Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Only Constant is Change

The only constant is change.  That’s it.  Every day, for the rest of our lives, the only thing I can guarantee anyone is change.

It’s kind of scary if you don’t embrace it.

In the past five years, I’ve experienced more change than I’ve experienced in my entire 35 years.  We moved to a different state, moved kids to a new school, Hubby has been through four jobs (he lost the first one, second was to pay the bills before he found another long term one, he found another long term one then was recruited by a better long term one), my sister moved in with us, and my parents divorced.

Did you follow all that?  Add in the day to day chaos and it’s been a long haul. 

I’m kind of waiting to wake up one day and have the reality of all we’ve experienced hit me in the face.  I’m shocked I haven’t had some sort of debilitating break down.  But here’s the thing….I’ve kept putting one foot in front of the other, marching. 

I march, and march, and march.

I never stop.

I remember when Hubby came home, devastated, and told me he lost his job.  We were shocked.  Blindsided.  We had just relocated. 

I let him be devastated, because it was his right.  He was upset, angry, confused and felt like a failure.  I understood.  But I knew none of that would fix the problem.  I was scared too, but never enough to break down.  We had what we needed.  We were healthy, we were together.  At the end of the day this was small potatoes.  This was fixable.  We would do no matter what it took to keep afloat. 

I wasn’t going to let that disappointment sink our ship. 

I do remember a few moments when I let my mind wander and worry about the future.  I remember worrying about never getting back on our feet.  Although I never allowed myself to think about it for long because again, that doesn’t fix anything.  When my parents split, I knew there was nothing I could do to change it.  I couldn't change them either.  All I could do was give love, give support and move forward. 

The present is the only place to live, because anything can happen. 

The only constant is change.

I’m not sure if I was just built in a way that enables me to constantly look forward, but I am very inclined to leave the past in the past.  It’s a blessing.  I feel like it’s a superpower.  I’m an “in the moment” mama.  I do what needs to be done and I learn from what we live through.  I have wonderful memories, and I try to make wonderful memories.  I try to teach my kids the same.  

Enjoy every minute.  Celebrate the past and look forward to the future. The bad times pave the way for better times. They teach us and mold us and make us stronger.

I needed to share more of our life in an online world that can tends to showcase “highlight reels” and leave much on the cutting room floor.  Life is messy, but it’s good.  There is so much beauty in every day, even when the day isn’t what you hoped.  If you focus on what you have, and not what you don’t have, there is a silver lining.

Through all the change, keep marching.  Always.  Never let anything sink your ship. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Homemade Peppermint Patties

Tis the season for baking. At least it is in my house.  I hold off on any uneccessary oven use until the summer heat subsides.  While these patties don't need an oven, they won't set well in a humid kitchen.  They make best, and transport best,  in the cooler temperatures.

This is one of my favorite desserts to make.  They are relatively easy, quick and they are delicious. It may take a few tries to get the mixture perfect for molding and dipping, but if you add the evaporated milk slowly and watch the consistency you should be successful.

Homemade Peppermint Patties:

1 32 oz bag confectioner sugar
4 Tbsp softened butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 cup evaporated milk
24 oz bag milk chocolate chips

Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper.  Set aside.

In large bowl combine first 4 ingredients.

Mix with large spoon to combine.  Add evaporated milk and mix well.  

Once the mixture is the consistency of playdoh, roll into 1-2 inch balls.  I always go for the larger patties, primarily because if I'm limiting myself to one, I want it to be satisfying.  There is always a method to my madness. 

Mixture cannot be crumbly.  This makes for disappointing dry patties that are difficult to dip.  Add a few drops of evaporated milk if dough balls are crumbling. 

Flatten dough ball and mold into patty.  Place on wax lined baking sheet.  

When all the patties are molded place trays in freezer for at least 30 minutes.  At this time I wash my hands and clean my work area.  While patties are freezing melt your chocolate.

If you are melting chocolate in the microwave, place all but 1/2 cup chips in a sturdy glass bowl.  Microwave on high for 30 second intervals.  Check and stir chips after each interval.  Once chips are 90% melted, remove and add in 1/2 cup chips.  Stir until chocolate is completely melted.  Should be smooth and creamy, and drip from fork or spoon.  Always make sure all bowls and utensils are dry when melting chocolate.  Even a tiny drop of water will cause chocolate to seize and harden. 

Remove one tray patties from freezer and begin dipping patties, one at a time, in chocolate with fork. 

Place patties back on wax lined (cold) tray after dipping.  This will help them set.  

Store patties in fridge and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


There is a term for kids who are unable to participate in sports due to failing grades.  It’s called ineligibility.  This is the definition from the “Free Dictionary” online:

Disqualified.  Unworthy.  Unfit.  None of this sounds like something any child should be associated with.

Let me pause and say there are other reasons kids become ineligible, such as being absent the day of a game.  But mostly, ineligibility is associated with failing grades or suspensions.  As an athletics secretary, I check eligibility every Thursday.  I look for the highlighted names of kids who are failing 2.5 classes or more.  I cross reference these names with my rosters.  I contact the teachers to make sure the grades are the most up to date, and then we call coaches. 

You’d be surprised by the grades I see; a 20 in Algebra, a 9 in World Cultures. 

Yes, you read that right. Students can do so little work they have a 9 in a class.  That’s almost hard to do.  Show up and hand in homework and you’ll have higher than that.  You may be able to get higher than that by just showing up.

My son’s Junior Varsity football team just played their second game this past Monday.  Kids were already ineligible, just three and a half weeks into school.  Unfortunately two of these kids are pretty good players, and not having them was a big hit to the team.  If they were playing the game might have had a different outcome.  It made me think about how if I was on that football team, I’d be pretty disappointed.  Part of being on a team is being able to rely on your teammates. 

Teams only work when every player is invested and working just as hard as the next guy.  This applies on and off the field. 

I know there are kids who don’t have it as easy as other kids.  I know there are kids who have a sh*t deal at home. I’m a huge advocate of getting kids involved because it gives them something to care about.  Clubs, teams and activities such as school plays give them a purpose during a pretty confusing time in their lives.   

But there are always those kids that still don’t care.  For whatever reason, what they lose by not putting effort into school doesn’t matter.  It’s a shame, because there are many kids who would give anything to have the natural talent some of these kids have.  There are kids, like my older son, who have to work extremely hard to earn their spot on the field.  I had “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work” inscribed on his first ipod. 

It’s always been my reminder to him that he is in charge of his journey. 

There is always a way to better a situation.  Even if a student fails a class, or falls behind, there is a way.  I beg anyone and everyone who has the ability to influence these kids to ask them about their grades.  Ask if they went to school, or if they need a ride.  Let them know someone cares.  Hold them accountable.  In many instances it takes a different voice to get through to them.  Maybe their parents are checking work and trying to get through and they just can’t; maybe the kid just wants to know someone notices the struggle.

Notice.  Make them feel like they matter.  Encourage them to keep working and keep striving for greatness.

Maybe none of it will matter, but keep trying.  In order to be a success, on or off the field, you need to be eligible.

In life we need to show up.  If you need help, ask.  If you’re struggling in class see the teacher.  These are important lessons every child needs to learn.  

When you know better, you do better.  Teach this to your kids and their friends.  These kids need to understand they are in charge of their life story, and “unworthy, or unfit” need not be part of their definition. 

Happy Weekend all.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Cinnabun Cake

I'm all about cinnamon rolls.  I make them every Christmas morning, and I've never been known to pass up a good sticky bun.

The only trouble with making cinnamon rolls is that if you go the homemade route, which is really the only way to go (sorry Pillsbury), they are time consuming.  They take time and effort and patience.  My solution to this problem?

Cinnabun Cake.

This cake doesn't take the place of a real cinnamon bun, but it certainly satisfies the craving.  It's also easy to make and great to bring along to parties when the brownies are gettin' old.   I had this cake baked and ready in forty five minutes, which is ideal when you need a dessert for a party in an hour.


3 cups flour
Dash salt
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 ½ cups milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
½ cup butter, melted


1 cup butter, soft
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon


2 cups confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
5 tablespoons milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease 9x13 pan.

Blend first 7 ingredients for cake together (keep butter aside).  Add butter and mix well.  Pour into 9x13 pan.  Set aside and make topping.

Mix all ingredients for topping together and gently spread over top of cake.  Using a butter knife, swirl the topping into the cake. 

Bake 28-30 minutes.

While cake is baking prepare glaze. 

Remove cake from oven when toothpick inserted into center is dry.  Above is cake before glaze. 

Glaze cake while still warm.  

I promise this cake won't last more than a day or two, depending how many hungry mouths are in the house. 

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Cheer Squad

A few weeks ago, I heard there was no coach for the cheer squad that cheers for my son’s football team.  They had plenty of girls signed up, no coach.  I’m a sucker for kids, especially kids who are trying to be active and involved.

Fast forward to today, and I’ve been coaching this team along with my sister and “Cheer Dad” since the beginning of August.  Cheer Dad is a veteran who missed many years with his daughter due to his three tours in Iraq.  Since his daughter is the only one of his kids participating in sports, he coaches what she chooses to do. Even if she chooses cheer.  He can’t teach cheers because of an injury he sustained while in Iraq, but he can lead warm ups and discipline.  The three of us each found our place; me coaching practices, my sister running the games and Cheer Dad running warm ups, helping at games and other small details like pompom storage.

I have no idea why I dig my stress hole so deep, especially when I don’t even have kids involved in cheer.  I have four kids; two football players and one gymnast.  My youngest daughter wanted to try soccer, but we were holding out until spring. 

I work full time (er, ¾ time) and I’m constantly on the go.  My time is spread so thin some days with all the homework and activities I feel like my house is falling apart around me.  Laundry piles high in the basement and crumbs pepper the floors.  I remember wondering how in the heck I was going to coach a cheer team.  And not just any cheer team, a team I had no kids on. 

Although I’m a huge believer of the ole’ “where there is a will there is way.”  I’ve been found many a night destroying something because I’m determined to fix it.  #Nevergiveup.

The first week of practice, I was a little worried I took on more than I could handle.  I was trying to get my kids where they needed to be and what they needed for back to school.  It was hot and sticky.  I didn’t know the cheers.  My sister and I would sit in the kitchen excited about the cheers we learned at practice only to get home and completely brain fart.

I had to drag my youngest daughter to cheer.  She wasn’t thrilled.  The girls were older than her and she wasn't interested. She complained for snacks and drinks and somewhere else to be.

I felt like I was missing out on watching my son practice.  I missed the chats with my football mom friends.  I was beginning to worry my decision to coach was going to be a huge time-sucking disaster.

And then something happened.

My youngest daughter asked to get in line one day during stretches.  I encouraged her to join the group.  After three practices we had her a uniform and the title of “mascot.”  She began to ask about practices.  She was excited to be a part of something that didn’t involve her siblings.  She realized for the next few weeks this could be “her thing.” 

And in turn it became “our thing.”  Along with her Aunt of course.

As I got to know the cheerleaders better, they all began to grow on me.  Practice went from something I was worried I couldn’t handle to something I felt good about.  I could see them improving, and I could see many of them enjoying learning and growing as a team.  My sister and I sit and talk cheer, laughing and discussing practices.  We can be found many nights working on the halftime routine in the living room.

We had our first game this past Sunday.  My deal with my sister and Cheer Dad was that I would run practices but at the games I would be between football and cheer.  I wasn’t going to give up seeing any of my son’s games.  By not running the squad at games, I could watch my son play and my youngest cheer. I can help when needed but still have the freedom to watch the game.

This past Sunday the girls cheered loud and strong, and I left the field feeling extremely proud.  I felt a sense of accomplishment, and I felt like I had done a wonderful thing despite my reservations and worries.  The girls worked hard and looked great.  They are out there, experiencing what it feels like to be on a team.

Yes there are parents that drive me batty and I wonder why more people can’t step up and volunteer.  Unfortunately I see the same families coaching and sitting on boards every season.  My husband is over on the football field, and I’m not over on the cheer field.  And all I think of is that in order for these programs to continue and be successful, parents need to step up.

Which is why I did.

This experience has made me even more passionate about being patient and kind.  If you can’t step up, be a supporter.  Ask what needs to be done.  If you’re unhappy about something, remember first and foremost we are VOLUNTEERS.  We are busy too, and we are trying our best.

Luckily for kids all over America, it’s the faces of the kids that make every minute worth it.  Even one thank you from a parent can wash away the three complaints the day before.

Thanks to all the parents out there who are coaching, volunteering or simply supporting recreation programs.  It makes a difference.  It really does.