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Saturday, January 11, 2014

WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE’S NO “OFF SEASON”?

Every year, as the Northeast grumbles its way from the glory of Autumn to the drudgery of Winter, Mrs. Lo secretly rejoices.  Winter may bring on darkness, bitter cold, and the national disaster known as the “2-Hour Delay,” but it also brings on another chapter, at least for me:  the Off Season. 

In Spring, we have the High Holy sprint season for crew.  This is followed by the langorous days of Summer Camp at Newburgh Rowing and summer rowing.  Soon to follow is Football camp, which starts in July, then comes the crazy time.  Fall means Head Season for rowing (longer races), Fall Regattas, and Football Season.  Translation:  7 days a week of sports, plus travelling.  Not to mention all that goes on behind the scenes at Newburgh Rowing to make all this, and the Student Ambassador program, happen.  Thus it is,  that while some of my friends and loved ones grumble about winter, I look at it as blissful relief.  It has traditionally been my “Off Season”.
            During my Off Season, I hibernate.   Yes, there are still winter rowing practices but, with carpooling, that’s a light commitment on my part.  Winter is the time when I catch up on everything.  My reading, my scrapbooking and photo albums, and of course, my cooking.  I spend the Winter weekends curled up with my family reading, playing board games, and cooking.  I may make 8 – 12 trays of food per weekend, from lasagna, to meatballs, to chicken parm, to put in the deep freezer.  I store up for the days ahead when I have little or no time to cook.  We dust off the board games and have marathon sessions of Parchessi, Scrabble, and Trivial Pursuits, among others.   Last year, I even started canning blueberries, just as I had seen my grandmother do decades ago.  I had big plans to cook, freeze and can this Winter.
            Then, last summer, Michael joined the Newburgh Rowing Club.  Which has been wonderful, we both have indoor rowing on Tuesdays and Thursdays this winter.  And while we were in Disney, Christian said he’d like to join the Bishop Dunn basketball team when we get back.  There were only two practices a week and the games were all relatively local.  Sounded easy enough.  Then I remembered, we had signed him and Anthony and Kelvin up for Indoor Soccer in New Windsor, a friendly Friday night kickabout.  And Michael has Irish Dancing after school two days a week.  And Michael’s swimming on Saturdays.  And the Student Ambassador Learn to Swim Clinic on Mondays.  Oh, and I work out with a personal trainer two days a week.
            As I was furiously making Chicken Parm at 10 pm on a Thursday night, intended for after the basketball games the following weekend, it hit me:  I don’t have an Off Season this year.  The freezer will be stocked a little bit, but not like last year, when I went into crew season with 60 trays of food already frozen.   Nor will there be any canning this Winter (that was probably a pipe dream anyway).  There will, however, be lots of high fiving and cheering.  There will be tables full of rowers and basketball players after school and after games, carbloading on Lasagna and Ziti.  There will be lots of food, lots of laughs, lots of hugs, lots of Love. 
            And then one day, a very long time from now, there will be quiet.  Because the kids will be in college.  And there will be plenty of time to cook and bake and can.  To read and garden.  And then, to coin the Trace Adkins song, we’re going to miss this.  We’re going to want this back.  We’re going to wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast.   And to quote the song directly:
“These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this”

          A year ago yesterday, I lost one of my dearest friends and longtime paralegal, Debbie.  Her death was sudden, and the final act of removing her from the machines took place right in front of me.  She was only a few years older than I am.  She had kids much younger in life, so she had children and grandchildren, who she adored.  The day Debbi died, Anthony and I were physically and mentally drained.  We went to dinner at the River Grill, and then I came home, got under the electric blanket and read all afternoon and all night.  Relaxing is important but I don’t need an entire season off.
          Nor am I going to get an off season.  But that’s just fine.  Instead, God has seen fit to give me a Life.  A Life filled with family, friends, Love, and blessings.  And I do mean Blessings.  Just when I thought I couldn’t go on without some type of break, we got a phone call from the Disney Vacation Club.  I had miscalculated the points they had gifted us for free.  Basically, we were entitled to a free vacation.  Just enough the two of us to take a long weekend at the Disney Vacation Club’s Vero Beach Resort in Florida.  I checked my frequent flier miles.  More than enough for free airfare there and back.  And so, just in the moment I was counting all my blessings, rather than complaining, God gave me just what I needed:  a free mini-vacation in the sun and the sand with my husband right in the middle of the Winter.
          In the moment you decide not only to “roll with it” but to be thankful for it all, you may just be pleasantly surprised.  Basketball, Indoor Rowing, Swimming, Irish Dance, Indoor Soccer, and the Learn to Swim Clinic for the Student Ambassadors are a welcome part of my Winter.  I wouldn’t trade any one of them.  And to think, I have friends who complain there is nothing to do in the Winter, the poor dears! 
          Have a great day, everyone, and as always, remember to Count Your Blessings!  <3  Mrs. Lo www.LoBiondo.org (Photo of Christian accepting the OCPSLeague Varsity Scholar Athlete Award for Bishop Dunn Memorial School)
NOTE:  the above Blog is from last year.  For the record, we have yet to experience an off season.  After basketball, Christian went to freshman football (yes, football starts in July).  From there, we proceeded to winter track.  And then directly to Spring crew, which is where we now find ourselves.  I am so looking forward to an off-season.  Someday!