Category Archives: kids

Stop Stealing Dreams: What Are Sports For?

Seth Godin wrote a manifesto called Stop Stealing Dreams: What is School For? and it was shared millions of times. He spoke at TedxYouth about the future of education, how we reward kids, and what we can do better. Both posts are worth diving into.

I love athletics. I know this doesn’t surprise you 🙂

So many life lessons.

It’s a shame more kids don’t get the chance to experience them.

My competitive streak still comes out when I’m running and have to catch that guy in front of me, when I’m sprinting down the soccer field and just can’t get there quite as easily as before, or when my children play the long-standing rival.

With age, sore knees, and raising children, perspective grows. When your child plays, there’s an opportunity to reflect on the point of it all.

Growing up I accepted the “cuts,” the “sorry, you’re not good enoughs,” the “varsity players vs. the junior varsity players” because, well, I didn’t get cut. (I considered it a shame math class didn’t make cuts.)

Until one day I did get cut. I was 15 and willing to quit track to wear a Westside cheerleading uniform. Rejection was a phone call. “Sorry, you didn’t make it.” As I sat gloomily in the kitchen, I imagined my try-out buddy getting picked up by all the popular senior cheerleaders and celebrated with vaseline in her hair, marker on their face, and other humiliations. Lucky! 

My mother considers this a blessing.

I was cut again in college. The list was posted outside the cross-country coach’s door after a grueling run on a freezing cold Idaho morning before the sun was even up. No conversation, just my name missing from the posted list.

That was TWENTY YEARS ago this fall and I can still feel the sting. I can still smell the cold Idaho air and the faint whiff of cow. I can still see the stars that twinkled on that morning. I can still remember what I prayed for…God, please let me run fast, please let me make this team. Please help me run my best.

I didn’t.

This is the stuff that stays with you.

Alas, not everyone can play or run on a college level, but by that time I could scrape my dreams off the Idaho track and keep going.

But for the kid who gets cut too early? That’s stealing dreams.

DSC_0407That’s not to say we shouldn’t strive for a high level of play.

That’s also not to say there shouldn’t be tiers.

But for every kid who wants to play, let them play.

This fall, Cope tried out for the girls varsity team soccer team. She was so scared she almost bailed. I pushed. Don’t not do it because you’re scared. That’s something you’ll always regret. 

After a week of a grueling two-a-day preseason, her name was on the list. “I can’t believe I made it,” she said, dazed. She’s young. She acknowledges she has to work on her ball handling.

You know why she made the team? The coach rewarded her preseason “hustle.”

Life lesson = guts matter. Grit trumps talent. Hard works = dreams come true.

I weep. I thank my lucky stars for such a coach.

AliciaslidesThis isn’t Cope – it’s Alicia. And it’s just a sweet shot. Um, you want to talk about grit and lessons on the field?

DSC_0413I love this photo. When Cope was devastated after a game (she’s incredibly hard on herself) this awesome team rallied.

(you wouldn’t believe how much begging I had to do for Cope to let me post this pic:)

Mentorship, compassion, kindness, love, courage, resilience

Life lessons right there on the soccer field

nelson And then there’s this guy. Lucky boy, he got his mom for a coach this year. (And once again I feel terrible because it’s really hard to coach and get good pictures of him.)

This year was a life-changing year. All summer he worked his tail off. He was obsessed with the world cup and Messi, watched his Youtube soccer videos, read about “the greatest soccer player in the world,” inspired that Messi is only 5’7.”

He practiced and practiced and practiced. He was never without a soccer ball. Okay, he did sleep. Once.

He started playing with me at summer soccer. Gerry, a boy’s varsity soccer captain went out of his way to make my boy feel good about his game. Free, life-changing mentorship.

In one summer my Nellie Mak was a tremendously better player, impacting the start of his eighth grade year. He had momentum. His confidence blossomed. He became a leader.

In our little town, at our little middle school, we don’t make cuts. And even though it creates some logistical headaches, everyone plays no matter the skill level.

But there are thousands of kids just like my son that get cut from their school team. So sad.

DSC_0074This year I had 30 kids. With only 11 kids that can play on the field at one time, is this a challenge? Uh, yeah.

Did we have the best year ever? Yep.

Do I want to keep all of these kids? YES. A million times yes.IMG_5537Because if there is one thing I’ve learned as a teacher and a coach, it’s this: human beings are remarkable. They’re ability will constantly surprise you.

DSC_0002With enough hustle, grit, and a little athletic ability mixed in, the kid who never played soccer before becomes a solid high school recruit.

For kids, athletics starts out as fun. But coaches are fired because they don’t “win.”

What are sports for?

What if we approached athletics as a learning environment, where attitude and effort counted as much as height and natural strength?

Seth Godin says, “When you’re six years old and you try out for the hockey team, only two things are going to get you picked ahead of the others: either you’re older (it’s true, check this out) or you were born with size or speed or some other advantage that wasn’t your choice.”

A seventh grader recently told me, “Adults say that winning doesn’t matter, but that’s always the first thing they ask – did you win?”

As a coach, I always try to remember: soccer is so great because it’s so FUN. Because it’s hard. Because it requires so much mental and physical effort. Because you get to play with a TEAM – those that are better than you and those you are better than. You get to make plays, learn to do the Maradona – you get to kick something! How FUN is that?

DSC_0041Some of my kids who I thought just weren’t very good last year showed up this year and they suddenly KNEW HOW TO PLAY SOCCER. All that dreaming over the summer, brain development, growing and kicking and running and world cup analysis. Coordination improved, dribbling clicked, bones, muscles, balance, the ability to see the field, anticipation – all of these things take time.

If I had cut them last year?

“What if we celebrated the students who regularly try the hardest, help each other the most and lead? What if we fast tracked those students, and made it clear to anyone else willing to adopt those attitudes that they could be celebrated too?”

IMG_5358Can’t you see their potential? 🙂

As a side bonus for coaching, you’ll get to ride THE BUS! Forget the field, this is really how you get to know a kid. I would tell you about “secret circle,” but sorry, I’m sworn to secrecy. Anyway, you probably don’t want to know.DSC_0697Our last game season was a friendly match-up on the turf, under the lights. It was the culmination of a near-perfect season. Lucky, lucky us – TURF! Screaming fans! All our dreams came true!DSC_0147Here’s my Brynnie-the-Pooh. She loves the game so much she laughs when she dribbles. DSC_0189Soccer makes stars shine in her eyesbrynne1 DSC_0230 DSC_0171 Perhaps you’ve heard me mention a few times how much I love this game?DSC_0417 And this guy. He just happened to come walking across my camera lens!DSC_0137The youngest roams during all these game. I hope she loves soccer some day, too. Right now she’s soft, sweet, and easily wounded. She could go either way. It depends on what kind of experience she has at an early age. I hope it’s a good one. Please don’t steal her dreams.

Recently Julia wrote of the origin of the word “compete.” We often connect compete with battle. Beat, destroy, annihilate, kill.

It really means:

compete: verb from Latin competere to seek together, from Latin com- petere  to come together, agree, to go to

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we saw team sports that way? Seek together. You’re right, Julia, that sounds so much better than “attack.”

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Quick and Tasty After School Snack: Baked Apple Bites

Are you in an afternoon snack funk? For that magical combination of fast, quick, tasty AND healthy?

Check. Baked apples to the rescue!

True, you need an oven, but baked apples are so different than the usual fare, that I was just tickled apple pink at such a quick, healthy, and tasty morsel.DSC_0056 Man, I love this season. The apples are in full bloom (are we really into fall?) so it’s time to pick yourself some yum-yum.

Turn the oven on to 400.DSC_0057 Take a knife and cut a circle out of the top

DSC_0058 Just like that!DSC_0060 Now, darlings, use a melon baller and scoop out the middle, past the seedsDSC_0061 It’s surprisingly easy.

DSC_0176 Isn’t that pretty?DSC_0179The gorgeous apple! And I love stars. Star was my alias in college. Really 🙂

DSC_0062 Eat the tops or feed them to the chicken. Or doggie.DSC_0063 There. All scooped out and ready to fill. I suggest putting down foil to prevent dishwashing.DSC_0066 Put a little brown sugar in the center and on the sides. Just a tad. Totally optional.DSC_0067 Add a little cinnamonDSC_0069 Perfect, no?

Now, put in preheated oven for about 15 min.DSC_0084 An apple full of love. Isn’t that a perfect heart?

DSC_0096If you accidentally overbake them, no worries, just eat that warm, mushy apple pie right up.

Can you only have these for after school? Heck no! They’re pretty terrific for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Even Valentine’s.

Baked Apple Bites:

Preheat oven to 400.

Wash apples, cut off top

Spoon out seeds (scraping sides a little bit), making a little well

Put a teensy bit of brown sugar and cinnamon inside

Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes or so, depending on how crunchy or soft you like to eat baked apples.

I just inherited a bag of apples from my middle school soccer team so I gotta go – baked apples await! And remember, apples contain quercetin: an apple a day, really does keep the doctor away.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

The Start of it All

hay

We said our good-byes to late night summer nights and jumped right into fall. What a leap! We are busy going from one thing to the next. Before school could start however, we had some shopping to do.

IMG_5218 IMG_5180

Paige found some beautiful mushroom accoutrements and Brynne found this…she was not impressed. I can’t even write the word I detest it so much. Anyway, we did not purchase the lovely little undergarment for my fifth grader.

IMG_5098

Mama managed to get one more soccer game in – in the pouring rain!

IMG_5140 IMG_5142 IMG_5141

To get pumped up for his last year in middle school, Nelson watched Rocky IV. My brother, Eric, waxed poetic about the great cinematic creation and ended the tribute with…”I’m not ashamed to admit I wiped a tear from my eye while writing that.” As you can see, we take our sports seriously.

IMG_5153 IMG_5163 IMG_5168

And then we really were off to school. Cope was inside eating bacon when I took the annual school photo. The tradition of four darlings in a row is totally ruined. On the first day, Nelson and Brynne scampered off to find friends, but at least there is one who still allows a photo with her mama. I’m including her shoes here because she wore these the first week. A little worn, but still perfectly good shoes, wouldn’t you agree?

IMG_5169 IMG_5202 IMG_5219

One of her friends though, deemed them unacceptable. “Ew,” she said. “Get some new shoes. Ew. Get some new clothes. You’re supposed to wear new clothes on the first day.” After school, Paige frowned while telling the story, but she later decided someone must have been having a bad day in second grade 🙁

Brynne, however, got her some fancy shmancy shoes.

And picture 3 is included because Mom is DETERMINED to pack snacks the night before school.

I’m already failing. I can’t do it. It’s a wretched late-night task. Can’t a girl just watch Jack Bauer without thinking about carrot sticks and applesauce?

IMG_5231 IMG_5226

As the youngest, Paige does a lot of waiting around for siblings. Here she rolls around the floor waiting at Brynne’s eye appointment. I was wondering if it was socially acceptable to do the same. She got back at me by getting strep throat this week so I had to wait on her.

IMG_5164 IMG_5165

Before school started for eldest child, we trotted to the big city so I could get those red Bean boots I’ve been drooling over. Now that I’m teaching a class on campus, I can justify such purchases, no? Red galoshes are probably not what you stylish urban dwellers wear, but come on, they’re red!

Well. Apparently, I am not allowed to simply TIE the shoelace. I have to do this thing curly-cue thing on the end and leave it untied. After my first effort, Cope shook her head sadly. “Oh, honey, no.” She really called me honey. And then a daughter tied her mother’s shoe. We have now come full circle. Sniff.

IMG_5088

After school, these are my peeps. Oh my goodness, what a TEAM we have! I love them so much. Our skills are mad good, sure, but we are also KIND and SUPPORTIVE. Ah, the athletic field; one of the best classrooms in life.

IMG_5087

Putting up the nets

IMG_5221

I am now back to being the bag lady: snacks, Barbies, water, shoes, dolls, pencils, gum, soccer lesson plans, whistle, dog treats?

IMG_5223

Cope has been playing some intense soccer as she tries out for the varsity team. Before school officially started she spent a week living at Hogwarts in the dormitory! Away from ME!

We had many text exchanges.

IMG_5237

My children love my compassionate, nurturing, texting tone.

Now tell me, are you off and running, too???

 

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Best of Summer

poppy Early summer. I pondered what in the world these were?DSC_0030 For days I watched them start to pop.DSC_0036 They’re poppies! I adore them. June flowers.IMG_3792 The man is always so full of surprises.IMG_3869 We had awesome grandma and grandpa time.IMG_3808The man is very particular about his barber.

IMG_3802One on one time with the darlings.

DSC_0115Baby birds break out of shells and fly

DSC_0086Bees pollinating

clean Children cleaningDSC_0370Boy kicking

DSC_0096I talked my mom into getting a suit from lime ricki. Isn’t she so vintage chick?

IMG_4817Trader Joe’s is evil.

IMG_4845Some writing time. Here I interview on the front porch – the only quiet spot. IMG_4815 Paige reading Dick and Jane while daddy gets ready for a wedding.IMG_4793 Oh, the beautiful weddingDSC_0572 Climbing a lot. Spectacular views.IMG_4531A family reunion. Bonfires.

IMG_4275

The ocean IMG_4167The World Cup

IMG_4158Peaceful swims

DSC_0049 HayingDSC_0064A garden that grew

DSC_0079 Nelson’s adidas design he’s selling to adidas, of course!DSC_0087An attempt at organization. Brain Research by A Better Blog. Because that makes sense.

IMG_4136Toothpick dolls and thread

IMG_4127 Summer stormsDSC_0047Flowers in the window

IMG_3915

If Brynne had a million dollars she would like a duster for the house. I think this says way too much about my housekeeping.

DSC_0311 Summer afternoonsDSC_0295 DSC_0216 A Sunday afternoon photo shoot attempt. They kept flying around in the sky.DSC_0065And kissing

DSC_0418And growing.

Have I ever mentioned I have trouble with transitions?

When I polled the children on whether the summer was too slow, too fast, or just right they said…”a little slow.” And I smiled and said, “that’s just right.”

And here we go again.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

18. How Many Summers Do You Have Left?

A couple of years ago I wrote down all the places I wanted to go with my children during summer vacation. I was then shocked to realize there were more places than years before my children were 18.

It was kind of a terrible reminder. Children grow up.IMG_1148This little boy would not swim without a face mask covering his nose. Until one day he did.

IMG_0955Sometimes those family trips in the car felt like they would never ever ever ever end…until they do.

IMG_4387Streaking is getting more rare. How sad.

IMG_4777 So is biting

IMG_2884

IMG_9726 paige

IMG_4422

18 summers!??? Does that feel like forever? Oh yes…especially on a boring, hot humid day where the house is an absolute disaster and no one cleans up and you’re going crazy.

IMG_1482 IMG_2602 DSC_0733

DSCN0537

But I only have four summers left with this girl still at home.

It’s not a guilt trip. Just a reminder: make this summer a good one.

 

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Dear Toothfairy

Our toothfairy is a little…unreliable.

As such, the children in this house have to write many letters, notes and reminders, leave glow-in-the-dark trail markers, and shame her into doing her duty. We believe it’s a “she” as Paige has vague recollections of long blond hair…

Our tooth fairy is also cheap. She’s disgruntled with other tooth fairies who leave large amounts of cash for teeth that are supposed to fall out! 

Anyway.

This latest letter was my favorite: First, Brynne asked for a raise (a girl’s gotta try!) and Second, the assurance that my girl,who just turned double digits, is loyal to the end. (She got an extra quarter for that.)

toothfairy

 

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

a Scary Mommy finds redemption (in false eyelashes)

therealthing

Today I am a Scary Mommy at Scary Mommy. Is that scary? Thank you for having me, Jill! post script: to all the concerned readers on Facebook…this story was written from a humorous angle. I didn’t include the many, many conversations that followed when the story ended – pediatrician, nurse, pharmacist, school principal, every mother I’ve ever known…I’m sorry if it came across as me not taking this situation seriously. It was scary, but mostly funny.

To redeem self from terrible smoothie concoction fed to children, I’ll tell you about the false eyelashes. I think I’ve found my Superwoman cape.

I have never worn fake eyelashes (fake? false? clueless mommy). I’ve always associated them as accoutrements only blond bombshells can or want to pull off. But when my very-brunette friend Meredith told me she and her sisters wore them for her 40th birthday a couple of years ago, I was intrigued.

How do you wear them?

Do you actually glue eyelashes to your eye lid?

Won’t they fall off?

Don’t you look like a floozy?

What if you forget they are there and they fall off in the cereal?

For years, every time I passed them at Wal-mart or Target or saw eyelash extension deals on Groupon, the curiosity grew. But still, I just wasn’t the type. Was I?

But then I too, began to climb closer to age 40. Something had to give.

Being born with puny lashes, this is just a curse I’ve had to be content with. Or…is that really not true? Having finally mastered the blowdryer after 38 years of life, I now know that “natural” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. My hair is proof.

Perhaps with a little more effort, I too, could have eyes that “pop.” Perhaps husband would fall over in swooning delight when I stepped into the sunlight and into his arms…perhaps traffic would stop. Perhaps the show donkeys would bray, the mother hens would lay down an extra egg in my vixen honor.

Perhaps we all need to feel a little Marilyn-glory.

Armed with this new dream, I stood in front of the eyelash display in Wal-Mart. Oh, the choices for the cheap and clueless. Knowing there must be differences in eyelash quality, I was willing to lay down exactly $1, throwing them in the cart with glee, as giddy as that one time I drank Red Bull with Meredith before a soccer game (she is a suspect mommy influence.)

My new eyelashes sat in my closet for a couple of months as I gathered the courage to actually wear them. Finally, after persistent badgering from darling daughters, I decided they would be showcased at my parents-in-laws’ 43rd anniversary dinner at the Red Apple Chinese-American Buffet, encountering hundreds of diverse folk in need of fried wontons and sushi rolls.

Paige and Brynne were thrilled, watching me get ready that night. Paige had lost her tooth that day and was wearing it around her neck in a very special tooth container. She carefully showed it to me as I carefully peeled off eyelashes from plastic.

The directions were easy: Put glue on the lash rim and place on eyelash. Easy enough. But actually applying them to the upper eyelash was comical. For one thing they were too long and extended almost to my temple. The extra was hacked off and reapplied.

First impression? Definitely not Marilyn. More clown-like. Fortunately, I persevered and sought out mascara. And then? Wowza! It was kind of…fun. so different. so not-me. Eyes were actually popping!

As my love language is words, I sought out the validation:

6 year old: You look so booootiful!

9 year old: Um. Yes, Mom, keep it. I love it!

I left the bathroom. And walked down the stairs.

12 year old boy: He gave me a very strange look.

14 year old: No mom. No.

Me: I’m doing it!

Husband: He does fall over. I can’t decide if this is good or bad. He does say, “Wow.”

The whole way to the restaurant he keeps looking at me, wondering who is sitting next to him. I flutter the black bird feathers that sit on my eyes. Oh, he’s definitely swooning.

The closer we get to the restaurant, the more insecure I become, constantly checking my reflection in the mirror.  Panicking, I say, “Should I just take them off?” This is a bad habit of mine. I’ll put on lipstick and then bite my lips until all color is gone and I arrive at an event in chapstick.

“No, Mama,” husband says. “Leave it.”

So I do. And the night goes splendidly. Dear in-laws like the look and look legitimately shocked when I reveal the secret. No one at the sushi bar falls over at my great beauty, but no one points their fingers and laughs either. Born this way!

We went home for bedtime, stuffed with crab rangoons, up the stairs, into the bathroom for some teeth brushing and flossing and potty time and all the rest. To have a record of the momentous night, I pulled out the camera.

While trying figure out the perfect eyelash picture, Paige carefully took out her tooth from the hanging tooth vial around her neck…and accidentally dropped it down the drain.

The lovely life she once knew? Ended.fakeeyelashes

The only picture of the night.

Pure hysteria. Eyelashes were forgotten. Sobbing wails echoed as Brynne frantically looked down the drain. There was no way we were going to find that tooth. But hark – what was that little white thing down there? A tooth? You see, we have a drain problem in this bathroom. Too much hair, toothpaste, Polly Pocket shoes, toilet paper, and who knows what else. It has had more Draino poured down it than any other sink in the state.

But could that clog save our tooth?

And so, I found the lone wire hanger I keep for such occasions and began excavation. I knew it was a lost cause, but we just had to try, right? While Paige sobbed at my side, Brynne exclaimed, “Oh sick, disgusting. What is THAT?”

All I could say was, “Oh sick, disgusting. What is THAT?”

Apparently, in a house of four girls, we lose a lot of hair. Long, lost hair that somehow gets washed down the drain and slowly accumulates for months. And then we get to a crisis point when the water doesn’t drain as it should and I wonder why I don’t try all those natural DIY baking soda drain cleaning methods. All this long hair was twisted and lodged into something black and slimy that made me turn my head and wretch.

I worked for a good fifteen minutes, using my non-existent surgical skills until finally the very tip of the hanger began pulling up a 12-inch long black snake. It was beyond horrible. Dissection began. Which goes to show how much I really do love my children.

Many times we thought we had actually found the tooth somewhere in that slime clog, but it always turned out to be something else disgusting and unidentifiable. As shrieks and “ewwww!” echoed through the house, I pondered my fallen state of fake eyelash sophistication at a Chinese-American buffet only hours earlier.

“It’s gone, Mom. You’ll never find it,” Brynne said in defeat. Paige collapsed on the floor.

Brynne began to furiously write a note to the tooth fairy, explaining the debacle. Please, please, she begged, please come for Paige anyway!

Remembering it’s not the critic who counts, but she who is in the dissection arena, I gave it one last try, and there – in the midst of the clogged slime – was the tooth. I smiled and held it up. TRIUMPHANT!

I’d like to think my lack of drain cleanliness was destiny.

Nasty slimy snake clog was tossed in the trash. Tooth was washed and presented to a awe-struck six-year-old. My girl looked up at me with shining stars in her eyes.

“Thank you, Mama!” she burst out. “You’re the best Mama in the whole world.”

I looked in the mirror, at my long luscious eyelashes, at the small child hugging the life out of me. I was struck by how our Marilyn moments come in so many different ways.

p.s. the tooth fairy forgot to come that night, but she’s just not as reliable as a mother.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

the nine minutes that have the greatest impact

Today I learned about the nine minutes during day that can have the biggest impact on a child. This article and podcast is good stuff.

I am often struck by how life with children changes so quickly. We used to be joined by the hip, the shoulder, and every other body part. I remember wondering if I’d ever shower alone.

But now, all of my children can get up, get dressed, leave the house, come back into the house, and go to bed without a touch from their mother. They don’t need me to get them out of a crib (dare I say I miss this?) We’re done with diapers (can I get a hallelujah?) They don’t need me to dress them. I can barely carry any of them. We’d probably break a rocking chair. sniff.

How did this happen?

I am comforted by the fact that secretly, I’m still useful.

These are the nine minutes during the day that can have the most impact on a child:
* the first three minutes–right after they wake up
* the three minutes after they come home from school
* the last three minutes of the day–before they go to bed

A word to mothers who feel guilty that they can’t be home to serve an after-school snack or had a less-than stellar bedtime conversation last night: Don’t.

We just do our best with the time we are allotted.

Ironically, these are the hardest nine minutes of my day. It can be darn inconvenient to be so impacting at breakfast, after school, and a bedtime.

You know what? My brain just said, get over yourself.

I had a life pause.

So I began to play with those nine minutes.

The morning show: instead of flipping on the light in a hurry, pulling off covers, and grabbing a certain girl’s foot to get out of bed, I lingered.

I sat on her bed, pulled her up and kissed her face until she smiled, giggled, and said, “ew, mom!”

Of course, if you have multiple children this could take awhile, but our little kiss-kiss-bite session lasted about a minute. This I-want-to-be-laying-in-bed-reading-Harry-Potter-forever child was completely transformed at breakfast. I think she even smiled.

That same day I met the children at the door as I always do, but instead of getting busy with other things, I hugged each one, asked how their day was. Three minutes ain’t so hard!

I also discovered that a little more focus and presence early on, pays off. Children don’t actually need a ton of one-on-one time, but they do need a little. Children are happier and feel more secure with three minutes of undivided attention, and thus, aren’t so annoying later on 🙂 See? Win-win!

The dreaded bedtime: last night I went into my son’s room. He’s 12, very independent and can go to sleep without any tucking in. And though I always say good-night and give him a hug and a kiss, I’m tucking younger children in. I’m fast and impatient because I’m so dang tired.

But last night I crept into his room and sat on his bed in the dark. I lingered, wondering if I could sit there for three whole minutes.

“Back scratch?” he asked drowsily.

I sat and scratched his back. I didn’t look at the clock. Instead of my usual foot twitching, my feelings of impatience and relief that bedtime was finally done, I watched my son’s beautiful face. When I kissed him good-night, he smiled in the dark, his eyes closed, a child content.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” –mother theresa

This is just to say, motherhood doesn’t have to be so complicated.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Out of Energy? 5 Healthy Portable Snacks

Happy New Year, friends! Do you love new years too? A new calendar on the wall always makes me feel a little lighter, like wiping the slate clean. It also makes me want to invest in a dumpster.

So I suppose it’s fitting, that for my experiment of A Year of Living Without, January is the month without candy.
 
As I type this there are peppermint patties, mint truffle kisses, homemade turtles, and santa marshmellows sitting on my desk. Oh, and there’s more. I’ve tasted pistachio chocolate toffee, nibbled through a box of See’s Candy, and been wooed by chocolate toffee pretzel sticks. The gig is up.
I weep.
During the month of January, there shall be no stuffing of candy in my purse or lunchbox. No, this year we are going to feel groovy. Great energy. Less sick days.  We’re going so fast, aren’t we? The kids are too. The children spend hours away from home without mommy dearest. You can practically hear the stomach growling, feel the drop in blood sugar, see the blackening mood. And the vending machines loom. The one gas station in town beckons. Packed with luscious-looking soda, savory potato chips, stale donuts – it’s no wonder kids eat so much junk I recall the day of my youth – they’re hungry! So. Let’s talk about snacks. I have found that I feel best and have longer-lasting energy if I eat food that is both rich in carbohydrates and protein. Sadly, this precludes the chocolate marshmellow Santa.
Here are five ideas for portable, energy-packed snacks for you and your kids:
1. Boiled Eggs 
Our Downton flock is going strong, producing like good little chickens should!
 
Easy to make, easy to peel, one boiled egg packs 6 grams of protein, 12% of our needed daily value. For easier peeling, dunk boiled egg in ice-cold water. The peel will come right off. Boil a few and store in the refrigerator for days.
2. Nuts and Dried Fruit
Walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, and pistachios all contain high-protein and healthy fats. We need fat, but only the right kind. Nuts are the right kind. Mix nuts with dried fruits such as apricots, apples, and cherries. Try goji berries, figs, dates, and prunes to pack a load of fiber, vitamins, minerals and long-lasting energy. Try some dark-chocolate covered almonds (or not – I hide that treat in a secret drawer.)
3. Peanut Butter Sandwich and Chocolate Milk
It’s not just tasty, it’s actually a perfect post-exercise, energy-packed snack. Peanut butter on whole-grain bread, accompanied by chocolate milk satisfies hunger, and provides essential protein to repair muscles. The carbohydrates replace energy lost. 
p.s. Say Boohoo to Yoohoo Chocolate Drink.
4. Homemade Smoothie 
You know all about my obsession with the smoothie. It’s a great breakfast, but also a healthy portable snack.
Almost every single day, I or dear husband heads out the door with a smoothie in a water bottle. You like it real cold? Fill a thermos and use a cold pack.
Fruit is the sweetest and most preferred ingredient by children, but over time, greens can be added with being able to tell the difference.
Ingredients can include oranges, strawberries, pomegranate, banana, spinach, kale, and beets. For protein, add protein powder, plain greek yogurt, tofu, coconut water, and cooked amaranth (I just tried it and the darlings didn’t even suspect!)
5. Hummus
So easy to make, hummus is just ground chick peas. Give them a whirl in the blender and add whatever flavor you prefer. My favorite hummus recipe is here.
Experiment with beans for flavor. 1 Cup of black-eyed peas pack protein, but also 18% of the calcium we need on a daily basis – who knew?
If packed in a cute little container, kids will dip just about anything: pita bread, pita chips, chicken strips, carrots, cucumbers, green, red, and yellow pepper.
There you go! Five snacks for portable, energy-filled snacks.
 
What are you packing for the road? I’d love to hear your snack ideas.
Looking for tasty, energy-packed dinners? Take a look here.
p.s. Like what you see here? You can subscribe by entering your email up where it says “Subscribe.” Brilliant! Now you’ll never miss a post on chick peas, naughty children, or the best energy-packed smoothies you ever did see.

Here’s to a wonderful Happy New Year!

xoxo.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare

Family Love and No Shave November

Brynne told me this morning that she wishes she was an only child.
“Because then we could go on trips together all alone and you would only pay attention to me.”

I told her how much she would miss her siblings. But as she shrugged and skipped downstairs I felt a little sad. This spunky, resilient little girl needs some one on one time where I sit down and look into her eyes and she doesn’t get interrupted by any other child so help me! 

The opportunity came when Nelson called from school needing his play script. I saw it as fate. I lovingly brought it in (and announced to his English class, who loves you like I do? He blushed as his classmates waved, “Coach does!” I’m so embarrassing). His forgetfulness was the perfect opportunity to steal Brynne for lunch. We went to the local Pizza Chef for a half hour lunch and she felt mighty special. 

Are you a middle child? I hope my girl feels special even though she’s not the only boy, the oldest child, or the baby.

I have been reminded.

This scene sends me into a tizzy. To me, it is the antithesis of family love. I try to be reasonable. But I am decidedly. Not.

Other news fronts: No-shave November is a way to show love. This is what the American Cancer Society website says:

No-Shave November is a unique way to raise cancer awareness.  What better way to grow awareness than with some hair?  Show your support and give back.


So the man shows some love! It begins as a little scruff

that begins to grow into a furry beast.

The goal of No-Shave November is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free.  Donate the money you usually spend on shaving and grooming for a month to educate about cancer prevention, save lives, and aid those fighting the battle.

And then one day it turned into a mohawk. That’s the “wild and free” part. He left his mohawk in all night. The kids began to hop up and down. Who is this mohawk man in the house? Is that our father?

Mohawk man turned into Don Juan. 

Participate by growing a beard, cultivating a mustache, letting those legs get mangly, and skipping that waxing appointment.


This website cracks me up. I think he’s going to skip that waxing appointment but those legs sure are mangly. Like, all the time. Maybe I should try it. Sexy.

Cope is most definitely not feeling the love. She has to go to school with her dad. They share the same campus. And while she appreciates many of his antics, her response to Don Juan was, “No. You are not going to school like that. No. That’s not okay.”

Which just makes us laugh.

“Seriously, Dad. You can’t do that. No.”

The more emphatic she became, the more we laughed. It’s really not funny. Poor girl.

I have to admit, I’ve always loved this particular part of my husband’s personality. The man comes across as so serious and professorial and then every once in awhile…Did he just do that???

Oh yes he did.

This morning he really did go to work as Don Juan. “Don’t you have some…important meetings or something?” I asked. “Probably,” he said. Whatevs.
It’s hard to even remember that clean-shaven man oh so twenty days ago…

His eldest daughter was so mad at him that she wouldn’t even look at him. And then somehow it was my fault. I am wondering how their time together on campus is going? 

I’m laughing again just thinking about it.

Meanwhile, to feel greater family love we have started our Secret Santas a little early. Nelson says this is definitely not okay and when I played Christmas music on Saturday he gave a great protest and said this was not allowed until December 10th!

Just this morning I read three great posts on love…Lindsey…and C.Jane

Lindsey quoted Ann Voscamp and her blog post, “The Real Truth About Boring Men – and the Women Who Live With Them: Redefining Boring.” I love it. It’s definitely worth reading.

Even though I obviously don’t have me no boring man! I’ve got the Don Juan.

Voscamp writes, 
“Let everyone do their talking about 50 shades of grey, but don’t let anyone talk you out of it: committment is pretty much black and white. Because the truth is, real love will always make you suffer. Simply commit: Who am I willing to suffer for?” 

The real romantics are the boring ones — they let another heart bore a hole deep into theirs.

Yes, family love can sometimes be boring and mundane. Our Love Story has involved wet beds, puke in cars, lice, and annoyed teenagers. I so hope it doesn’t involve Depends. But you never know, do you?

And shhh, don’t tell him, but I secretly love those unpredictable, spicy Don Juan moments. Because every once in awhile, it’s good to try not to be so boring. Make the girl laugh, let her heart race a little (as long as you’re scrubbing the toilet.) And she’s yours forever.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestShare