Tag Archives: kids

Soccer Mom Sundays #1

Okay, so it’s Monday…

But hey– I’m nursing an MLS hangover! Yesterday was the first day of the 2016 MLS season and it was kind of a big deal. 10 games played across the country, most notably featuring the re-match of the MLS Cup Final (Portland Timbers v Columbus Crew) and the ‘Consolation Match’ that could have happened at last year’s playoffs (New York Red Bulls v Toronto FC). In total, 36 goals were scored, and there was plenty of action for the American soccer fan.

In case I haven’t made it clear, I’m a fan of the New York Red Bulls. They play in Jersey, and I live in Jersey. It’s kind of a no-brainer. I’ve gone to a couple of games, and the atmosphere at Red Bull Arena is captivating. The other fans I have met are really great, and I’m learning a lot from them– especially the folks who report on NY area soccer and go in-depth with RBNY. I’ve met a couple of the players, and interact with a couple more on Twitter. I even have a good relationship with a group sales rep (whom I call my “Red Bulls Boyfriend”). Overall, it’s a club I am happy to associate with.

They played their home opener and it…. didn’t go well. First half was amazing, although scoreless. They had good combinations, and stayed up near the Toronto goal, but as my friend Russ McKenzie commented yesterday, there was no finishing– just couldn’t find the inside of that goal. Then, when Toronto scored on a penalty kick in the second half, it was very hard to recover. TFC scored again, and the inability to finish was painfully obvious for RBNY. However, the team has much to be proud of: new player Gideon Baah did a great job in defense, a space that many were concerned about between Matt Miazga’s departure to Chelsea and Damien Perinnelle’s continued recovery. Felipe Martins (who is probably one of the sweetest guys in MLS, by the way) was trying to make things happen up top. If I’ve learned anything about soccer in the time that I’ve really paid attention to it, it’s that the long view is the most important. One loss, while annoying, isn’t the end of the world. It’s pretty  much impossible to have an undefeated record in soccer– unlike the NFL (which may be why soccer lags behind football in popularity).

I watched at least some of 5 MLS games yesterday: Red Bulls/TFC, Chicago Fire/NYCFC, Portland/Columbus, Seattle/Sporting KC, and LA/DC. And that was AFTER watching the 2nd half of Hamburg/Berlin in the Bundesliga! I give up watching re-runs of any show during Lent, so a soccer game is almost always new. I should find a way to monetize this fanaticism…

I have to get in all the watching I can, because in less than a month, I’m going to be spending a lot of time watching a very different competition: The Regulator, Toughie, and Pint-Size Genius all start their own soccer seasons. They’ve been practicing with indoor camps, so hopefully they’re fit and ready to go.

Play on, everyone!

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Ah! I feel weefweshed!

(Quote: Lilly Von Shtupp, “Blazing Saddles.” I’m generally of the opinion that the late great Madeleine Kahn really had a speech impediment and any role where she didn’t speak with one was her acting.)

We recently returned from our annual beach vacation. Some people might say a week with the in-laws doesn’t sound like much of a vacation, but that’s never been the issue. For me, it’s been a week in a different house with my children. As a Stay-At-Home-Mom, that is Not. A. Vacation. That’s just… relocation. In the past, I’ve honestly not been all that psyched about going. But the kids love it, so I never said anything.

That’s when I remembered my New Year’s Resolution– speak up more, be more honest. I can pretty much peg one occasion a month where I’ve heeded my own advice and it has yet to lead me astray. It’s as they say: Honesty is a positive course of action that yields satisfying results. (Ok, “they” say it in a more slant rhyme fashion, but where’s the fun in that?)

So I spoke to the Hubs about why I wasn’t all that excited to go to the beach house. That he spends the whole week with his nose in his Kindle. That I have to encourage the kids to get away from the TV and hit the beach. That I’m the one to feed, diaper, escort, and discipline the kids. And I can do all that for a lot less money by staying home.

Well! Miracle of miracles, my honesty paid off. By the time we’d settled in that first day, we’d eaten at two restaurants already so we agreed on sandwiches and chips for dinner. I got Pint Size Genius his sandwich and took it to the table for him to start eating. When I turned around, there it was: the Hubs, making Toughie his dinner.

Now you should know– and if you don’t, let me put it on the record here– the Hubs is not derelict in Daddy duties. He often feeds, clothes, escorts, medicates, diapers, and disciplines. He just treated our vacation as his vacation… from all that. And that don’t work for me.

The rest of the week continued in that same vein. Too many requests from the kids used to get the response, “Ask [parent that I am not]” from both of us. Not this time.

So the vacation went better than usual. Although I’m still considering a “girl’s day out” to a beach… where day drinking is acceptable and I don’t have to change a diaper.

Here’s to speaking up and being rewarded with a good time.

Win the battle, the war might follow

This is effectively the first real day of Summer Vacation. So far, books and magazines have been read, laundry has been prepared, tables have been cleaned, and a bed has been made.

I made a list of little chores that can be done almost every day and put them in a bowl. In order to get computer time, five of those chores must be finished. The boys finished all 5 each in about 2 hours. But the best part was that no one minded doing the chores and earning the time. At our current rate, all the boys will use their computer time by lunch. If they want more computer time, or some time on the Wii, they can do more chores after lunch. I also love that I don’t feel as guilty about letting them play games since they did something productive first.

Here’s to keeping up the good work.

Ruh roh…

(NOTE: I wrote this entry last week but something went wrong with the Auto-Save feature. I’m going to try to replicate it as best I can…)

While sitting in the Auditorium waiting for The Hubs to arrive and The Regulator’s Spring Concert to start, I had a rather startling realization:  there were only two weeks left to the school year.

If you lived anywhere– let’s face it, anywhere— this past winter, you’d agree that it didn’t feel as though the school year was ever going to end. But it is, and as usual, I feel woefully unprepared.

I had had such high hopes for this summer– vacations, day trips, and a move to a glorious house in suburbia. But alas, this was not to be. I’ve been tutoring here and there, but it doesn’t pull in all that much. The big vacation is already paid for, but aside from that, I’ll have to wait and see if I land a work-from-home gig that Mrs. Legal Lawyer told me about. If I don’t get that… well.  Can’t feel sorry for myself if that’s the result.

I always say that I’ll get the kids working on their basic skills and reading like crazy over the summer, but that doesn’t really happen, either. The Regulator needs to improve his handwriting like woah, and they could all use more trips to the library. The Hubs and I love books, but we really can’t afford to be buying all of them! The Summer Reading Program at town libraries is pretty great, but we just haven’t been able to keep up  with the assignments. I think we need to spend more time there and get the boys a little more familiar with their reading interests and limitations (why am I bringing home 6 novels per kid?).

And even though we’re not moving, it’s not too early to start preparing. I intend to  start tossing all the stuff we don’t need, maybe even selling what we can. Who knows? We might even be able to be a little happier in the space we have when there’s less stuff in it. We have a storage unit and most of that stuff hasn’t seen the light of day in a couple years!

The Regulator is also transitioning to *gasp* MIDDLE SCHOOL. I hear tell the 5th grade is one of the toughest years in our school system. Probably just as well that we’re not moving anywhere… he’s not one to handle stress. I want to prepare him, though: study skills, note taking, organization. Things that will make the actual content a non-issue (which it pretty much is– he’s above average intelligence-wise and I have the objective test results to prove it).

There’s always swimming and soccer, and maybe if we can squeeze in a day trip, it’ll be a grand time. Anything to keep them from being plugged in all damn day.  Anything to keep them from making a royal mess of our home.

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Oh… if I use this. Poor boys won’t know what hit them! They’re downright lucky we don’t have a pet (or a farmstead, for that matter… how the heck old is this list?!?!).

Here’s to family fun and making memories.

Adventures in girlyness

I have three boys. I got used to the idea that I was going to be a mom of boys. That I would be potty training boys. That I would be dressing boys. Giving boys crew cuts and fauxhawks. That my laundry baskets would be full of blacks, blues, greens, and grays.

Then I had a girl.

I didn’t set out to fill my world with pink and ruffles. I don’t care much for gender issues– my children can like and do whatever they like and want to do– but I can’t help but enjoy the different-ness of a girl after three boys. The vast majority of Buttercup’s clothes were hand-me-downs and gifts, and they were just so pretty!
I let Buttercup’s hair grow out and am setting about learning how to do different things with it. The boys like their hair short.
All my kids like beaded necklaces. Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s, 4th of July… they’re just fun. But only Buttercup puts them on whenever she finds them and walks around saying “pree-yee,” which I assume means “pretty.” I didn’t teach her that: it came to her naturally.
I never thought I would have to figure out how to be a mom of a girl. I was quite sure I wouldn’t be good at it. And I was certain I didn’t want a little me. But it wasn’t entirely up to me, was it?
So if I can get the girl to sit still, I’ll attempt a French braid. Wish me luck!
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Meh…it’s a start.

Here’s to letting children be themselves. Because they are awesome.

Changing it up

I have the sinking feeling that I say the same stuff over and over. Is it always about Crock Pots and cleaning? Weight and weird music?
Talking about the kids, that’s the most important thing to me. They’re kind of my true audience. I don’t think I always show them that even the smallest things they do are important to me. But they are… which is why I chronicle them here. Or, why I should be chronicling them here.
So here’s to a new page getting turned.  Or in this case, a new Web page getting refreshed.

It started with a bookcase….

Yesterday was The Regulator’s birthday (Double digits!! Woop Wooooop!!!) And every year I tell my kids how they were born. So here’s his story:

I got pregnant about 2 months after getting married. People think that’s weird, maybe even wrong. I was in my early 20s, teaching at an all-girls school for not-a-lot-of-money, and the Hubs was working part-time at the local supermarket, having just lost his job. We lived in a dinky one-bedroom apartment over some lady’s garage. But the boy was on his way (not that we knew it– he wouldn’t show us “the goods” at any of our ultrasounds) and we had to do what we could. Thankfully a lot of stuff fell into place: we found a great 2-bedroom apartment in a nice suburb for a good price; the Hubs got a full-time job with benefits; the raise at the all-girls school kept me going another year; and even a premature baby was healthy and happy.

The day before I went into labor, I looked at the bookshelf in the living room and wanted to scream. See– the Hubs and I love books. A lot. In the “olden days” before the Kindle, we had to buy books that we loved and store them on shelves. But we have So. Many. Books. And they were in no order whatsoever. The Hubs had sort of just thrown them up on the shelves when we moved in, and while it was something that always bothered me, I realized that day that something had to be done. I took down all the books, sorted them by author and divided hardcover from paperback. It took all day, but I was very proud of myself. I went to bed knowing the next day I was going to be taking my students to see a production of Romeo and Juliet. But baby had other plans…

I woke up in the middle of the night, feeling… ick. Nothing hurt, no fever or anything– I just had to use the bathroom except it didn’t feel like having to use the bathroom. I soon realized that my water must have broken. I wasn’t due for another month, so I quickly proceeded to freak out. Called the doctor, who asked about contractions, of which there were none. So he told me to try to get more sleep and meet him at the hospital in the morning. I packed a bag (with stuff I never used, as most women will tell you) and tried to sleep. Yeah– that worked.

Went to the hospital, and the nurse did the usually exam. It was determined that my water indeed had broken, which can create an infection risk for the baby. I was admitted and given a Pitocin IV. If you don’t know, Pitocin will spark contractions, and that’s what I needed. The doctor told us that it wouldn’t be long now. Time, as we all know, is a relative concept. I was in the hospital bed the entire day waiting for the labor to get into high gear. Lemme tell you– it was boring. Like, really boring. Then it was painful… like, really painful. I got an epidural (which didn’t work, btw) and kept at it. It honestly felt like nothing was happening. I was 20 minutes away from a C-section when suddenly it was GAME ON. I was pushing, nurses were monitoring, the Hubs was reassuring, and the doctor was catching. Nearly a full day after my water initially broke, at 12:36 am, I had my first son, all 6 lbs 3 oz. of him.

Since he was premature, there was a concern that his lungs would not be fully prepared to start working. It turned out we had nothing to worry about, since he was screaming within minutes of birth (he started out grunting, which is disconcerting). We all went home two days later, and have been enjoying life as a family ever since.

So Happy Birthday, Regulator. Here’s to all things fair and even. Because that’s the way you like it. 

What if I gave this a try?

I’m actually just saving this for later….

 

SELECTING WORK FOR A PORTFOLIO 

How many entries should you include in a portfolio? The answer depends on your purpose. If you are developing an electronic portfolio that will represent your accomplishments as a student, you may include a variety of materials – from essays to problem sets to photos to Web texts to a résumé. In this case, it makes sense to include many kinds of materials because those reviewing your portfolio will click on only those items that interest them. If you are developing a portfolio for your writing class, however, you should probably limit yourself to five to seven examples of your writing. Here are some kinds of writing you might include in such a portfolio: 

  • an academic essay demonstrating your ability to argue a claim or position
  • a personal essay that shows self-insight and demonstrates your ability to paint vivid pictures with words
  • a Web text you have developed on a specific topic
  • a brief report prepared for any class or community project
  • an essay or other writing project showing your ability to analyze and solve a problem
  • your favorite piece of writing vwriting based on field research, library research, or both
  • a piece of writing for a community group, club, or campus publication
  • an example of a collaboratively written document accompanied by a description of how the team worked and what you contributed
  • an example of your best writing on an essay examination
  • a multimedia presentation
  • correspondence, such as a letter of inquiry, an email message, or a job application or résumé



You should also include the assignments for the work you include whenever applicable. If your portfolio is for a writing course, you may be expected to include examples of your notes and early drafts as well as any responses you got from other readers. 

(credit: The Everyday Writer )

Here’s to looking for a new direction

It really *is* how you play the game

I’m just gonna put it out there. Toughie’s team has yet to win a game. Let’s be clear: many things in the universe are conspiring against them. The teams are divided by age, but because it was hard to get enough kids for a team, two age groups are together in one team. But because the older kids in the group can’t play against younger teams, the younger kids have to play against older teams. And they’re not just any ramshackle bunch of kids who happen to be older: some of them have been playing as long as they’ve been walking. Some were cherry-picked from their recreational leagues, and other teams have so many kids they have an “A” squad and a “B” squad. Our team was just big enough to play the field with one or two substitutes. Many of them dabbled in the rec league, but didn’t have much in the way of formal training (Toughie included). They’re learning as they go. And it’s just not easy. And that is frustrating. Now here’s the bright side:  It has never gotten the kids down. They were just as excited after their last loss about playing as they were before their first loss.  And more kids have joined up. And now they’re learning to play together. And they’re scoring. And they’re loving it. And every parent on the sideline is proud. And next fall, there will be two teams formed from this one–the older kids who play in the next bracket, and the younger kids who will  stay in our current bracket. Toughie is one of the younger kids. And if he’s good now (which I have been told he is), he just might be great next year. He’s trying every step of the way. Here’s to not worrying about whether you win or lose.

Menus are for restaurants

And I ain’t no restaurant.

One of those things that experts will tell you when you want to avoid overspending on food is to create a menu and shop accordingly. And being married 10 years now, with ever-growing and ever-eating children, I’ve tried it to use a weekly menu. And I’ll stick with it for a while… until incidents happen (see what I did there?). We get invited to someone else’s house; a bonus from the Hubs’ job takes us out somewhere special; I forget to take the necessary items out of the freezer; something comes up so that we only have 30 minutes to make dinner instead of the 55 minutes my recipe calls for; I accidentally plan something that I thought I had all the ingredients for but I actually don’t. It’s frustrating. 

There’s also the fact that a menu kind of makes you think that you have to make something entirely new and different every night. This was a huge problem when I ended up shelling out a lot of money for a week’s worth of meats and veggies, and ended up with a ton of leftovers that no one really wanted. I took a page out of my dad’s playbook (he used to run office cafeterias) and “repurposed” food whenever I could. But the kids weren’t really buying into it, and frankly neither was I. 

Then I stumbled on a solution. Like a mediocre wardrobe, I had pieces available to me but nothing that really “went together.” So I looked carefully and wrote down what I could make with it: the chicken carcass with breast meat still attached can be soup; the frozen tilapia can be thawed, breaded and fried; ground turkey and leftover bacon (I know– that surprises me when it happens, too) can be a decent meatloaf. I left it on the fridge and checked off meals as I made them. Then there are items that don’t require much work from me that can end up being dinner anyway (i.e., boxed Mac & Cheese). The occasional dinner out tops it all off. 

A fan of clever advertisements, I nicknamed this list, “The Scroll of Infinite Deliciousness” like the Campbell’s Soup ad. The kids like it, because they often get to pick the meal. And I just like not being “locked in” to a particular menu. Isn’t that what we like about menus when we go out to eat– varied possibilities?

Here’s to eating what we love and loving what we eat.Image

(Bar-be-que pork in the Crock Pot. I could make this every week.)