Returning to the ballpark and summer fun

A couple years ago, I wrote a column about attending a baseball game with our then 14-month-old daughter. I feared we’d never be able to enjoy America’s favorite pastime again.

It’s a fear that hasn’t come to pass, thankfully, as we attended several baseball games last summer in Fargo and Minneapolis and even one this spring in Baltimore, Md. But I’ve realized the reason we enjoy the games has changed tremendously (which is good, considering the Twins haven’t given us much to cheer about this year).

Last night, my family of three returned to Newman Outdoor Field for the Redhawks home opener, with our now 3-year-old. The Redhawks put on a fine performance, but for us, last night wasn’t about the play on the field. It was about spending time together as a family. That’s why we got to the ballpark an hour before first pitch, to enjoy the free kid-friendly activities. Including the playground and sandbox and …

Face painting ...

and …

Caricatures ...

and, of course,

Hawkeye!

 (There was also an inflatable game, but this particular “bouncy thing” was a bit too big for Eve.)

As we soaked in the evening sun, I thought about not just the baseball games we’ll attend this summer (now remembering to always buy AISLE seats for potty trips and concession runs), but the other family fun the summer months bring. I’ve already added these FREE local events to our family calendar:

Share a Story, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 4, Rheault Farm
Safety Safari, 3 to 7 p.m. June 9, Red River Zoo (Also, there’s free admission to the zoo June 3!)
Midwest Kid Fest, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 17, Island Park (Teddy Bear Parade at 10:30)
Community Block Parties, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays May 18 through June 29, various Fargo city parks/locations
Red River Valley Fair, July 8-16, West Fargo (Free gate admission 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays. Great free exhibits for the little kids, like the petting zoo)

Welcome, summer. We’ve been waiting for you.

What events are your family looking forward to this year?

Pastime not as relaxing with tot

Here’s my June 2 Parenting Perspectives column

Last summer, my husband and I introduced our daughter to our, and America’s, favorite pastime.

Bundled in a blanket and topped with a sunhat, we took our newborn to her first baseball game at Newman Outdoor Field.

I can’t remember if the RedHawks won that July game, but I fondly recall our swaddled 4-month-old sleeping in the stands.

So as this summer slowly introduced itself, I was excited to again enjoy warm-weather activities as a family of three.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon last month, I dressed Eve in a pink baseball jersey onesie, strapped on a sunhat and grabbed our tickets.

But it was not meant to be an enjoyable afternoon at the ballpark.

We’re not the same family we were a year ago.

Instead of an infant who coos for two innings and snoozes for seven, we have a wriggly toddler who refuses to sit still.

The sunhat was not meant to stay on her head.

The ketchup on my hot dog, apparently, was meant to cover her shirt.

She laughed, loudly, through the national anthem. Once the game started, she screamed, loudly, but not for the players.

Smack in the center of lower reserved seating, we repeatedly disturbed the fans next to us as we hauled our fussy toddler up the stairs.

My husband spent a couple of innings entertaining her at the playground, while I sat alone in the stands.

One last attempt to enjoy the game as a family didn’t last long. Naptime was approaching. It was time to go. Now.

We didn’t even make it to the seventh-inning stretch.

I left the stadium wondering if we’d ever enjoy our favorite summer activities again.

While an outing to the lake last year seemed cumbersome, we were able to buckle her in an infant seat and set her in the shade.

Now that she has a mind of her own, and an able body to match, it’s almost too daunting. Even stroller rides on the Old Milwaukee Trail can be fitful.

I guess it’s just a matter of adjusting, and readjusting, to a growing child.

And at least with baseball, we learned our lesson.

The next weekend, we took Eve to her second Twins game at the Metrodome.

We bought general admission seats for the uppermost section and sat on the aisle.

We took turns spending innings with her in the hallway and left after the sixth, before any meltdowns.

One day, our evolving family of three will make it through the seventh-inning stretch, happily singing baseball’s unofficial anthem.

Bring on the peanuts and Cracker Jack. I don’t care to ever go back to that debacle at the diamond.

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Sherri Richards is mother of a 14-month-old daughter and employee of The Forum. She’s also “Top Mom” at moms.inforum.com