Tag Archives: Lewis Ball

Double Your FUN

man and wife

I now pronounce you man and wife.

In early June our youngest, Lewis, and his lovely Hilarey begin their official life as a couple together. It is a garden wedding in her parents back yard, perfect in every way. But as all, and I’m pretty sure all is accepted here, weddings go there are a few odd turns along the preparation way.

Hilarey’s mom, Valerie, and I made our own fun mark on that odd turn road and here’s the story. I love to shop online and order some dresses for the event that over and over turn out to be all wrong. I am constantly returning dresses and time is ticking away. I finally find a couple that fit and look good, but they’re nothing special. Still I want to be an accessory, it’s Hilarey and Valerie’s day. So either of these dresses will work. I send photos to Val. She sends photos of a couple of cute dresses she has found locally that she and Hilarey like but she is not entirely sold on either. We decide that we should try on each other’s stash and maybe out of the mix find a couple that work.

Somewhere in the thread of our message exchanges we come up with the idea of wearing the same dress. On purpose. It will be fun. And because the bride has enough things to think about we decide not to bother her with the plan. It’s our secret. I like one of Val’s dresses better than mine and on the way back into town from a road trip stop and buy one for me.

We could have wore this sassy number from Foxy Flamingo. Just a tiny bit too casual for mother of the groom and mother of the bride so we passed.

We could have wore this sassy number from Foxy Flamingo. Just a tiny bit too casual for mother of the groom and mother of the bride so we pass on it.

At home I put it on for Donny and he says he likes it but it’s too big. Val and I decide to meet at the shop, Foxy Flamingo, in hopes that they will have a smaller size. If not we’ll try on some others which is what ends up happening. We swear the shop girls to secret. We are constantly looking over our shoulder for Hilarey to pop into Front Porch next door for coffee and possibly discover us shopping in cahoots. As a precaution we park out of the way so if she does happen along she won’t see our vehicles. Miss Betsy has lots of cute dresses but none are right. It will be tricky but I can alter the too big dress and so we keep what we have and move on.

We are willing to try one more shop before giving up. We just have time. Val has carved out a few hours between her store, My Little Sunshine, schedule and a spinning class that she teaches at the Y. We head to the French Door conveniently located just across the highway from the Y. We tell the shop gals we’re on a mission and explain. They start showing us dresses but none fit our need. We’re about to give up when friend and shop owner, Donna Greenlee, has a thought. She heads upstairs where merchandise is stored and returns with two options. One we dismiss immediately. The other has potential. We head into our respective dressing rooms and emerge grinning. It’s perfect. And has pockets, bonus!

matching dresses

The bride sandwiched between her two moms.

Now we need accessories. We need to look completely planned. There are endless stories about showing up at a wedding in the same dress unplanned. My favorite is from a good friend, Jan Watson. She and her husband arrive just as the wedding they are attending at St Andrew’s By-the-Sea chapel in Nags Head is starting. She sees that she is wearing the exact same dress as the mother of the bride. Her husband asks her now what. She says now they are going home so that she can change as she steers him hastily toward the car before anyone can make the connection.

Donna fixes us up with earrings. We select some simple bracelets including a find your balance Lokai. Val buys a Lokai for Hilarey. We are set. All we need now are shoes. We save that for another day. Val is off to spinning. A few days pass in both our busy schedules. I need to finish up this project. Family is coming in early for the wedding and of course Val will have her own last week to do list. I decide to see what Sound Feet has and advise Val. I find the perfect shoe and they have it in my size. It’s a Toms wedge style, just like Hilarey has chosen for her wedding shoes. Disappointedly it is not available in Val’s size, even in their other stores. I leave, get to my car and decide to go back and look again. Maybe Sound Feet has our sizes in another Toms wedge style option. It won’t be our favorite but we’ll match. My sale guy is busy with another customer. I look over the selection, ponder a few options and leave again. I’m just about to start the car when I decide to go back in one more time. There just has to be something for us. I start sending Val photos of what is in stock.

lokai arm wrestling

Grandma Lydia & Hilarey don’t need any Lokai bracelet balance in this face off.

It’s a complicated thread we are trying to negotiate between me sending photo suggestions and her trying to text me around her customer needs. We opt for a real call. I am chatting with her when Lewis and Hilarey walk into the store and saunter over to say hi and see what I am doing. I am surrounded by a selection of Toms shoes and also talking on the phone to Val. I pretend she’s Donny. “Bye honey. I’ll bring you some lunch. I love you.” I tell L&H that I am considering shoes to go with another dress I have shown Hilarey. The clerk who is helping me is trying to tell me about a pair in another store he can have sent over and asks if I want Valerie’s name put on them. L&H are distracted and don’t hear. I nod and shoo him away. They are here shopping for wedding shoes for Lewis and head to the mens’ section. Bean spill averted.

I leave with no shoes but Sound Feet is holding several pairs and importing others from their branch stores. Val and I agree to meet there in a couple of days when all the Toms choices are in to make our final decision. I am a bit late for that date. The sales lady is already helping Val try on the shoes. She dismisses me with a wave of her hand saying that she is helping Val. We finally get her straight that we are together. Val decides that she needs a smaller size than she thought and the now very helpful sales lady finds our favorite shoe in Val’s size in a branch store. I buy mine. Val will get hers when they come in. We are done. Well almost.

we four

The rents

Val is days late picking up her shoes. When she does get there, our new friend has guarded Val’s shoes like a hawk. She would not let anyone put them back in stock. She knows our story and is beyond confident that Val will be in to buy the shoes. Of course she is right.

We ponder how to tell Hilarey what we have been doing. Just showing up wedding day is not the answer. We briefly chat about starting out wearing our decoy dresses and then changing but too much will be going on for that to go well. With strong encouragement from Donny we decide to tell Hilarey a few days prior to the wedding. But pinning her down is tricky. She’s busier than we are. I text Lewis and tell him that we need five minutes of Hilarey’s time. Nothing is wrong, we just need five undivided minutes. They are puzzled but come up with a time when we are all free.

If Hilarey doesn’t like our plan, we naturally will do something else. But she loves it. We knew that she would. Game on. Last thing on our list is matching watches to coordinate with Hilarey’s awesome white tide watch Lewis gives her as a wedding present and she plans to wear. I find the perfect compliment on Amazon and our outfits are complete.

Oh and Val squeezed out time to go on her own shopping adventure finding perfect matching shirts at WRV for our guys. To round out the mix we added Lokai find your balance bracelets for all the family gals (sorry guys we could not get ones in your size in time).


Hey y’all, we’re married!


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Mom, We NEED A Swim Team!

team on boat

My heart sinks a little bit at Emily’s request. I know just how much work all of it involves. But I know too that she misses the swim team activities that we engage in when we live in Richmond. There we’re an east end team newly welcomed into the immense James River Aquatic Club that also includes big money clubs such as the Country Club of Virginia. The league is one of the largest in Richmond. We are Anirav. Varina spelled backwards. We are small. We barely win any meets but we are in the big leagues. (Still going strong Anirav won the JRAC Sportmanship Award for their division in 2014).

I know nothing about swim teams. As a teen, I once consider joining the newly formed team at my neighborhood pool, Swimland, in Whitehall, Ohio. But when I find out the practices are early mornings before the pool opens and how absolutely cold the water is, I quit before I start.

At Anirav five year old Emily is in swimming lessons with a friend whose brother is on the team. Missy is a powerful swimmer but she does not yet swim the length of the pool without stopping. Neither Emily nor I realize the significance of the feat but when she accomplishes this in her test to pass the class, she immediately gets drafted by Missy’s mom to swim on a relay team.

It sounds like fun. We agree. It’s an away meet at Sandston. Emily does her part but she is very slow. Still she completes an otherwise incomplete relay team. They win points and ribbons. And we’re hooked.

championshipAs the years progress I find myself team mom, creating a team name, gathering monies for t-shirts and accessories, and attending JRAC meetings as our pool representative. The league is divided by size of teams and so we are put together with our own kind. At the end of the season every member team joins in the championship competition. It’s days of heats and heats of swimming, camping out under any available shade to await your turn after hours upon hours of waiting. But you dare not leave, your parking place will be eaten up.

Win your heat and you advance. The best Emily does is come in 9th over all in butterfly her last year before we move. Not bad for a summer league only swimmer. Many of the summer league kids also swim in the winter and keep their skills at top notch level. That’s 9th out of hundreds the girls in her age bracket. Just a bit higher and she would have gotten a place ribbon.

lewisThen we move to the Outer Banks in the mid-eighties and settle into our new life. We have a great community pool but it lacks youth activities. And is so casually run! Our Inlet Court neighbor, Tom Piddington and I both volunteer for the board of directors at the same time with the same purpose in mind. To make the pool a safer place. He has come from northern Virginia and a strong community swimming pool lifestyle. We don’t know each other at all. His kids are all grown. But we hit it off. We become the official pool committee. We write guidelines. The board publishes them and every member gets mailed a copy. This takes an entire winter of our lives.

As summer rolls around I take charge of hiring a staff. I get my WSI certification and schedule swimming lessons. And we begin Emily’s swim team. The first year I watch. The next year I decide to coach. I have seen enough. I know how this works. Scott Zincone has come on board as a lifeguard for the pool and jumps in to co-coach.

rick & scott

Rick Gray from Duck Woods Country Club has also heard the calling, this time over beer and conversation. He’s in it too for his kids. Both pools have actually had teams in the past but neither in recent history. Being a willing rookie Rick follows my lead. We pattern our match ups using the JRAC footprint. We plan meets. Surprisingly to me Colington proves to be the power to beat.  Emily & Donald are used to the low on the totem Anirav team. So much that when a meet that the Argonauts can win is scheduled during our OBX vacation time, we voluntarily travel back to Richmond to help out and back to the OBX to finish our ‘hope this never ends’ vacation.

Duck Woods is our only competition. Okay to be accurate back up just a step. Nautics Hall in Manteo does join our adventure one year but after we organize the first (and only) Outer Banks Swim League Championship and they end up in third place Manteo fades from view.

hawk powerAnd so for years we compete weekly against Kitty Hawk neighbor Duck Woods. Our team is huge. We have a big pool to draw from. We get more points in the age for age, stroke for stroke match ups. But the real victory of the meets comes down to which team can take the blue for the all age mixed free style relay. We win most of the time but when DW does win those bragging rights they are elated. I can relate. Small team roots run deep.

Emily insists that we have team suits. Parents are willing to pony up for this matching uniform. I collect size information, monies and order suits. We pick a team name. I create a design. We get Hawk Power t-shirts made. We bake snacks to raise money for ribbons and team accessories. Through the marching years to stretch our dollar, I screen print swim caps. Hats. We get towels embroidered. And gear bags. And backpacks. And always more t-shirts. We are a team. We are the Mighty Seahawks!




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