Friday, June 2, 2017

Dear Coach...Thanks for being the Unsung Hero!

Dear Coach,

Thank you! And not, "thank you" like I say to the person that holds open a door for me or thank you to the server at the restaurant. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I may not always show my appreciation, and I am sorry for that, but I want you to know that I see what you do and I know much of what you do goes unseen. I can only guess the number of hours you spend sending emails, creating line ups, rescheduling rain outs, prepping fields, and planning drills. And that's the work we don't see. On top of that, you run practices, get to games early, coach games, deal with our child's emotions after they miss the catch, hit or goal and play clean up for all of the stuff left on the bench.  You deal with parents when their kids don't 'play enough' or when preferred positions are not chosen.  You deal with the ref or ump when unfair calls are made and bite your tongue to set a good example.  You put up with the peanut-gallery of parents yelling from the stands, sometime unknowingly giving direction that differs from the one you gave when you sent our kid onto the field.

More than that, you are not just our child's sport coach, you are our child's mentor and life coach.  They watch you when they win and when they lose.  They see your attitude and how to handle an array of emotions. They receive your patience and also your tough love, when needed.  If our children make teams as they get older and move on it is your foundation that they are jumping from. That is invaluable.

Personally, we have had a lot of physical trials on our team this season, my child included.  I cannot be more grateful for the way you have handled it.  You have been patient with me and my son.  You have encouraged him and helped him to have remain part of the team even though he cannot always give 100%.  More, you have taught our children how to be compassionate to teammates. You have taught them that this sport is bigger than games won or lost, it's even bigger than athletic skills learned.

You have a family and a job and a whole life outside the field.  As a mom who sometimes struggles just to get the uniform clean and my kid to the field on time, I do not know how you squeeze it all in, but I am beyond appreciative that you do.  I am well aware without people like you that the rest of the children would not have a team to be on.

Thank you for stepping up to the plate and for committing to more than you may have meant to when you first volunteered.  Thank you for making such a difference in my child's life.  It is such a blessing to have someone who was a stranger to us not so long ago give such care about my child and our family.  Please know that even if we do not say it enough, there are a team of parents who appreciate you and are forever indebted to your time, skill, support and guidance.

I know your coaching salary check seems to always get lost in the mail, but I hope that you know we know how much you are worth.

Aimee and Parents of athletes everywhere

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tips for Taking Younger Kids to thier Siblings Sporting Events

Having a 9 year old athlete with a 2.5 year-old in tow, I have had to learn a few tips and tricks to make games watchable and tournaments enjoyable.
Let me start by recognizing that certain ages are just going to be tough no matter what you do. For example, a new walker can be tough even if you have all of the tools possible. Hopefully, however, some of these ideas will help for various ages.
Bring a stroller or a wagon  - Even if your child is past the stroller stage, some fields are far and when you are bringing stuff you will want an easy way to transport.  If you have a younger child, this will also give you a place to change diapers and may help them nap.
Invest in a sun shade and chair  - I bought this sun shade at Aldi for $15, but it would have been worth double that.  It gives my daughter a place that she can keep her toys and play. It also shields her from sun and wind.  Having a chair is certainly not a necessity, but it saves me from having her on my lap when it is 90 degrees.

Encourage friendships with the other siblings - I know this seems obvious, but I forgot how well varied ages can play together.  The other siblings were 4 and 5, so I did not encourage my 2 1/2 year-old to play with them at first. Eventually, she did it on her own and had a ball.

If young, bring a portable/ potty training toilet - We started potty training mid-season and quickly were reminded that not all fields have bathrooms and even if they do, they may be pretty far for a little one. We found our best option was to bring her potty training toilet with us along with wipes. We would take her off to the woodline where others could not see when it was the only choice we had.

Put them in sneakers - Some fields have grass all around them and others have mulch near by. After getting sick of picking mulch out of crocs and wiping off flip flopped feet, I instituted that my daughter would wear sneakers to games so that there would be one less thing to upset her.
Keep a bag in the car with the following:
  • Small Toys - We found the small 2-3 inch characters were hit with various ages. We have My Little Ponies, Mickey Clubhouse, Cars and Paw Patrol characters that we found a bunch of at Big Lots. I also added matchbox cars and books to this box. This box had things that would be fine staying in the car regardless of weather and stayed in the car all season.
  • Similar toys to the sport you are watching - It is pretty typical for the younger sibling to want to emulate the older one. As a result, our daughter loves playing with a bat and baseball, a soccer ball or a fiddle stick while watching her brother.  
  • Coloring books and Crayons or wipe off-board  - If you are in a season where the crayons will melt in the car, you may want to switch to washable markers or colored pencils. Either way, coloring and drawing are good activities that many kids enjoy and gives them something to do that even older kids may enjoy with them.
  • Non-perishable snacks (replenish as needed) - Even though I do pack fruit and such for longer events, I also like to have some emergency snacks in case our day was too busy to plan well.  Things like veggie straws, granola bars, pretzels and goldfish stay fine in the car in a sealed bag for weeks regardless of weather and help get the little ones through the day.
Obviously, there are other tricks regardless of bringing siblings. Things like frozen water bottles that can help keep items cold and offer cold water once they melt are a good idea even for adults. This post, however, was meant specifically for siblings. Perhaps I will write another post for any parent new to a tournament team.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Please Don't ask Me if I Need Help

I am not writing this post because I think people don't care.  I am writing it for just the opposite reason.  I am writing this because I know people do care, but do not always know how to help.  I am also writing it because I know that many of us suffer from periods of anxiety, depression and just plain being overwhelmed, even if it is not a diagnosed condition. Sometimes, life is just hard and we need help, but in the right way.

When I am feeling overwhelmed, I have a tough time admitting it in more than a humorous way.  I post a funny meme or I make some side comment to my mom about needing 5 minutes to cry in the bathroom with some wine, but rarely do I really vent to many people about how out-of-control I feel at times.

When I do get to my breaking point and I finally share my feelings, I am often at a point that I do not know where to go or what do to next. I often need help, but I am not always sure what it is.  I know that sounds crazy, but as a person who has had post-partum depression and suffers from anxiety issues, I cannot always see clearly.

I am also, like many adults, a person who has a tough time asking for help with things that I should be able to handle.  I do not mind asking my family to watch my kids here and there, and I can even ask a friend to drive my son to school or practice without a problem.  Beyond that, however, it can be tough to admit that I need help with regular adult things, even when I do.

When I am overwhelmed, if you ask me if I need help, I will probably tell you, "no." Sure, part of it will be out of pride, but part of it will be because I literally can't figure out a good way for you to help. So, as someone who loves people who need help, what are you to do? My suggestion is to be specific and tell me what you are going to do. 

If you really want to help, tell me you are going to drop off dinner or that you are going to take a task off my plate. Tell me that you know that I need a night free from driving so you are going to take my son to baseball. Offer to watch my kids for a few hour so that I can clean. Make plans with me for happy hour so that I can relax and do not let me cancel. And, if you are so busy that you cannot physically help, send me a text that says that you love me and you are concerned. Let me know you will pray for me.

As much of a control-freak as I can be, sometimes I need someone else to be in control.  Asking leaves me in control. Telling me allows me to feel responsible for one less thing.

By the way, this is not meant to be selfish or lazy, it is meant to encourage that person who wants to help but feels unneeded. I promise, you are needed, the other person will appreciate your help, they just do not know how to ask. So, when you have a friend who just had a new baby or a death in the family or anything else that may cause stress in their lives, be specific and be firm. 

By the way, this goes two ways. When I can, I promise I will do the same for you. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Cute and Simple Idea for Teacher Appreciation

I am always looking for ideas that will show someone that I appreciate them without busting my own budget. For my daughter that goes to preschool, it can be hard to buy for multiple teachers without breaking the bank. This idea allowed me to give a small token of appreciation to each of the teachers in a creative way.

You could grow your gift by giving them  a more expensive gift card or keep it small by giving a $5 gift card so that they can buy themselves a cup of coffee and a donut.

If you hadn't read my previous post, I am a big dork who loves puns.  I looked up a few and joined them together to come up with this. I hope it helps you in your search for teacher appreciation ideas.

I'd like to give a big "thank you" to all of the teachers out there who give endless hours and patience to our children, not to mention some of their own financial resources. I wish I could buy them all the moon, but since I can't, I hope gift like this shows them that they are appreciated.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Day Light Savings Memes...

...Because sometimes you need to know you are not alone. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Living with a Toddler, My Toddler, My Independant Toddler

My daughter is two. VERY TWO.  She is every meme you have ever seen rolled into one.  I live on the corner of , "mommy, please hold me" and, "I no like that, mommy, leave my lone." You may know this place, it is in Toddlerville which lies just on the edge of Tantrumtown.

I recently saw something that said, I live in a house ruled by a tiny tyrant that I made.     Yup!

Each day starts out new and I am sure that I am going to deal better with her challenges.  I am sure this is the day that she is going to let me help her put her shoes on without a fight.  I hold on to the belief that today she will not pitch a fit about getting dressed. I even, naively, think that she might not create a delay on our way out the door.  I also allow false beliefs about myself such as the thought that I will not yell today.

Although my hopes are quickly dashed, they are dashed by an adorable face joined by a squeaky little voice that seems so excited to see me.  Somehow, this saves my sanity.

During the week, when I am at work, I spend my time wishing that I could spend more time with her.  I hate dropping her off and look forward to picking her up.  
I spend my weekends wondering how stay-at-home-moms do not end up in an insane asylum. Seriously, ladies, you are special people.

Sometimes I wonder how I can think this is so hard. I mean, I have done this before.  I have been through the toddler years, and I got through them with my sanity intact.  I wonder if it is because I am a few years older or because I now have sports, school and other activities going on with my older child. 

I also wonder if it is because my little princess is not like her brother before her. I am convinced that this is most of it. She is so much more strong-willed and independent. At least these are the words my pediatrician says I am supposed to use.  He also says she has moxie. I suppose that is one way to describe a two year old that can bring her mother to tears.

Before you comment, yes we discipline her. Yes, we are consistent. And, yes, we are firm.  but this child, this child is a slow learner.  Well, that's a lie, this child is choosing a tough path just to make sure I know where she stands.  Someday, this child who will undo do what I did just so she can do things her way, will be a leader.  Someday, she will pave new roads.  Someday, my girl will be a strong woman making her way in the world.

In the meantime, I am just going to have to hope I can make it through these years, even if it is with a little more grey and a few more wrinkles.  Thank goodness, God made her so funny and cute so that between falling on the floor screaming and tell me to, "stop talking",  I can enjoy her little laugh and her adorable little dances while she sings Baa Baa Black Sheep and Let it Go.

Oh, and if you were looking for any advice, my apologies. I do not have any today. I do have empathy for you and I can offer you a place to commiserate. We, parents of toddlers, need to stick together.


Friday, February 26, 2016

Adorable Edibles for Easter and Springtime

A friend sent me the below scone idea the other day which of course spiraled out of control into a 30  minute search for cute Easter ideas. Please tell me that I am not the only one goes off on these tangents. I am guessing that since Pinterest is so popular, I must be in good company with some one, right?

Anywho, here are my favorites from my search. I hope you find something that you like.

Chick Cheese Balls from Hungry Happenings

What? You do not think these are the cutest thing ever?
Do you have a heart?

Crescent Roll Carrots also from Hungry Happenings
These are so cute and could be filled with anything sweet or
savory.  I imagine you could sprinkle with seasonings or
cinnamon sugar afterwards.



Easy Easter Lamb Cake by Kraft Foods
Easy and adorable? I am in! This looks much easier than
the traditional lamb cake.

Hatching Chick Deviled Egg by Pop Sugar

These are actual eggs that look like
chicks popping out of eggs.
need I say more?


Easter Resurrection Rolls by a Pinch of Joy
I have made these with my kids a few times. If you are
religious they are a really cool way to discuss
Jesus in the tomb.


Easter Bunny Bread by Taste of Home
So admittedly this looks a like a Pinterest fail waiting
to happen, but I'd still love to try it.

Easter Bunny Pancakes by This Little Piggy Stayed Home
A pretty easy breakfast that my kids will
like and that cute tail...yes, please!

White Chocolate Pretzel Easter Egg Nests by Green Thumb White Apron

I just love the Springiness of these.

Easter Carrot Scones from Michael's
The recipe that started the search.  Crazy enough, I have
never made scones at home, but I may have to, now.


Monday, February 8, 2016

I Should Have Cried More at My College Graduation

I have a niece who is in her Freshman year at college and every time I talk to her or her mom, I seem to have memories flood back.  They are mostly of my tight knit group of work cohorts and amazing roommates but I am also reminded of some of the conveniences that I was too young to appreciate.  I am so happy with the life that I have now and I do not want to go backwards, but looking back, I wish I appreciated college enough to have offered it a proper good-bye. 

When I graduated college, I was headed to live with one of my best high school friends at the beach and then off to all of the exciting things that I just knew my future would hold.  I had plenty of college friends that would live close when the summer was over and being pretty close to school, I had planned to head back to visit and go to sporting events.

Little did I know that being an adult does not offer you the freedoms and conveniences that college does.   
I had not given enough thought to the fact that it sure is easy to squeeze in time with friends when you work and live with them or when going to happy hour with them simply includes a 5-10 minute walk. 
 I had not taken into account that I would not be able to get a free student ticket to go to the games or that driving and parking made it a bit more cumbersome.

More than just my social life, I did not appreciate college life.
I did not appreciate that an 8 am class twice a week was a piece of cake compared to being at work by 7:30 am 5 days a week with a commute that was quite a bit longer than the walk across campus.  And how tired I would be by the end of the week.
I did not think about how nice it was to have a two hour break between classes or that a thirty minute lunch break would not feel the same. 
I did not appreciate how great it was to go to the dining hall and just use my "points", especially at Maryland where there was a plethora of choices almost all day and a great salad bar. 

I also did not realize how easy friendship was in school (college or otherwise).  When you are forced with so many people, you are eventually going to make a few friends. Adulthood makes that a little harder unless you work in a place full of twenty-somethings.

Unfortunately, I did not realize any of this at the time so, instead of really mourning about the part of my life that was ending, I was unrealistically optimistic about how I would drag it out.  I made promises about visiting that I kept, but not as often as I planned.  People that I was sure I would see again ended up being faces that I was excited to see almost 10 years later when I found them on facebook. And, as life took over, people moved, families grew and schedules got busy, the people that I love become harder and harder to schedule in time with.

Less dramatic perhaps, the humdrum of life took over without my even realizing it.  Somehow my schedule still contained happy hours and ladies nights but much less of them.  My time got filled with work projects, household chores, bills and adulthood. Now, in the blink of an eye, I find that 15 years have passed and I have my own family and am giving advice to my college-aged niece.

As I said above, I would not change where my life is at all. I have a wonderful husband and kids that mean everything to me and I am even lucky enough to have a job that I feel good about with people that I like to work with. I just wish that somehow, when I left college, I would have realized what I was leaving enough to take the time to appreciate it and give it the proper mourning it deserved.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Non-Mushy Valentine Ideas to Give Out at School

I have not posted in a while because my life has been so busy of, well, life! Between holidays, family stuff, winter sports, a sprained ankle and a blizzard, my focus has been elsewhere.  However, with valentine's day fast approaching, my son and I started to think about what he could give out. 

He has gotten to an age where he is very worried about giving anything out that could be taken the wrong way.  He notices girls, but still acts like they have cooties. (By the way, I hope that lasts for a LONG time!)

He does not like anything personal, so with his self concussions in mind, here are some ideas that he and I found that seemed fairly safe. I hope one of them works for you

You Rock
I think something similar to this will be the winner.


For this one, we would probably write, "I hope your Valentine's Day Pops!" or I hope your Valentine's Day Blows your mind!"
I love pins, so I had to add this one.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Favorite Christmas Songs as an Adult

I have always loved Christmas Music. When I was little I can remember my parents playing it during the Christmas season and it brings back so many memories of our family decorating the tree.  As a child I loved songs like The Twelve Days of Christmas, Rudolph and Jingle Bells.  As a teenager, Santa Baby got added in. If you asked me to choose a more traditional, religious song, I would have chosen Silent Night or Away in a Manger.   Now that I have grown up (maybe) and love lyrics and tone more than I did as a child, my tastes have changed.

Here are a few of my favorite Christmas songs as an adult. I chose my favorite versions so you may see the same artist twice.  If you see a song or artist that you do not usually listen to, take a listen. Maybe you will find that your tastes have changed, also.  Maybe you will even add a few to your play list.

What are your favorite songs? Have you found that list has changed over time?  

*I added YouTube videos so that you could take a listen. If there was not an official version, I just chose whatever was avilable.  I am not reponsible for the creation of any of these videos.

When the Angels Sang - Reba McIntyre
This song really hit me a couple of years ago.  Like the song, I had gotten caught up in the commercial things and the stress was getting to me. I was headed into the mall when this song came on and like the softy that I am, I cried.

Baby It's Cold Outside  - Idina Menzel and Michael Buble'
I do not know if it is the back and forth or the playfulness in this song, but I just love to sing along to it. Believe it or not, the Glee version is also quite good.

Because It's Christmas - Barry Manilow
I know that Barry Manilow may not seem like an obvious Christmas choice, but his whole album is actually quite good. This song is one of my favorites.

Go Tell It On the Mountain - Garth Brooks
As I have gotten older, I tend to lean more toward the religious songs and the soul in this version just makes me happy.

Ave Maria - Luciano Pavarotti
This is my Dad's favorite as it was his mom's.  Growing up, when we would decorate the tree, at some point, my parents would play this song. When it came on, my dad would sit down and listen to it with his eyes closed. If you looked closely, you would see a tear run down his face.  At the time, I appreciated his love for his parents and his emotion, but not the actual song. Now, I love the song for what it means to my dad, but also for the song itself. If you prefer a different version, Josh Groban and Michael Buble' both have different, but great versions.

Mary Did You Know - Pentatonix
This song. This song.  Sigh. If you let yourself really think about the lyrics, wow!  If you really let yourself imagine what I would have been like for Mary it is overwhelming. The line that talks about kissing the face of God really amazes me.  This version is just beautiful. Reba's is also very good.

Don't Save It All for Christmas Day - Celine Dion
I know Celine is not everyone's favorite, but this is the first version that I heard of this song and I guess it stuck with me. I just love the message in this song.

Thankful - Josh Groban
Perhaps this is more of a Thanksgiving song that Christmas, but I think it sends a great message and is a great way to kick off the holiday season.

The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
Is there any more classic song than this? I guess I just had to grow up a little to appreciate it.

O Holy Night - Josh Groban
This has become my favorite Christmas song. There are so many great versions, but I just love this one.  That being said, I would listen to a whole CD of this song and I also love the versions by Mariah Carey, Jennifer Hudson (both incredible) and NSYNC (I know, I know but it's actually really good.)

Baby Jesus is Born - Garth Brooks
This song just makes me want to get up and sing and shout and join a gospel choir. If you need to get excited about Christmas, try listening to this.