Over the last week, Jonny and I have been agonizing over whether or not we can manage to have Gabe and Keats play travel baseball next season. In addition to the big commitment it requires, their team will travel to Cooperstown next year, and so will our entire family if we sign on. We’re trying to figure out whether or not we can manage it, and totally losing sleep over the whole thing. We want to do what is best for the boys and don’t want them to miss out on opportunities, but it’s hard to know just how much we should sacrifice, since any sacrifice made ultimately affects the whole family. I mention it here because I think that one day Jonny and I may look back at this time and laugh at how much we worried over the whole thing and how overwhelming it felt. I called a friend for advice over the weekend, and she actually laughed out loud because she is knee deep in a similar decision making process right now. Maybe some of you will understand too.
Sunday afternoon I was desperate to get out of the house and just be outdoors, somewhere that we could escape all the nonstop going round and round about it all. We had limited time and chose to spend an hour at the river. When we arrived there was a collective groan as our kids realized that the water was much higher than we were expecting. They made the best of it though, the little ones staying close to the shore and everyone helping each other. I think that is what struck me most when I started looking through these photos, the teamwork, the togetherness. All of our kids were looking out for each other. This might sound corny, but that really gives me hope. The dynamic at home is not always as positive and that is putting it mildly. I think it is so important that we spend time away from home together, even if it’s just an hour at the river on a Sunday afternoon. Rivalries are abandoned, grudges forgotten. It’s just us and the outdoors, no worries.


  1. What I’m saying, but I don’t think I really said, is the little ones will get their day, too. 🙂

  2. This decision is especially difficult because it affects the lives of the little ones, to a large degree. When our older kids were in sports, it was just local. Now that the youngest is 12 and there is only a 17-year-old at home, I feel much more free to increase her involvement in dance. She and I are usually the only ones affected by her involvement (and my husband’s wallet). Your position in the family really shouldn’t decide what you can and cannot do, but it does, and that’s reality.
    PS I’m so glad you were honest about your kids not getting along well at home. So many bloggers seem to have such loving children, and my two youngest fight all the time.

  3. This is timely for me as well. We only have 4 kids and the oldest 2 are just finishing rec. baseball and THAT feels like a lot. My nephew is in travel and it seems like their whole family life for three or four months is baseball. Every weekend. That is way too much for me and seems unbalanced for our family. But it’s hard. If it’s something that everyone (or at least all the older ones) can do, it might be worth it but man, the past couple months with just rec baseball have pulled us way out of our comfort zone and I feel like we lost a lot of family time. The Sundays would be hard, too. I want my kids to know that we move other things around for Mass not we move Mass around for other things and you can’t really do that with a travel league. Really struggling with how we can pull off ANY sports especially as the littles get older and join in! Prayers for your discernment. At the very least, Cooperstown is supposed to be awesome. My mom keeps telling me we need to get there for a visit and that we’d love it!

  4. Michele says:

    I read your blog but have never commented but wanted to speak up tonight!
    My 2 kids played travel soccer for several years and yes, it was daunting. They are 2 years apart so always on separate teams. They played for our small town’s club so at least same club, so mostly same tournaments, but it was hectic!
    That said, it brought us SO close together as a family. We were able to bond over something they both enjoyed doing and we spent many a long car ride discussing games, teammates, other teams, refs, etc. I don’t know if there would’ve been anything else that could’ve cemented us together like that. There were some thrilling victories and agonizing defeats and it was GOOD for them. It *is* an investment of time and money. But, looking back, I am GLAD we did it as it gave them very good skills, lessons (not just soccer lessons, either!), and family time. My younger son burned out this year as a u16 player and now only plays high school ball, but my older son has gone all the way through high school playing travel, rec, adult league, pick up games, high school ball…you name it. It’s his passion. It has been such a part of our family life, I will miss it so much when he leaves next month to start college. But, he will be playing in college, so for him it really did “pay off”. Even if he hadn’t gone on, though, I think what we gained as a family was worth it. For us. I realize it is not for every family and we took it year by year. The moment it was not working, we would’ve walked away.
    As far as church goes – we are Catholic, so weekend tournaments we would use to find the nearest mass. We NEVER missed church because of soccer. Never. The coaches knew it was a non-negotiable. Some games we would leave immediately at the last whistle to make it to Saturday evening mass, and some Sundays they would come flying in right before the game started. But, if it came down to playing soccer or going to Mass, we would’ve gone to Mass. That was something we were very adamant about and thankfully, there was always a church around with a mass time that worked, even if sometimes it was crazy hectic!
    Good luck as you make your decision!

    • Thank you so much for commenting. Your words really affirmed our decision. And your experience really mirrors ours- so thank you for taking the time to share!

  5. Jennifer says:

    You would be really “close” to the shrine of North American Martyrs!!

  6. As the mother of 3 boys who all play baseball, I say, yes, let them play Cooperstown is an experience they will never forget. My 17 year old played in the Pony League World Series tournaments when he was 14. Huge commitment, especially with younger ones, but it was so fun.

  7. There is no “easy” answer on the ball thing. For our family, we just do local rec teams because it’s really all we can afford financially and time-wise. My husband works 6 days a week and there is no way I can cart each of the 3 kids to their own travel team stuff. We’ve thought about it and tried, honestly….and it just wasn’t for us. The team expenses (matching outfits, bags, hotel rooms, gas, food, etc) was out of hand. Plus, it required us to miss almost every weekend in the season, which meant no church attendance and they missed out on other things like birthday parties, pool time, and so on.
    I don’t say that in a judge-y way. Just know that there is life after travel ball and rec ball can be just (nearly) as fun. So many people seem to pity us families who either can’t afford or don’t want to do travel ball, but we’re all doing just fine, I promise. And like someone said above, your kids will be disappointed but they will also move on. There is SO MUCH to life, this is just one of the many “good things” they’ll experience.

  8. I do understand!
    Hi Ginny,
    I followed your blog a number of years ago when our family began our remarkable trees of Virginia study from inspiration from your blog. We live in Southwest Virginia {and are still going on remarkable tree adventures} But with a recent move to the backwoods from town, I haven’t had much time for blog reading. This past week as we have taken some time off from things, I began reading some old blogs. I never commented much before, but when I came over today for a visit and saw this post I was reminded of why I enjoyed your writing and photos so much.
    Your right. “It’s hard to know just how much we should sacrifice, since any sacrifice made ultimately affects the whole family.”
    In our culture today when I look around I see so many folks involved into so many things and the lack is always good family time. I don’t think families take this as serious as it should be. And this is something for our family that greatly suffers if we are not careful to weigh what we should be involved in and not.
    The one component that knits a family so close together I think is just that…teamwork. And so, I will go ahead and thank the good Lord for the right decision that you will make:-)
    From the Backwoods of Virginia, And old blog reader~

  9. This is such a tough decision! I will pray for your discernment.
    I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere else in the comments so I thought I would note, that you have stated that your boys are very talented when it comes to baseball. If you suspect that they are talented enough, this activity could lead to college scholarships. It could be worth the sacrifice…. As a mom of 8, I think about these things, (thankfully none of mine show enough talent for dh or I to deal with team sports).
    This year my older two sons had an opportunity to attend an important robotics competition, 14hrs away from home. It turned out that dh had a work conflict & couldn’t go, but after much prayer, we decided to let the boys go. It was hard not being there, but they were soooo happy to go! I realized that with the size of my family, this will be the norm.
    I don’t have the energy to show up for every activity, competition, or event. The kids know we love them and want to be there, but it’s not always possible. They know it’s part of the deal & sacrifice they make when signing on to an activity. I still feel guilty, though
    One other thought, I know your friends w/ Elizabeth Foss, I bet she would be a great help in sorting this stuff out.

    • I think the scholarship idea is a really good point–we are staring college in the face in the next year for our oldest, with three more to follow and it’s intimidating

  10. Ginny,
    We have two children, now 14 and 11 1/2 that are involved in ultra demanding competitive sports, our oldest is an Alpine Ski racer and our daughter, an competitive equestrian eventer. This means our oldest trains and races 6 days a week from November to the end of March then our daughter trains year round but it’s six days a week March to november. We generally don’t get much of a break unless we go on vacation – lol! All I can say is that if baseball is their passion as skiing and riding are with both of my children then it’s just a short few years we have to give our time to trucking them all over 3 states…. I have seen their characters built and the strength doing something with such passion has given my children. It has translated into every aspect of their life – most of all for my teen and tween – Time Management – a huge missing skill in lots of kids today. I also know we have made the right choices bc both of my kids are up at the crack of dawn on race days & show days, bags packed and can’t wait to do what they love. On a parental note, In a few short years they will both be off to college and won’t need me to drive them anymore or cheer them on from the sidelines while I hold my breath, until then, we’ll be cramming every bit of life we can between all the sports practices, races and shows and somehow hoping we make it all work.

  11. As others have said, this is difficult because each family is different and different things work for different people.
    The subject of team sports is probably one of the biggest sources of frustration I have dealt with as a wife and mom. I married into a family where it is expected that parents and grandparents will go to ALL home AND away games; my stepkids were already quite entrenched in organized sports when I joined the family. However, I have set boundaries to protect the health of my younger kids and myself–we attend a few home games as we can and usually don’t go to any away games. I also put my spiritual beliefs/practices as a priority before everything else and don’t attend games that interfere with that.
    I don’t want to discourage any of my children’s interests and often feel guilty for not attending every game, but I know the fallout that would happen with my younger kids’ sleep, etc. and the household in general if I did. I have this nagging sense that organized sports fracture the family and encourage entitlement/lack of consideration of others in the family unit. I hope to help my younger boys become engaged with things like hiking, camping, etc., that can be fun lifelong activities. All of that to say that that’s how I view sports for my family.
    From what you share here about baseball, your boys don’t seem to take the opportunity for granted. Have you asked them (and the rest of the kids) what they think about next year’s opportunity? It would be a memorable experience, that’s for sure! I’m sure you and Jonny both are praying for wisdom, and I hope whatever decision is made that everyone feel confidence and peace.
    And, you’re right–getting outdoors solves (or helps fade to the background) so many problems! I just love the teamwork I see in all your photos!

  12. Corinne says:

    Well, I might be wrong, but it sounds like you have
    answered your own dilemma about whether or not you
    should sign up for the travel baseball when you said
    ‘ I think it is so important that we spend time away from home together’
    and ‘ I think that is what struck me most when I started looking through these photos, the teamwork, the togetherness. All of our kids were looking out for each other. ‘
    …will keep you all in prayer!

  13. that’s so sweet and so true- the togetherness I mean. my kids and I went to the beach today and I noticed that as well- siblings who kind of had enough of each other at home were loving the time together in the Lake (Michigan) and I was really glad that none of my friends could meet us there and it was “just” the 8 of us.

  14. Very sweet. I’ll be looking forward to hearing eventually what decision you reached about the baseball. We are not quite there yet

  15. I probably won’t be much help since our family doesn’t play sports. One of the reasons for that is that when we were a young couple with young kids, we saw how crazy life got for sports families. My husband especially didn’t want that kind of life and he preferred the kids played sports for fun (not competition). Granted, sports were never a priority with him. My husband never watches games (I think he’d rather have a root canal). He likes hiking, gardening and working with animals as his outdoor activities. We wanted to be able to eat dinner together daily as a family, pray together and listen to Daddy read aloud daily. The extra driving (and uniforms, and snacks and fees) sports entailed would also have put too much of a strain on our finances and our old van. One of my sons played basketball for awhile, but under our local parks and rec. group. Practices were once a week (the coaches weren’t preparing anyone for the NBA, they just wanted them to learn the basics and have fun), the games were in town on Saturdays. Fun, but no pressure. We’ve know so many kids who’ve experienced serious injury that’s stayed with them as adults (off the top of my head, I know two young men whose knees were shot before they were 20). Maybe that’s bad coaching or doing too many sports and not giving time to heal properly. We’ve also known parents who (because they hadn’t learned to bi-locate) started dropping teenage kids off at games without supervision. Some of those kids got into bad company and it went down hill from there. I know other families have different experiences, but that’s the ethos that’s influenced our decision.

  16. Making decisions about individual kids’ activities when you have a big family is hard. I have 7 (Going on 8), and I notice the huge difference between our family doin activities and families with one or two kids doing these activities. For them, it’s not as much of an ordeal, since there just aren’t as many people to consider. But when you have a whole crew of kids, different ages, it’s a whole new ball game (sorry. That pun was totally unintended. Promise.) But as I have been thinking about it, there is a balancing act in the whole raising a big family thing. It’s important for individual kids to have the chance to pursue their passion, if at all possible, and I think it can be good for the other kids to learn to support them in that, and encourage them, even if it means things aren’t always convenient for the whole family. On the flip side, the kids pursuing said passion, need to learn the boundaries of what is possible for them sometimes, and learn to be willing to give something up for a time, if necessary, for the sake of the family. Does that make sense? At any rate, if you do end up coming north to Cooperstown, there is a lot to do in Central NY. Lots of parks, waterfalls, lakes.
    Also, so true about getting out of the house with them all. I have found that the ones who have the hardest time getting along at one often end up helping each other the most when we are outside.

  17. Lovely family lovely post
    we had a River in Wisconsin….we thought it was ours. Not very wide, not very deep. We tubed down it all the time.
    We put the kids in Life vests and anchored the tubes in the middle and we played and played
    and we got a few leeches

  18. Decisions like these are so complicated. When our family becomes so busy, I try to remember that it is only for a time. It is not like it all year round, and they will be leaving the home some time in the future. I try and put in perspective that I only have a small amount of time, I might as well make the most of it, and try and help them make the most of it as well. Never makes the decision easier, just helps my thought process. You guys are such thoughtful parents, I am sure whatever decision you make will be for the best of the entire family. Praying for your decision.

  19. Submitted on 2014/07/01 at 4:08 pm
    I only found your blog today and started participating in the yarn along but this evening I returned because I wanted to have a look at your other posts. I thought this was such a lovely post – both in pictures and in words – and it touched me because I could recognise things that we experience too, as a family; the need to enable one another but also the need to compromise, to find a way of living as a family that doesn’t sacrifice too much or too little for its individual members. We are not yet making bigger-impact decisions such as yours because my oldest is only 7, but with three little ones it is already noticeable that they have different needs, different interests that need to be met and negotiated. And those moments of looking out for each other and *being* together amidst the everyday bickering and competitiveness? Those are the best moments.

  20. Oh Ginny I sure can relate about the family chemistry (among the children) not being so great – we have been struggling there as well and Mike and I came to the conclusion last night that we probably do all need to get out more – do something outside the house all together. I pray that you come to feel peaceful about making a decision regarding the baseball.

  21. You guys have so much good old fashioned, healthy fun! It’s wonderful to see.

  22. I agree with another commenter that it is tough to offer suggestions b/c you know your family best. I can only share with you how my family handles travel sports. I have 3 children, lots of pets, and live on an island. Travel sports are expensive, take all day due to ferry travel, require a pet sitter, and usually fall on a Sunday. My husband and I have decided to allow our children to participate with the knowledge that the rest of the family won’t always attend their games ( off island relatives attend some of the time but not always), and they must attend church during off seasons. My son went to Cooperstown without us and had a fantastic time. I consider these experiences to be baby steps towards independence.

  23. I have a son who is very good at soccer. He could easily play travel . We too had to make the choice. For us the choice was made for us. Travel soccer has games on Sunday . We have church on Sunday. For us worshiping on Sunday is most important. It is also important to have time for the family to be home together . My son still gets to play soccer on a team and we get the family life that we want. Pray and the Hoky Spirit will guide you to what He wants for your family.

  24. I think you just answered your own question on whether or not your boys should do travel baseball.
    “When we arrived there was a collective groan as our kids realized that the water was much higher than we were expecting. They made the best of it though, the little ones staying close to the shore and everyone helping each other. I think that is what struck me most when I started looking through these photos, the teamwork, the togetherness.”
    There might be a groan in the beginning until you get your footing, but then you will all help each other out– whatever that may entail. You’ll make the best of it, and then:
    “one day Jonny and I may look back at this time and laugh at how much we worried over the whole thing and how overwhelming it felt. ”
    Go for it.

  25. That looks like SO much fun! My immediate thought after looking through the photos was, “What a perfect title,” because you can absolutely see the kids all helping one another out. That’s so awesome.
    Good luck in your decision making! Why are making choices so hard?? Can I use a Magic 8 ball, or is there an age limit? 🙂

  26. I hesitate to weigh in because no one knows your situation better than you! And nothing is ever as cut and dry as we’d like. But, for what it’s worth, here’s a total outsider’s thoughts; There are so many disappointments in life, aren’t there? If the boys are disappointed over telling them no to travel sports… they will get over it. They’ll have to. It’ll be a life lesson learned. Your family is your “team” and they (all of you, not just two) come first. Is there a team they can play on that doesn’t travel? If one, or both, are super talented at baseball, then baseball will find them and make it happen when the time is right. The life that you and your husband provide is so beautiful and authentic. At times, not all the kids will see that, or appreciate it. They might even resent it and yearn for a city life (the grass is always greener), but in the long run, pray that the benefits outweigh the sacrifices. I believe they will — by the tons 🙂

  27. Michelle says:

    Lovely river spot! Could you share where your biggest girl’s swimsuit is from? We have the hardest time finding these!

    • It was purchased end of season from Land’s End a few years ago. I buy one year ahead and can typically find pieces for around five bucks doing it that way!

  28. Activities for children are such a balancing act. A cousin of mine with grown children told me a year ago that she regretted being so engaged in travel sports with her older kids because her younger kids missed out on family hikes and other activities they gave up due to spending so much time on sport fields and traveling to and from. Other families say they love it. You will make the best decisions for your own family. And I need to hold on to the moments of peace and caring that may be fleeting but nonetheless prove it isn’t just bickering between my kids all of the time! Time in nature is truly the best remedy.

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