Saturday, July 19, 2014

Travel Feet: Field of Dreams Movie Set

Travel Feet: Field of Dreams | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
View from the bleachers.
Summer and baseball go together like peanut butter and jelly, Bonnie and Clyde, road trips and rest stops, and my left foot and right foot. On our way back from a family reunion in the Midwest, Hubby and I followed our Travel Feet, and my cousins who had the directions in their car, to a slightly-off-the-beaten-path tourist attraction. We visited the set of the 1989 baseball flick, Field of Dreams. 

After fifteen years of spending many hot, cold, rainy, windy, dry, dusty weekends and weeknights sitting in seats along the first and third base lines, baseball holds a special, warm fuzzy spot in our hearts. While raising our boys, my Travel Feet visited many ballfields. So, yes, we thought it would be pretty cool to meander through the baseball movie set carved out of an Iowa corn field. 

It was more than pretty cool. It was magical. 

We expected to park, hop out of the car, use the restroom--it was a 3 1/2 hour drive from my uncle's house to the movie set--and run the bases. Then we arrived.
Souvenirs | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Yes, we bought a few items at the
souvenir shop. 

The tourist attraction was relatively crowded. Lots of people milled about here and there. There were lines at the souvenir shop, which looked like a concession stand. There were lots of people on the field. There were people posing for pictures and walking in and out of the oddly tall corn stalks.

The one place without lines was the port-a-potty rest room area. Upon learning why there were no lines in that area, I decided to hold it in until we found a place for lunch. I did not have to go that badly, anyway.

Meanwhile, what was happening on the field was more exciting than ghosts coming out of the corn to play ball. What we witnessed was groups of strangers from all over the country playing a pick-up game of baseball. No rules, no age limitations, no arguing or kicking up dirt. Just folks sharing gloves, bats and balls while giving each other turns at bat, opportunities to run bases, and chances to field and pitch. 

Sitting on the bleachers, taking it all in, I was moved. Wouldn't it be great if people everywhere interacted with each other the way they did on this baseball field?
Interactive Movie Set | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Best interactive movie set, ever! 

While there, however, we learned that the current owner wants to develop the Field of Dreams site into a sports complex with multiple fields. And while I'm all about having places for children to play sports, I believe it would be a great tragedy to tear down this particular movie set. It was the closest experience to world peace I've ever encountered. It was truly inspirational.

If they need to make more money, I have some ideas. They could sell concessions. Hot dogs, peanuts and apple pie pair well with baseball and hungry travelers. They could build a nice bathroom facility so tourists will stay longer and buy more concessions and souvenirs. They could invite famous baseball players to walk out onto the field via the corn stalks and play in the impromptu games with tourists. 

They built it. Twenty-five years later, they still come. There is something undeniably magical and special about that. It would be a shame to let it go. If you think so too, you can help. There is a Save the Field of Dreams Facebook page. And if you have not visited, you should consider routing your next road trip through Dyersville, Iowa. 

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at)
Connect with Micki on Google+
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Snack Time is Essential to the Team Experience

Say YES to Snacks | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Teams, coaches and families
need snack time.
Sorry, Nicole, but I completely disagree with what I interpret as a cop out regarding post-practice and post-game snack time. Hubby and I raised three boys, all of whom played organized sports. Snack time was an essential part of the experience. And here's why:

1. The children like to be involved in planning, selecting and distributing snacks for their teammates. It provides lessons on selflessness, generosity and servitude.

2. Snack time after practice or a game provides socialization among teammates as well as siblings, parents, grandparents, coaches and everyone involved with the team. The teams on which my children played were like extended family. We spent lots of time in gyms and on ball fields with these folks.

3. For the siblings especially, snack time offers a chance for them to feel like part of their brother or sister's team. When they feel like part of the team, they are more likely to enjoy going to practices and games as well as cheering on their siblings and the rest of the team. 

4. While the children are snacking, the coaches can review, announce and praise among a captive audience.
Snack time gives coaches speech
time and builds camaraderie.

5. Snack time creates opportunities for parents to model healthy food and beverage choices. 

Parents who feel like it is too soon for their children to eat again can take the snack to go. Parents who feel a particular snack is unhealthy can provide an alternative and use the situation as a teachable moment for their family. Parents of children with food allergies can provide the other parents with allergy information so accommodations can be made. But to simply say no to an integral part of the team experience seems awfully selfish and counterproductive.

I will always cherish memories of my dirty, big, strong athletes tossing snacks to their fellow teammates after a game as well as reaching down to hand a cold drink and snack to the younger siblings of their teammates who enthusiastically cheered for them from the sidelines. I truly believe team snack time had just as much to do with the amazing young adults my boys became as did participating on the teams. 

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at)
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare

Friday, July 11, 2014

First Cars and The Gil Test

My Boys' First Car | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My boys' first car had
wood paneling AND a sunroof!
When my boys were toddlers, they padded around the house in a blue toy car. Carrying their favorite stuffed animals in the open-air trunk, they made their way up and down hallways and in and out of rooms in a plastic box on casters. That vehicle took up space in our home for a decade. It began as our oldest son’s ride and was eventually passed down to his brothers. 

By the time our youngest inherited the plastic car, it was a little wobbly and one of the doors was misaligned. It had stickers and crayon markings on the body. One of the wheel rods was slightly bent. But it always got the boys from the playroom to the kitchen when they were hungry. 

Saving up for the toy car meant switching to generic paper towels, clipping a few coupons and forgoing restaurants for a few weeks. There were two color choices—pink and blue. While the pink one was nice, the blue matched their toys, clothes and eyes. 

When they were not allowed to travel past the stop sign at the end of the road, my boys were content with bicycles and skateboards as their preferred modes of transportation. We had to do a bit more penny-pinching to afford their all-terrain vehicles. And by all-terrain, I mean our backyard, neighbors’ driveways, vacant lots, the ball fields adjacent to our neighborhood and the cul-de-sac.

Eventually, they wanted to be able to get to places like school, work and their own apartments on their own. Our oldest was the first to transition to car ownership. His first car was blue. He loved that car. But then our mechanic saw it.
The Gil Test | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Gil Goldstein, co-owner of
G&G Automotive,
gives the prospective car
a thorough look-see.

When your mechanic pulls you aside to inform you your child is driving around in a death trap, he tends to break the news in a stern, serious manner, especially if he is a close family friend. Our oldest now drives a white, newer model car with an airbag.

When our middle child was ready to get to his apartment in Raleigh without bumming a ride from family or friends, we waited another year. Unfortunately, passing down his brother's car was not an option like it was when the boys were five. 

First, we had to find something in our modest price range. Then, it had to pass the “Do you really think I want to be seen driving that?” test. When we found vehicles that passed our first two criteria, they still had to pass the final, most difficult test of all—The Gil Test.

Our mechanic, Gil, and his associates, would have to look over the vehicle. They would have to open doors and pop the hood. They would have to put it on a lift, pull out the flashlight and touch things. And, if after every aspect was thoroughly checked out, Gil gave it a thumbs up, we could move on to negotiation and purchase.

The first car we brought by for The Gil Test failed miserably. It was red, sporty and, in its prime, fuel efficient. However, it had dry-rotted tires, no oil and an engine that was nearly ready to give up its fight against years of abuse. Having learned from that experience, as Gil made sure we saw and understood what he saw and knew, we became more discriminating in our search. Two other cars, while affordable and nice looking, were not worthy of The Gil Test.

But then we happened upon a well-kept sedan. It was sporty, but conservative. It did not sound like it was going to fall apart in a strong wind during the test drive. Gil found a few things that needed tinkering, but for our price range, it was in relatively good shape.

His First Car | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Nearly two decades after his brother
drove him around in the blue plastic car,
he finally has a ride of his own.
Armed with Gil’s detailed information about the car’s history and condition based on his under-hood sleuthing, we returned to the car lot to haggle. My son waited outside, not yet willing to believe he might have something to drive home. A few minutes later, I stepped out to get insurance information out of the glove compartment. I winked as I whispered, “You have a car.”

Not since my dad has there been a test so strict and tough as to make me feel confident enough to purchase a metal box in which a child of mine would whiz up and down the highways of life at 70 miles per hour. I miss the blue plastic car. I miss my dad. But I am so very grateful we have Gil and his beautiful wife Rosie riding beside us on this journey through life.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at)
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare