Friday, August 10, 2012

My First Time

     Summer is almost over and I did not get to do all of the things on my summer bucket list.  However, this summer was the first for many things for my family and I.  It comes to show that it is never too late and we are never too old for new experiences.  Here is "My First Time" list:

1.  Home Improvement Project.  I stained our built in hutch and gave it a red mahogany color.  It was very easy; I dust and cleaned it with Murphy's wood soap and let it dry for a couple of days.  Then I brushed on a thick (by accident) layer of the stain, then set a fan to allow it to took a week to dry!  It took so long to dry that I looked it up to see if I missed a step and it appears that I did!  I did not sand it down.  What?  I had to sand it down?  Well, after it dried completely, I placed my fine china and wine glasses on the shelves, and I also added a light.  It shines like nothing I have ever seen!  In the next couple of years I will know if the sanding was a must, but in the meantime, I think it is not too shabby!  What do you think?

2.  Dam Dog.  Our family took its first trip to the Leasburg Dam State Park, and our dog, Zoey, saw a big body of water for the first time.  I thought she would plunge in, but she very cautiously worked her way into the water just until she was knee deep.  Great place for the dog, though the kids were not too thrilled.

3.  Sun Burn.  At 40, I experienced a painful, red sun burn!  What is worst is that I was wearing a blouse that has 3/4 sleeves with the trendy hole on the shoulder area... well my neck and circles on my shoulders were the only things (thank goodness!) that were sun burned.  I even peeled!  Leave it to me to have such a ridiculous sun burn!

4.  Downtown Ramble.  My children were exposed to some fine art and some fancy hor'd ourves as we visited our downtown participating shops on the first Friday of every month.  I would definitely do this again with my girlfriends to enjoy some wine as we mingle, but my kids say they will pass.

5.  First Roller Coaster.  My daughter, Summer, rode on her first roller coaster ride EVER at Knotts Berry Farm.  She is 13 years old and never built the nerve to ride one until now.  She loved it so much that she rode all of the roller coasters, and is urging us to make our next trip to Six Flags!  In contrast, my little dare devil, Nathan, who is 12, could not ride many due to nausea.  What a weird turn of events.

6.  Animal Style.  While vacationing in Southern California, I ordered my usual hamburger combo at In-N-Out, but this time I ordered it Animal Style.  Those extra calories in the smothered burger and fries with grilled onions was well worth it.  I will definitely order this again!
7. Survival of the Greenest.  My plants survived and THRIVED for the first time in my life!!  Before I decided to really take care of them, they were limp and almost lifeless.  I moved them to this kitchen window where they receive beautiful rays of sunlight every morning, and I water them once a week...I even talk to them.  I don't know if the talking works, but they are beautiful!

8. NO TV...Yup, that's right, NO TV the entire summer!  Probably the biggest change in our summer was that we had no television.  Last semester, I wrote a paper on how aggressive behavior could be the results of violence on television on developing, young brains and I decided to cut down on television time.  I also realized that the television was about the first thing being turned on as soon as the kids walked in the door, whether they were watching it or not, and upon closer observations, I realized (and painfully admitted) that they were reciting commercials and tv programs.  At this point, I decided that it was time to take our lives back, and leave the television alone, at least for cable anyways.  We utilized our time reading, arts & crafts, planning, talking, board games, outside play, and quality, let me stress that again, QUALITY time together.  We also discovered many movies that otherwise we would have no idea where out there, and we watched movies before bed time as a family. 

     So I didn't get to go on a nature walk, and we didn't get to see a sunrise, but these "First Time" experiences were wonderful and make up for missing activities. As we say goodbye to our summer vacation, we say hello to the beginning of a new school year, the fall, then winter.  These new seasons are opportunities for new adventures, experiences, and memories that my family and I will treasure.

     This will be the last update.  I may blog here and there in the future if time allows.  For now, good bye and until next summer!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Silly Summer Dinner

      A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a couple of colored butcher paper rolls to use for crafts with my kids, the problem was that I didn't know what to do with them. Last year, as Summer began, I rolled one onto the dining table and I decided to leave it there, as a table cloth. At dinner time, the kids looked at me wondering if there was something they had to do with it, or perhaps I forgot to pick the butcher paper up. Then I explained that we would not have to clean the table, only dust off the crumbs at the end of our meals. That's it? Really? OK, ok, so I had to think of something else to do with it other than just let it lay there. So I brought our marker/crayon box and set it in the middle of the table. The rules were, draw or write whatever you felt like, anywhere on the butcher paper, even add on to someone else's drawing. It was a hit!

      This year, I went for blue butcher paper (left picture below, with my daughter, Summer) and hope to have as much fun as we did last year. In addition, I also hung up some red paper on our built in hutch (which, as you can see, is a project in itself) so that we may have some fun with finger painting. I also thought of hanging some paper on our wall for Summer notes, or more finger painting, but I am not sure I will get to that this year.

     These small, inexpensive activities are conversation starters, they add art to the dinner table, and the kids are allowed to write and doodle as we eat.  It comes with summertime and it goes when school begins.  And once it gets very dirty, I just throw it out and lay down some more paper.  Oh, I almost forgot.  I like to mark the beginning of Spring by removing the extension to our dinning table.  We have a smaller, table for four until the fall.  During the colder seasons, I add the extension as I change the decor to reflect the time of year. 

     And to go with the no fuss butcher-paper table cloth, here is a no fuss, fun, summertime recipe that the children can help make, or if they are old enough to work with the stove, they can cook it themselves:

Mexican Pizza
1. Heat a comal, a flat griddle, to a medium heat.
2. Spread pizza sauce on half of flour tortillas.
3. Sprinkle Monterey Jack cheese (or your favorite cheese) over the pizza sauce.
4. Top the cheese with favorite toppings, like pepperoni, green chile, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc.
5. Place the open tortilla on the hot comal for about a minute or so, then fold the half that does not have any ingredients over to the other side of the tortilla, to cover the other half. 
6. After a couple of minutes, flip the tortilla over to the other side and leave for a couple of minutes.
7. Once the cheese is melted, remove from the comal, and serve.

     Eat as a dinner, or cut it up in slices as a snack.  Serve with a side salad, or by itself.  The family will love this easy, fun, kid friendly recipe.

Monday, June 25, 2012

S'mores of Baseball and Softball

     The last couple of weeks for our kids baseball and softball season have been quite an experience.  Let me expand on some of the details from the last post having to do with this topic.  The sporting arena has changed dramatically from The Sandlot times.  Kids don't have time for leisure play anymore; it is practice all the time for some competetive, serious, play.  Practice can take place anywhere from two to six days a week; two to three and a half hours a practice.  Boys as young as 11 years old are pitching curve balls with no idea of what this can do to them by the time they enter high school.  Or young girls with serious injuries who would rather "walk it off" than to take care of it have no clue what this will create when they enter (early as) their 20's.  I have seen it and I personally know young adults with these types of problems.  Whether parents want to admit it or not, this is the reason why so many young athletes get burnt out before they reach high school, and never give it a second thought.  This is not a topic that baseball moms like to engage out of fear of being the only ones that feel this way.  But through the course of the years, I have come across many parents, mostly those who went through it years ago and have grown kids, admit that they pushed their kids into playing even when the kid did not like the sport, was tired of playing, or simply didn't want to play anymore.   And I admit, I am guilty of this myself, but getting better at backing off.

Going back to my earlier post on Baseball and Softball.

3. I will not make excuses for my child.  I explained that when my child makes an error, I will leave it alone and allow the coaches to make corrections.  I am old skool, you know, discipline and respect score high on my list, so when the coaches tell my kids to do something, they better do it, even if they don't want to!  And it is my responsibility, as a parent, to instill these values and standards in my kids.  The coaching staff takes time out of their precious day to coach and teach my kids  the sport (FREE of CHARGE!).  The least that my kids can do is to keep their ears open, mouths shut, and do as they are instructed.  And if my children have a problem with being yelled at (by the coaches), well, they better find a sport that fits their fragile personality, has got to be something out there that allows mediocrity and a coach who doesn't demand hard work, right?  WRONG.  There is nothing more frustrating to the community that is trying to help a child develop, whether it is a teacher, a coach, or a club organizer, than an enabling parent who makes up excuses for their misbehaved child, regardless of the situation or circumstance at home. 

4. Never assume about other teams.  I use to assume that competitive teams that moved ahead a division believed that they were better than the rest of the teams.  This is not so.  When a coach decides to move a team up (ahead of their own division) is not because they believe that they are better off than the others.  It is because they believe that they will help the players by giving them a higher level of competition, and therefore the players will rise to the occasion.  I realized this when both my kids teams began to do this a couple of years ago.  The coaches clearly let the parents know that the team may not win many games, but it will make the team stronger, by competing at a higher level.  The truth is, every coach does what is best for the team at the time, because once the player is past the basics, the teams are out to win.  Development of the skill and technique come with a higher level of competition and much practice.

     All you baseball and softball moms out there know that there is so much more than what I am highlighting here.  There are those city and torunaments championships, teammate bonding and lifelong friendships.  I will get to those as well.  Being a baseball, softball, soccer, cheerleading, swimming, or football mom (yes, I am also a football mom), is a lot of stress and hard work.  It is not always pretty, but it is always a memorable adventure.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Few Of My Favorite Things

     These are 10 things I love, would like to do, or am currently doing.  My goal this Summer is to fulfill them with my family.  No particular order.  Enjoy.

1. My family.  This includes the circle of friends and our dog.  I will make sure that I touch base with everyone, even if it just to say "hello."

2. Rising early.  As a teenager, I wasted my days by sleeping in during the Summer months.  I realize how much I missed out on.  My children will get opportunities to sleep in (I know they want to), but I will make sure that our Summers days are not wasted, but rather filled with adventures to the park, the pool, or the farmers market.

3. Watching the sun rise.  I do not plan to rise early enough to watch the sun rise every day, but I will make the drive with my family to the White Sands National Monument Park to view the glory of God, with a beautiful sun rise, at least once this Summer.

4. The Beach.  This Summer, we will go to the west coast and visit the beach by day and night.  Maybe fish or take a stroll on a pier.  We will bury each other in the sand and look for seashells.  And we will leave our names engraved in the sand, so that the waves take them into the ocean for safekeeping.

5. Bike ride.  We will embark on a bike route (something we have never done) and push our muscles to the limit.  Helmets will be a must for the family, and in addition, I will also wear knee pads, elbow pads, wrist protectors, and shoulder pads (are they allowed?).

6. Books.  I have never been a reader, but this year, I will join my kids in reading books.  I just finished reading Bill O'Reilly's book Who's Looking Out for You?  Now, on to Moonrush by Dennis Wingo.

7. Train my dog to heel.  Our four legged family member is an 11 month old lab named Zoey.  She weighs in over 50 pounds, and the truth be told...she walks me!  Just purchased a pincher collar and  I hope this works because running after a wild dog in the park, while I plead (more like yelling like a mad woman) with her to stop and heel as I am pulling on her leash with both hands is not working out so well for me.  Especially after she decides to stop and I am panting along with her!

8. Stay in a hotel room.  Just for fun, in town or when we are out visiting family in California.  The kids love to eat the continental breakfast, get in the pool, the "never off" television, and not having to do their beds in the morning.  And I like the fact that I don't have to cook breakfast, I enjoy an absolutely lazy time by the pool (reading a good book), I don't have to get on them for leaving their television on, and I don't do my bed in the morning.

9.  Take a stroll through nature.  Take a little drive to Ruidoso, NM, and enjoy a nature walk through the woods, by the creek, and really take nature in.  Camping?  I don't think I am ready for that yet. 

10. Teach my daughter to drive.  I have been allowing my daughter to take the car around our block since last Summer, but now she is asking for a longer distance, at a faster speed.  She takes good control of the car and may be ready for a few more blocks.  So, my goal is to make this my husbands goal, hehe, and it should be a piece of cake for me!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Baseball and Softball

     Summer time is synonymous with Baseball, at least in my little city.  About a  quarter of a mile stretch of baseball and softball fields cover a few blocks, where T-ball games all  through adult softball games, are being played almost every day of the week during the hot Summer days.  I never played sports so I never knew what a tough "business" it is.  It is not always the fun, friendships, and adventures that The Sandlot portray.  It is a lot of stress, arguing, looking out for the players best interest as a team and individually, seeking out the best coaches, the politics... you name it, and baseball has it.  Unfortunately, the older the players, the tougher the game gets; the competitive level becomes more intense and the politics of the game become more cut throat.  New friendships are developed as old friendships are dissolved...all... over... a game. 

     I have learned a great deal through my six year journey of being a baseball/softball mom.  I have enjoyed every bit of it, and I would have enjoyed it more if I had someone to guide me when I was a rookie mom.  Here are the things I have learned:
  1. There is always a child worst off and a child better than my own.  Even though I am my kids number one fan, I have to remember that there will always be someone better than them.  This kept my kids and I humbled, even if they just finished playing an amazing game.
  2. If I can't say anything nice, I will not say it at all (to my own child, or another child).  Many times I felt that when they made a mistake, I had the right to scream it out from the stands, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" I found out the hard way when my daughter injured her knee (more about that in another blog).  I had to learn that when my kids made a mistake, it was the coach's responsibility to address those issues, and it was not my job as a parent.  My job was to support, lift up, and encourage. By the way, I also applied this to other parents, the coaching staff, and the umpires (these can all go on a separate blog as well!)
  3. I will not make excuses for my child.  I will neither scream their errors, nor will I praise them!  I have learned when my kids make errors on the field, and I say, "That's good!  Missed it, but at least you kept the ball in front of you," or, "Beautiful try!" it does not help my them.  When my kids hear me praise their errors, they believe mediocrity is the best they should do and there is no need to do better.  When they make errors, I simply remain quiet.
  4. Never assume about other teams.  I will not underestimate, overestimate, or assume I know what the other teams are doing, simply because I don't know.  It may look like they are copying, cheating, or think that they are better than others, but the truth of the matter remains that I do not know what others think, say, do, and the reasons behind it all.
  5. Address the coaching staff with concerns.  The coaching staff are the only ones that can help me.  I learned that making comments with other parents only brings misunderstandings and much hearsay. 
  6. The UMP is always right... well, they are supposed to be, anyways.  But even when they know that they have made a horrible call, they will not change it.  Many times their bad calls are game changers, but no matter how much I try to bring this to their attention, they will more likely throw me out of the ball park, rather than acknowledge their error.... trust me on this one, I know.  So I learned to let it be, no matter how upsetting it is.
  7. Little things.  Then there are the little things that I would have liked to have known, like give my child a drink with electrolytes like Gatorade or pedialyte before, during, and after the game (once the game ends, plenty of water is best).  Never feed my child a heavy meal right before a game.  Pack a bag with all the essentials: a blanket, sunscreen, bug spray, band aids and ointment, ibuprofen or acetaminophen, baggies (in case I need ice for an injury), and wipes.  Pack a cooler (I still struggle with preparing for this one) with ice, water, and healthy snacks that will help with my children's performance like, nuts, or oranges slices.
     There is plenty more, which I will share on a different occasion.  And I am sure that there are plenty more lessons for me to learn.  But until then, I hope these guidelines help someone stay out of hot water, and enjoy America's favorite pastime...Baseball.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


     So, this is it.  I finally did it.  I have always wanted to create a blog, but I had neither the opportunity, time, nor courage!  But it is done.  I hope to update this once a week.  This is my first GO FOR IT!

     I have worked for a school these past three years, and at the end of the school year I sit back and watch the entire staff leave for their Summer vacation, except me.  My contract had been a 12 month position secretary.  This year, however, I had the great opportunity to sign a 10 month contract, rather than a 12 month...mmmm.  My paychecks are going to be significantly smaller, I know this, but on the other hand, I get Summer vacation with my family!  Oh yeah, fun times require money.  What to do?  What to do?  My family and I are Christians, and we have left our lives in His care, so for one, I will place my family first and let Him provide. This is my second GO FOR IT!

     The first order of business, clean out the closets, re-organize all of our arts and crafts boxes, take out the fishing poles, buy bicycles (even though I have not ridden a bike in over....30 years!  This should be interesting not to mention entertaining for some), and find all of the free or close to free events that are going on in our city.  Summer of 2012, here we come!

Here is our schedule so far:

Tuesdays - Free movie day at Allen Theaters.  I know what you're thinking, "Who wants to watch an old, kid movie?" but even most of these kid movies are pretty entertaining.  For instance, we already watched A Dolphin Tale, sure it's a kid movie, but it was enjoyed by every adult at the theater as well.  It is a great family movie that inspires and motivates.  In an effort to help my children with retention and memory, I always ask a zillion questions at the end of the movie, like, "Who was the main character?" or "What was the name of the doctor?" etc.  My kids think I am asking questions for fun, but in reality, it helps them with memory and it let's me know where their comprehension is at.

Also, Tuesdays are $1 ice cream scoop at Baskin Robins.  We treat our family to a nice drive, some refreshing ice cream for the family at under $5.  And if you take their coupon for a $1 off on your next visit, then you will spend that much less!