two-year wireless contract (complete with data package) in the other. That, my friends, is how I ended up trading my simple little Samsung flip for the summa cum laude of all smart phones (drumroll, please)…the iPhone 4.

I’m pretty confident that I come out on top when I match wits with my washing machine and my toaster. The thing is, I’m afraid I must concede that my iPhone is indeed cleverer than I. Go ahead and laugh, but tell me this. When was the last time you excused yourself to visit the bathroom during a movie and upon returning to your seat, did not need to whisper to the your viewing companion, “What did I miss?’’

I know I said I’d never do it, but I did it. I finally did it. I bought an iPhone. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to RunPee.

Updated note: According to Dan Florio, the self-proclaimed Grandpoobah of RunPee – a.k.a. creator – RunPee has temporarily been removed from the iPhone app marketplace and is expected to be available again in early July. Until then, visit m.runpee.com from your iPhone browser. You may sign up to receive email notification when RunPee is available at RunPee.com.

 Copyright © 2011 by Antoinette Datoc  All Rights Reserved

Baseball Mom Off the Record: To Scrub or Not to Scrub

I am a veteran baseball mother of two.  As such, I have logged thousands of miles schlepping one son or the other to and from various training sessions, practices and games.  I’ve made countless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for consumption between double headers. And I have soaked, scrubbed, machine laundered and even boiled more filthy baseball uniforms than I care to remember.  A baseball mom dedicates herself to getting her sons’ uniforms clean.  Some moms soak.  Some scrub.  The protocol and the products vary, but one thing is certain.  Baseball moms in Georgia are far more dedicated to the process than the average Jane.  Ask any baseball mom visiting from out of state.  The answer is always the same. ”I pre-treat the stains and throw everything in the wash with detergent and color safe bleach.”   Yeah.  Okay.  In my dreams it’s that easy.

It’s not that Georgia boys get dirtier than boys from other places because they dive for more balls, reach or steal more bases.  It’s not because they play the game harder.  It’s because they play the game on Georgia red clay.  Red clay stains are insidious and that’s why getting a Georgia baseball player’s uniform clean is a Herculean task.  It comes with the territory.

Oh, how I long for the day when a spritz of Spray ‘n Wash and a cap-full of Tide tossed in my front loader would do the trick, but it doesn’t do the trick and it never will.  It’s why, whenever you find two or more Georgia baseball moms gathered in conversation, the topic is… to scrub or not to scrub.  We discuss it in the bleachers, in line at the concession stands, and on the Northwest Georgia Baseball website under a forum created especially for baseball moms called Pants.  See for yourself if you don’t believe me.

Once upon a time, I walked into the kitchen of a friend, a fellow baseball mom.  She was standing at the stove, stirring a large pot of something.  It turned out she was boiling her son’s dirty baseball pants in a concoction of vinegar and lemon juice, an effort aimed at avoiding scrubbing.  I have no idea what compelled her to try it.  Although I never found scrubbing that contemptible, I immediately went home to try it myself.  The blue piping down the legs melted.  I ended up dropping $80 on a second set of baseball pants and devoted myself to finding a better way.

First I conducted a survey among baseball moms across the Peach State (and even included a few from Tennessee and Alabama).  They shared their secrets, successes and failures.  I compiled a list of products and methods, and I tested each and every one of them myself.  Following are the top three ranked by:

  • popularity;
  • effectiveness;  and
  • amount of scrubbing needed to achieve the desired result.

#1 IRON OUT is the overwhelming favorite among baseball moms because it completely eradicates red clay stains with little to no elbow grease.  It “chemically changes rust and iron into a clear, soluble state that easily rinses away without scrubbing” (http://www.summitbrands.com/summit/our_brands/rust_removal/super_iron_out/#faq).

To use Iron Out safely and effectively, a three-step process is recommended.

  1. Dissolve about ¼ cup of Iron Out powder in a bucket of water and soak stained garment overnight or for several hours.
  2. Rinse thoroughly with cold water.
  3. Machine wash with detergent only.

Iron Out is caustic to clothes and washing machine parts, and should not be combined with bleach or peroxide.  Be warned: this product is highly corrosive.  Prolonged use damages and impairs the function of snaps and zippers found on baseball pants.  It removes dye from appliqués and embroidered items as well as colorfast fabrics.  It is recommended for use only on solid white pants.  It is not safe for use on jerseys, caps, or pants with piping.  It emits a foul stench…really foul, as in car-ride-home-after-a-trip-to-Willy’s-for-bean-burritos foul.

#2 FELS-NAPTHA has been around for over 100 years so chances are, you’ve witnessed your grandmother using it.  It’s a bar soap that is found in the laundry section of most grocery stores.  To use Fels-Naptha safely and effectively, one of the following two-step processes is recommended.

  1. Dampen the bar and rub it directly onto the stained areas of the garment working up a good lather.
  2. No rinsing necessary.  Machine wash.  Bleach if desired.

     You also may grate the entire bar of Fels-Naptha and store it in an airtight container.

  1. Mix one tablespoon of the grated soap with a small amount of hot water to form a paste.  Spread the paste on the stained areas and use a soft bristle brush to scrub.
  2. No rinsing necessary.  Machine wash.  Bleach if desired.

Red clay stains were non-existent after both methods, but required a fair amount of scrubbing.  Fels-Naptha is a pleasant-smelling, pure soap.  It can be used with bleach and other detergents.  Fels-Naptha may be in the two spot overall, but it hits a homerun in my book.

#3 WHINK places third because although it’s a dedicated rust stain remover, visible red clay stains remained after the recommended three-step process.

  1. Dampen garment and apply liquid Whink directly onto stains.
  2. When stains fade (this can take up to several hours), rinse thoroughly with cold water.
  3. Machine wash with detergent only.

Whink should not be combined with other cleaning agents.  A skull and crossbones, the universal symbol for POISON, is on the label.  This makes me nervous.  Plus if I’m going to risk my life using a product, it darn well ought to render pants that come out of the washing machine looking like they’ve never been worn.

I also tested Murphy’s Oil Soap, Cascade, Simple Green, S-32, Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner (for rust and minerals), Oxyclean Max Force, and Borax, but none came close to achieving the desired results and did not warrant a spot in the rankings.  There’s one method I didn’t test, but it’s so intriguing, it bears mentioning.

One desperate baseball mom told me she drove her son’s uniform to a do-it-yourself car wash.  She spread it on the ground and using the coin operated pressure washer, attempted to blast the red clay stains from her son’s pants and jerseys.  A little dramatic?  Maybe.  But we have reputations to uphold.

I know what you’re thinking.  Why go to such extremes when they’re just going to get dirty again?  True, but any self-respecting baseball mom will tell you a clean, unblemished uniform is worth ten points to a batting average and two miles per hour on a fastball.  Baseball moms dedicate themselves to making dreams come true…one pair of pants at a time.

©  2011 by Antoinette D. Datoc

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

It’s 5 o’clock in the morning.  I’ve been awake since 3, but forced myself to stay in bed until now.  I slept a little fitfully.  My Uncookie Swap is today and I have some last-minute things to do, finishing touches, in order to get ready.  I suppose I’m excited.  I’m almost, but not quite as, excited as I get on Christmas morning.  You know as a kid when you’re certain you’ve heard Santa’s sleigh bells and reindeer hooves pawing on the rooftop above your bedroom?  You rush, with no concept of time, into your parents’ bedroom asking if you can go downstairs and  open gifts yet and they answer sleepily because it’s something like 2 a.m, “Not yet.  Ge back to bed.  We’ll tell you when it’s time.”  Promise not to tell, but I’m 48 years old and I still get excited enough to do that kind of thing.   Since I’m married with children of my own, instead of rushing into my parents’ room which would require a car ride, all I have to do is nudge Pat and whisper loudly with my morning breath, “Is it time to wake up the kids and open gifts yet?”  I’ve been doing that for 25 years.  Last year I circumvented Pat and ran straight down the hall into the kids’ rooms when I woke up.  It must have been pretty early because I was in that morning stupor where you can’t decide if you’re really doing something or if you’re dreaming.  “Mom, please…”  is what they both growled  sleepily at me,” Not yet.  Go back to bed.  We’ll tell you when it’s time.”  I’m pretty sure I wasn’t dreaming, but the kids don’t remember it happening, so I can’t be sure.  Plus, we opened gifts before going to bed on Christmas Eve last year so I have no idea why this memory is so vivid in my  mind’s eye, but it is.  Maybe we left our stockings for Christmas morning?  I hate it that I can’t remember details.  I need to start writing things down.

Three things on my To Do list involve a quick stop at the grocery store.  The store opens at 7 so I can’t do that yet.  I also need to vacuum the kitchen and family room, empty the dish washer and throw a load of towels in the washing machine.  All of those chores involve creating a fair amount of noise which is not a prudent thing to do.  I could go jump on the treadmill.  That wouldn’t disturb anybody, but it does involve putting on running shoes.  Frankly, it’s cold and  I just can’t  bring myself to slip my tootsies out of the warm, sherpa-lined slippers I’m currently  sporting.

Oh my gosh!  I just glanced at the clock at the top of my computer screen and it’s already 6:10 a.m.  My goodness, did it really take me an hour and ten minutes to write two paragraphs?  I suppose not.  I suppose  I got lost in reminiscing about Christmases past.  Ten days from today Jared will be done with exams and starting a two-week holiday.  Christian will be home from college in a week and it will be nearly a month before he returns to Greenville.  My emotions are mixed.  You see on one hand, I simply cannot wait!  Yet on the other, I can hardly believe another year has slipped through my fingers.  Slow down, I say to passing time.  Slow down!   Charles Dickens’ ghost of Christmas Yet to Come did not pay me a visit this morning so I have no way of forecasting what the future will bring.  I can only hope that as the years and Christmases come and go they  will continue to leave me with the precious gift of memories that put a smile on this face of mine.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a…  Good night.  Sleep tight.

E-I-E-I-O

When my kids were little, we played all sorts of made up games, most of which involved my singing.  We played one that the boys called, “I Know an Old Lady.”  If it sounds vaguely familiar it’s because everyone knows the folk song I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary (written and composed by Rose Bonne and Alan Mills).  Anyway, our game evolved out of my singing that song to Christian and Jared.  We’d get in the car to go somewhere and one or both of them would shout, “Let’s play I Know an Old Lady, mom!”  So I would start with the first verse.

“I know an old lady who swallowed a fly.  I don’t know why she swallowed a fly.  Perhaps she’ll die.”

Next, one of the boys would shout out something for the old lady to swallow.  For example, Christian might shout, “I know an old lady who swallowed a book!”  I’d echo his verse and add the rhyme.

“I know an old lady who swallowed a book.  She swallowed a book ’cause she was too tired to cook.  Perhaps she’ll die.”  Then, of course, both boys would erupt in laughter.

This back and forth could go on endlessly, with the boys trying to stump me by shouting out bizarre, hard-to-rhyme objects for the lady to swallow, followed by my attempts at composing a verse that both rhymed and made sense.  One of my all time favorites was, “I know an old lady who swallowed the TV remote.  She swallowed the remote and changed channels in her throat.  Perhaps she’ll die.”

Another game we played evolved from the children’s song. Old MacDonald Had a Farm. We sang our version like this.

“Farmer Datoc had a farm.  E-I-E-I-O.  And on his farm he had a (name of family member).  E-I-E-I-O.  With a…” Here’s where the fun started.  Instead of an animal sound, like in the real song, we’d plug in something about the family member.  For example, for Pat, we’d shout out x-ray.

“Farmer Datoc had a farm.  E-I-E-I-O.  And on his farm he had a DADDY!  E-I-E-I-O.  With an x-ray here, and an x-ray there, here an x-ray, there an x-ray, everywhere an x-ray, x-ray.  Farmer Datoc had a farm.  E-I-E-I-O.”

By the way, for those of you wondering about all the x-rays, my husband is not accident prone.  He is a radiologist.  Get it now?  We might plug in something golf related, or  “GO REDSKINS,” for Pat also.  For the kids we’d plug in homework, baseball, Harry Potter, Legos, etc.  Everybody in the family including aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins dogs, EVERYBODY had a variety of things sung about them.  Everybody, that is, except for ME.  Without fail, whenever we played this game and it was my turn, Christian and Jared would sing the same thing about me.  ALWAYS.  I swear.

“Farmer Datoc had a farm.  E-I-E-I-O.  And on his farm he had a MOMMY!  E-I-E-I-O.  With laundry here, and laundry there, here laundry, there laundry, everywhere laundry, laundry.  Farmer Datoc had a farm.  E-I-E-I-O.”

So it came as no surprise to me when Christian showed up at home on Tuesday night before Thanksgiving with four trash bags and a laundry hamper stuffed full of dirty laundry.  Apparently he hadn’t done laundry for close to a month.  For those of you who are not parents of college students, be advised there is something putrid smelling about college student laundry that doesn’t happen when they are living at home.  I’m not sure how or why it happens, but HAVE NO FEAR, my college boy!   No one, I MEAN NO ONE can do laundry like your mama!

When I’m tackling one of those super sized, my-kid-just-came-home-from-college-with-more-dirty-clothes-than-I’ve-ever-seen-in-one-place-outside-of-a-commercial-laundromat jobs, I stick to a rigid protocol.  I’m very good at adhering to rigid protocol, especially if I think it will make my life easier down the road.  First comes what I like to call the primary sorting.  You know, separating everything into the five primary laundry loads:  towels, sheets, darks, lights, and whites.  Everyone does this right?  Next come the subsequent levels of sub-sorting which is the process of organizing the main loads into smaller loads by clothing type.   Let’s take Christian’s darks as an example.  I sub-sorted the main dark load into two smaller secondary loads classified as dark tops and dark bottoms.  These smaller loads were sub-sorted again into tertiary loads.  The dark tops were sub-sorted into the tertiary loads of dark t-shirts, dark collared shirts, dark sweaters, dark sweatshirts, and dark workout shirts.  The dark bottoms were sub-sorted into the tertiary loads of dark jeans, dark twill pants, dark athletic shorts, dark sweat pants, dark underwear, and dark socks.  The process of sub-sorting continues (quaternary, quinary, senary, septenary, etc.) until the loads are small enough to fit into the washing machine.  Once, sub-sorting is complete, stubborn stains are pre-treated and scrubbed and finally loads are sent through the washing machine and dryer, folded and stored (or packed in the case of college students) away.

Maybe you think it sounds like I’m a little compulsive, but I’ll tell you what.  I like order.  The principles that govern the way I do laundry are fundamentally the same as those principles that compel my behavior at the grocery store check out counter.  In the same way I like to place my groceries on the conveyor belt in the order in which I will eventually unpack them from the bags and put them away at home, I like to sort my laundry in such a way as to make folding and putting it away as easy as possible.  You know the old saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.   I can’t really explain it, but it sort of makes sense.  You know what I mean.

By the time I finished with Christian’s laundry, I had systematically sorted, stain treated, washed (in eco-friendly, phosphate-free, detergent, mind you), sent through the dryer, folded and helped Christian repack 13 loads of laundry.  It was poetry in motion.  I’m not ashamed to tell you that for the better part of two days there was laundry here and laundry there, here laundry, there laundry, everywhere laundry, laundry, but it was worth it.  Dirty laundry that I could barely bring myself to touch was once again clean and fresh.  Amazing. All I can say is  E-I-E-I-O.

TIll tomorrow…Good night.  Sleep tight.