Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Why Some Men Shouldn't be Allowed to Coach Little League

Last night my eight year old son played his second tournament game.  We're small town, and every town that borders us is a rival of some sort.  The team we played last night is from the town I hear the most griping about when it comes to athletics.

I'll clarify that it isn't the town or the bulk of the people in it I hear about, it's always a few select assh*ole coaches that ruin the fun for everyone.

Last night I had the privilege of watching one firsthand.

I'll remind everyone my younger son is eight.  He's on the younger end of the spectrum but no boy is older than ten.  This is minors.  Not majors, not juniors, not Junior Varsity or Varsity.  Minors.  Truthfully the boys don't even play 100% "real" baseball yet, there are rules such as the coach coming in to pitch if a run will be "walked" in.  

All the rules are to keep the game moving as smoothly as possible since there are players who are very new to playing anything other than coach pitch.  The rules also keep parents from sticking needles in our eyes as teams score run after run after run while three outfielders watch butterflies and count blades of grass.

The man coaching the team we played last night behaved in an incredibly disappointing manner.  He was focused on winning, so much so he didn't care how his players felt when he screamed.

When he yelled.

When he scolded the entire dugout so loudly we could hear every word.  "I don't care what the fox says! If you aren't talking about baseball in this dugout I don't want to hear your mouth!"

Let's be honest, everyone cares what the fox says.  

Along with yelling, scolding, and telling a player to lean into a pitch (I'm assuming he wanted a baserunner on that one) he had our teams playing well past the two hour limit.  These little boys had school the next day, some waiting for supper because they only had a snack before the game, and yet we played until 8:30pm.

It's tough to play coaches like him.  The atmosphere makes parents aggressive and angry, and all of a sudden everyone is wrapped up in excessive celebration if a boy strikes out.  Parents cheer when boys make mistakes and drop baseballs.  We do it all because we just love to stuff it in that coaches face.

But all we're hurting are these little boys who are still learning how to play.  They're still learning where to throw the ball and when they have to tag a runner.  Imagine how terrible to be a child and hear grown adults cheering when you miss a ball?  Or strikeout?  It's not easy to go to practice after school and miss sleepovers for games on the weekends.  These kids should be celebrated and encouraged for even lacing up those cleats and giving baseball a try; not berated for losing a game that matters just about zero in the grand scheme of things.

I am confident in saying my son will never play for a coach who treats his players the way this coach treated his players last night.  It will be a cold day in hell before a grown man screams at my son for being eight.


Because that's exactly what was happening in that dugout.

Yes, we all want to win.  Yes, I think boys on varsity teams are open game to be yelled at for wondering what the fox says.  There is a time and a place for tough coaching, and little league minors isn't it.

Cheers to all the fabulous dads and moms who volunteer their time and make playing on teams positive experiences for these impressionable kids.  Coaching a team is about celebrating accomplishments and showing kids by example how to handle their disappointments.  It's about teaching kids to love the game and appreciate how special it is to be on a team.

This week I'm sending a shout out to the good ones; to the ones who put the kids before the team's record.  After all, these kids have their whole lives to be yelled at and to take things seriously.  I'll give you the high school athletes, even the middle schoolers.  Make them run laps and yell at them to make a play when they're slacking off on the field.  Those kids should have a pretty solid idea how to play the game and be competitive.

But the players who still watch Disney Junior when no one is watching?  Not cool man.  Not cool.  

Have a fab Thursday!




Monday, May 26, 2014

Cookies and Cream Cake

Lately I've had a strange obsession with Jello.  I've been combing the selection at the supermarket wracking my brains for any reason what-so-ever to buy a package of Jello.

My munchkins turn their noses up at Jello Cakes.

They also don't understand that a huge bowl of pudding is really the same pudding they are eating out of those individual containers.

Hence the wracking of my mommy brain trying to find a reason to buy a package of Jello.

But when I saw the Cookies 'n Creme flavor I just couldn't resist.  I had to splurge on something I didn't need.

I placed the Jello on my stove.  I left it out where I leave all "to bake" items.  And after walking by it a few times I had a flash of brilliance.

I would make a cake.  And it would be fabulous.

And that is the story behind how my Cookies 'n Creme cake was born.  Mix a Jello obsession with a fierce determination to utilize something I completely had no reason to purchase and you get cake.

Let me rephrase.  You get AWESOME cake.

Mommyhood's Cookies 'n Creme Cake

1 box white cake mix, prepared
1 box cookies n' creme Jello
1/3 cup milk
1 container vanilla or chocolate frosting
1 package Oreos


Line 9x13 dish with non-stick foil.  Grease and flour.

Prepare cake mix according to package directions.  Add jello and 1/3 cup milk.  Stir until well combined.

Pour into baking dish.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  Check center with toothpick.  When toothpick comes out clean remove cake and cool completely.

Once cake is cooled, turn upside down and remove from pan.  Carefully peel away foil.

Frost with preferred icing.

Carefully slice 12-14 Oreos into halves.  Set aside.

Place another 10-15 Oreos in Ziplock bag (depending on how much "Cookie Crunch" you desire) and smash with preferred kitchen utensil.

I always turn to my favorite utensil, the good 'ole ice cream scoop.

Sprinkle cookie crumbs over top of cake.

Use halved Oreos to line edges of cake.

Enjoy, and Happy Memorial Day!

**From the archives.**

Thursday, May 22, 2014

I'm still Cheesy Corny Mom. Thank the Lord.

Today something miraculous happened.  My baby graduated preschool.  I'm sitting here thinking about how this could possibly have just happened.  I swear the last time I looked at her long and good she looked like this:
For the record those are preemie clothes.  Pinch me now and grab me tissues.

Truthfully, when I finally sat in my seat with my two boys for graduation I was in 4th child mode.  I rushed to iron the dress she wore, it was a precious hand-me-down from her older sister, and we arrived ten minutes late.  All of this with my boys constantly touching eachother (anyone else have boys? anyone? why can't they just NOT touch eachother?) and I was a little out of the moment.

Until of course, everything started. I was catapulted back into cheesy mom mode, and my eyes filled with tears as my baby flashed on that slideshow as "What a Wonderful World" played over the loud speakers.

Relief washed over me.  Four preschool graduations in and I am still cheesy.  Hallelujah I thought I lost my touch.

To add salt to the wounds, on the way to the car, I was walking behind my oldest and my youngest.  They have a happy harmony that doesn't involve chaos, poking each other, fishhooks in the mouth or any competition what-so-ever.  
Not only do I cherish this sibling love, I look to the left at my oldest and it makes seeing my youngest graduate preschool not so bad.  I can vividly remember pulling away from the school the first day I dropped him off at kindergarten.  I felt like my heart was being ripped from my chest.  Literally.  I drove away in tears wondering if I should just go into the school and tell the teacher we won't be needing kindergarten this year.

I didn't.  Looking back I think it wasn't such a bad idea. 

In two weeks he'll finish 7th grade,  and he's taller than I am.  He weighs more too.  He is a nonstop eating and growing machine, and I have no way of slowing him down.

Just like I have no way of slowing my youngest down.  

All I can do is enjoy.  Every.  Single.  Minute.  

Even the crappy fishhook stuff.  It's all part of the journey.

Cheers Mamas!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tuesday Perspectives

Yesterday I went jogging for the first time in over a week.  Working has been an adjustment, and I've had zero desire to do anything other than get my house in order every free minute I'm home.  And if I'm not getting my house in order I'm sitting, doing nothing, and loving every minute of the nothingness.

Jogging brings me such clarity; the fresh air, the time alone, music in my ears.  It's a soul cleanser.  I thought about what my kids were up to and what summer would bring.  So much excitement this time of year.  

What never ceases to amaze me is that no matter is happening in my life, I am only as happy as my unhappiest child.  My days are centered around what is happening in our family, and if my oldest son is struggling at the plate in baseball, that's what consumes me.  Not the bills or the broken dishwasher, but him and his well being.  His desire to do better and how to get him there.  

And at his games?  One double down the third baseline means more to me than anything that is unpaid, anything that needs repair or anyone that might not like me much at the moment.  

One new gymnastics skill makes me feel the same.  So does a good report card or news that one of my kids did something worth noting in school.

In one day, there is so much crap we have to deal with; bills, insurance, people, the yard, the house...the list goes on and on.  Yesterday as I ran, I realized the crap I deal with never overshadows what means the most to me in my life.  I'm proud of that.  I'm proud that a smile on my kid's face holds that value.  It should.  

The little stuff needs to be the big stuff.  Life is too short.  I'm hopeful that my footprint, at the end of the day, is full of love and life.  My family and my friends are stationed well above anything I don't have, can't buy and need to fix.  I'm blessed beyond comprehension, and I'm surrounded by a richness that money can't buy.

It makes everything money can buy less enticing, which is good because I can't afford much of it anyway!

I try to look at everything that has the potential to really bother me in one way:

"Will this matter one year from now?"

If it won't, I try to let it go.  Breathe and move on.  Or, at the very least, deal with it and not carry the annoyance with me.  I try to teach my kids the same.  Perspective is so vital to happiness, and if my home is happy, healthy and safe, I'm good.

What about you?

Happy Tuesday all! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Father's Day Gift Idea: The Burly Stone

Father's Day is approaching.  I can't even believe it.  Winter felt like it was a zillion light years long and spring has flown by in the blink of an eye.  Must have something to do with the sunshine.

Every year, I post my "go- to" Father's Day gift, the framed "All About Dad."  I love that gift.  It's adorable and a definite win if you have little kids.  Another plus?  It's inexpensive.

If you have older kids, or you're looking for something a little different this year to add to the homemade goodies, try the Burly Stone.  

The Burly Stone sells handcrafted soaps, and the soap is the real deal.  It's the good stuff that lathers and smells good.  The kind that you go in the bathroom and you know someone showered.

I love it.  Even better?  You can't find it in a store, so it's a guaranteed surprise.

Hubby showers a minimum of twice a day and he is picky about soap.  He prefers bars of soap, and he appreciates better quality products.  I have brothers who are the same.  I also know that none of them would think to spend money on handmade soaps.  

These soaps are JUST FOR MEN.  They're fun too.  I love that the scents are tailored to what "type" of man you're buying for:  The Camper, The Yard Machine and my Hubby's favorite; The Jock.  The bars are jumbo sized; The Jock bar that we have is at least triple the size of a standard bar of soap.  We cut it in half and I guarantee it will last weeks.  

I love supporting small businesses, and I truly feel you get something special you can't find in large corporations.  You get that personal touch and that's exactly how I felt with the Burly Stone.

If you check out the online store, you can view all the different types of soaps available.  If you can't decide, you can do a sampler pack for $15.  I love sampler packs because I can never make up my mind.  If you are on Facebook, you can "like" the Burly Stone to see product updates, reviews and more.

What kind of gifts do you give for Father's Day?  Share with me, I always love ideas for those hard to buy for men!

Cheers and happy Monday!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Working Mama

For the past four days, I've been up at dawn and putting on something other than jeans.  I never thought I'd see the day.

A few months ago, I was hired as a Unit Desk Clerk at the hospital.  Even better?  I'm in the maternity ward. If I could pick any job in the hospital, I would be a "Baby Holder" in the nursery.  After that, a nurse in the nursery. Since I'm fairly certain there is no such job as "Baby Holder", and I have no nursing degree, I was pretty stoked when I heard I was hired as a desk clerk.

So far, I've learned medical terminology, codes and other lingo.  I've also learned how to work the door and let people in. Yay me!

I'm training for a solid several weeks, and during training I work four days a week.  Once I'm on my own, I will only be three days a week.  Three days is perfect with the kids still in need of basic care such as lunches, rides and homework.  I'm also home by the time any after school activities kick in, which was the main reason I took this job.

It feels pretty nice to get up and out, and have a function other than child rearing and house cleaning.  And then again, I sit at work with urges to be house cleaning and child rearing.  I'm realizing it's all about balance.  Work will be good for me, and it will be good for the rest of the house because they will have to learn how to handle more than they handle now.  Hubby has already had to manage birthday cake order and pick up and getting everyone to school.  I've been having to handle waking up at 5:30am and making my brain work.

It's been going well.  Fingers crossed.

Happy weekend!  Enjoy it!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday Things

I started a new job Monday.  Just trying to explain where I've disappeared to these past few days.  I'm hopping on the computer before I tuck my tired eyes in to say I've missed you all dearly.

And my older daughter turned eleven today.  Love that girl.  She has inspired me on a daily basis, handling her scoliosis with pure grace.  She works hard in the gym, has a heart of gold and fills us with joy.

I'll be back this weekend.  I'll contemplate all the differences working and staying home, wearing pants that aren't denim and using my brain for something other than remembering lunches, bills and to switch the wash.

Cheers! 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Winning Machine

This weekend was a complete whirlwind.  Errands, baseball and then off to gymnastics for my daughter's state meet.  Her start time was 8am this morning, and the meet was two hours and forty minutes away.  We left late yesterday afternoon after baseball and checked into our hotel at 7pm last night.

Thank goodness the beds were comfortable.

My daughter didn't place on any event this year at states.  It's tough, you work all year for this one chance at a state medal, and some years you get it (last) and some years you don't (this).  To keep everything in perspective, we focus on achievements.  It's too easy to get caught up in the "winning" machine.  She had two personal bests (bars and vault) and she did everything we hoped she would do; she didn't fall on any event, hit all her skills and had her highest All Around score of the season.  

It's not easy to go to a meet without teammates (she was the only 10 year old in the level in her gym) and sleep away from home.  It's not easy to do tucks, flyaways and full turns on a balance beam.  Gymnastics is like any other sport, and you're only going to be as good as the girls you go up against.  Going up against easier gyms and winning the gold doesn't make you a better gymnast.  In my eyes, it's tougher to go up against the best and take your chances.  

Would a 9.125 on bars have won a different meet?  Absolutely.  But at states, with the best of the best, it didn't place.  That's the way the cookie crumbles, and it forces the gymnast to keep working.  Keep achieving.  Keep moving forward.

Wouldn't it be a different world if we all had that approach?

Winning doesn't always mean you're more talented.  With anything competitive, you have to keep the focus on achieving.  As my daughter's old coach said, "there will always be someone better."  Isn't that the truth. 

This is the only picture I have of my daughter at states.  Nerves got the best of us, and other than videos of her routines, we captured nothing.  

This is my baby sleeping in the car ride to the meet.  Bless her little hard working, free time sacrificing heart. 

To top off my crazy busy weekend?  Arriving home to a clean house (thanks mom!) and a kitchen table peppered with cards and handmade gifts from my babies.  Nothing but love tonight, nothing but love.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Thoughts on Mother's Day

Mother's Day.  It's this Sunday.  Remind your families.  

Truthfully I feel whoever was in charge of creating Mother's Day did the whole thing ass backwards.  If someone really wanted to treat us moms they would have made Mother's Day on a Wednesday.  If I'm getting a break I'd rather it be on a day when homework is in the folder, lunches need to be made, bedtimes need to be enforced and order needs to be kept.  Even if I had to go to work I would still be happy to hand over the house chaos for a day.  Imagine just leaving for work and having an understanding that the house would run without you doing a thing for the whole day?

Now that's Mother's Day.

While I'm at it, businesses should offer free cocktails at lunch and dinner, and ice cream joints should offer free sundaes.  Lunch "hour" should be two hours long.  For one day, the world could handle it.  

My other issue with Mother's Day is the whole brunch scenario.  Don't get me wrong, I love brunch.  But on Mother's Day?  Those are only fun for mom if the kids are self sufficient and no one needs diapers, bottles, coloring books or toy cars.  It's only fun if the kids can use the bathroom alone and no one is emptying sugar packets all over the table.

I waited tables, I've seen it firsthand.  Moms of little ones would rather go out with friends and leave dad home with the kids if they were really looking for a break.  I'm sorry, but it's true.  Taking a mom of little ones out for a brunch with her little ones defeats the purpose of Mother's Day.  All that is is taking her work on the road. 

Hubby, our kids can handle eating out so this currently DOES NOT apply to us.  It's one of the bonuses of not having babies anymore.

The older I get the more I see the value in Mother's Day.  A day when my kids are supposed to say yes and Hubby is supposed to clean the kitchen.  Or toss in some laundry.  I love the handmade cards from my maniacs and the general love that pours out of them when they give me their gifts.

I joke and say that every day is Father's Day, but what it really means is men don't carry the worry moms carry.  They don't stay awake thinking about birthday gifts, lunches, field trips and who has clean underwear.  It's just not the same.  I don't think my kids have ever woke Hubby in the middle of the night for a bad dream.  Or puke.  Or for nightlights.  

I'm the side of the bed they meander to, and 99% of the time I'm good with it.  I've earned that badge.  The other 1% of the time I roll over and whack Hubby to get up.  He always does.

What I'm trying to say is that we deserve a day.  We do.  And if there are any husband's reading this, don't torture your wife with a brunch with three little babies and then go home and act like you celebrated.  Man up.  Send your wife to eat with her friends, and while she's there clean the house.  If you do take a mom out with her kids, I forbid you to sit her next them.  Someone else has to cut the food and wipe the hands, or it doesn't count.  Most importantly? Mom gets to eat her food before it gets cold. 

Now that's Mother's Day.  

Happy Thursday all!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Opening Day with Stouffers (and enter to win $100 Visa Giftcard!)

This past month, along with start of Little League season, we had our "Opening Day" ceremonies.  Opening Day started at 10am and the ceremony continued through lunch.  From there the teams headed out to their games.  The day wasn't finished until the last team played their last out, which took a very long time.

We had two games, one for each of our players and we spent any free time we had watching friends play.  We spent a total of nine hours on ball fields.  The girls played on the playground and with other tiny spectators.  We enjoyed seeing all the families we know and watching the boys play.  We traveled from field to field and made many trips to the bathrooms and the snack bars.

It's important to me that my girls join us when we have events such as Opening Day, because it becomes a family affair.  We encourage our kids to support each other, and that means sometimes giving up play dates and sleepovers.  We gave the kids money for raffle tickets and we packed snacks and drinks.  I walked them over to the playground and we enjoyed time together.  We knew going into Opening Day we'd be gone for many hours, and hand wipes and patience are a necessity.


After a long day of eating snack bar food the LAST thing we felt like eating for dinner was fast food.  Trouble was, the last thing I felt like doing was going to the store and preparing a big meal.  We all returned home hungry and tired, MOM included.  This year, I was blessed to have a family sized Stouffer's Lasagna with Meat and Sauce in the freezer and we continued our family time with a delicious dinner at home. We walked in the door exhausted and in just over an hour we enjoyed a meal with no preservatives and real mozzarella cheese that tasted homemade.


This time of year we are constantly in and out, headed to practices and games.  While frozen meals may not work for everyone, on busy days they work for us.  Stouffer's has many dinner options, and I feel better feeding my kids their meals than heading for the drive-thru.  The food tastes fresh and I know it's made with quality ingredients.  On days like Opening Day, or days we have to finish homework and get in the car for baseball or gymnastics, I'm glad I have Stouffer's in the freezer.

If you're out and about like we are, try Stouffer's for dinner.  There is also the Stouffer’s Meat Lovers Lasagna for that meaty craving. I'm including some great moneysaving coupons below.  Wishing you an abundance of time with your families this spring and summer!

Product: Stouffer’s Family Size Lasagna with Meat & Sauce Coupon

Coupon Value: $1.50 off (1) STOUFFER'S Family, Entree

Link: Click here for coupon


 Product: Stouffer’s Family Size Meat Lovers Lasagna

Coupon Value: $1.50 off (1) STOUFFER'S Family, EntrĂ©e

Link: Click here for coupon

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Monday, May 5, 2014

The Dirty Girl Mud Run

There's a girls only run that circles around the United States called the "Dirty Girl."  You've probably heard of it.  It's a 5K, peppered with obstacles along the way that have you walking in, climbing over and crawling through mud.

Towards the end of the run there was portion I waded, waist deep, through filthy brown water.  Never before would I ever have considered doing that for fun.  But yesterday, at my first Dirty Girl, it was just another laugh.

One of my girlfriends put together a team of mamas from our town and we all drove out together.  There were first timers, second timers, crossfitt-ers, runners, YMCAers, and everything in between.  Dirty Girl Mud Runs are about getting away from the daily grind and letting loose.  It's about letting someone cheer you on for once, and laughing with friends as you do things you never thought you'd ever do for fun.


Ever.

We arrived at the Dirty Girl race and the wind was gusting.  We all stood around freezing until our wave went off, and we forgot about laundry, wind, muffin tops and bills that need to be paid.  Every woman there was there to have a good time, us included.  I stayed with my bestie, and one of her friends from the gym.  We jogged, walked and talked the whole way.  Afterwards, covered in mud, we made our way to the rinse station.  I bypassed the hoses, because my hands were so cold they could barely untie my shoes.  I'm thinking undressing after the race should be part of the race, because it was harder to get my socks off my feet than it was to climb some of those walls.

I'm sharing my Dirty Girl experience because I don't want other women to be afraid to try one.  You aren't timed, you can go around any obstacle that you don't feel safe participating in and many women walk.  Truthfully, all women have to walk at times because the mud and terrain make running impossible.  You can go as fast or as slow as you want, no pressure to be fit and the first one across the line.

If you decide to join a mud run:

I highly recommend wearing clothes that won't weigh you down, because the mud most definitely will.  Also, even with spandex, WEAR UNDIES!  I mean granny panties.  These are going to protect your privates and go directly in the trash.  

I recommend bringing.... a garbage bag, an extra set of clothes/shoes, two towels (one to set your clean clothes and shoes on and one to stay warm/clean off), and PLENTY of baby wipes.  I even had a large bottle of water that I used to dump all over my hands before I touched anything in my bag.  

When you return home?  Hose the clothes well before you toss them into the wash.  Trust me on that one.  You wouldn't believe the chunks of mud I sprayed off my socks.

Happy Monday everyone!  Do something for yourself this week!!! 

Cheers!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Free Disney Dining

Hello fellow Disney lovers.  I have big news.  Free Dining is back.

The catch here is you have to be a Disney Visa Cardholder to book before 5/7, but I can promise you the perks with this year's Free Dining will be well worth the credit inquiry.  Along with FREE Disney Dining on your next vacation (if you travel in the travel windows listed below), you receive a free 5x7 picture with a character at Epcot's Innovations West Pavilion and you pay no interest on Disney vacations as long as they are paid off in six months.  

Very cool.

As long as you book and put the deposit on your Disney Visa, you can pay off the balance with any card.  As always, check with Disney because all offers are always subject to change and sometimes, very rarely (*wink*), I have information mixed up.  

I'm only human ya know.

Offer goes out to the general public on 5/7, so no need to get your panties in a twist if you don't want to be a Disney Visa Cardholder.

With all that said, here are all the deets on the Free Dining...



Book between May 7th and August 14th.
Those staying in Value Resorts will get free Basic Disney Dining, Moderate and Deluxe Resorts get free Plus Disney Dining. All plans can be upgraded from Basic to Plus and Plus to Deluxe.
Numbers of rooms allocated for this discount are limited.
To receive free dining you must be purchase a resort package with a minimum of 3 night stay and 2 day park ticket.
Here are the travel arrival dates:
August 31-October 3
October 26- November 1
November 9-November 20
December 12-December 23
The following resorts are excluded:
All-Star Movies, Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter, Grand Floridian Villas, Fort Wilderness Campsites, Art of Animation Little Mermaid Rooms and all 3 Bedroom Villas.
A Room Only Discount will also be available for travel between 8/16 – 10/3.
For any overhwhelmed family who would prefer a travel agent, I love the people over at Destinations in Florida.  They know their stuff.  Grab a free quote if it makes you feel better.
And of course, don't go to Disney without reading my book, (available on ebook as well) Walt Disney World Tips n' Tricks.  It has all the goodies you need to know as well as great preparing, packing and staying sane tips.