The Death of Unorganized Sports

Every year Ryan watches the Little League World Series. Every year I ask if there is anything else on tv (besides the 12 ESPN channels that always seem to have 4 old men talking sports behind a big desk- those “4 men behind a desk” shows annoy the crap out of me). Apparently, for about 2 weeks there isn’t. I think it’s great that these kids have the chance to play in these types of games and get national recognition.

Wait for it….

BUT, each year the looks on these kids faces portray nothing but fear. They aren’t smiling or joking with each other like MLB players do in the dugout. They aren’t jumping up and down and smiling into the cameras for their friends at home to seethem. No, all I see are children being put in such a high pressure situation that they aren’t even taking in the experience; all they know is they MUST WIN. This year, a few of the kids looked like they just wanted to run away and cry.

I recently read an article on what ruined youth baseball of our past. The author seemed to believe that it was ESPN and tv cameras. He remembered the joy kids had playing sandlot baseball in an unorganized environment – the freedom for them to just let lose.

Sandlot baseballRemember what it was like? No fancy bats, no sponsors or big name logos, no reporters asking you about your winning strategy, no birth certificate rules or certifications. Just a bunch of kids with sticks and garbage can lids having fun in the street or in an empty dirt lot.

Today, the neighborhood kids don’t converge in one location outside to play games, they don’t find general household objects to use in games, they don’t catch fireflies in the summer night.  Now, kids hide inside all summer in the air conditioning playing video games or on the couch eating junk food while watching tv.

It’s sad. I’m all about organized sports. I’m a firm believer in organized sports’ role in sending kids down the right path in life, esp in inner cities or towns where the alternative can be deadly. I’ve seen if make a difference between a child losing their way in life and becoming successful members of society who are willing to give back to the next generation. I am grateful for every coach I had throughout my life that made a difference in my life. For every coach who was like a second parent to me and believed in me and made sure I was headed in the right direction.  For every coach that disciplined me and didn’t fill my head with empty unearned praise but made sure I learned that life isn’t always fair and how to loose with grace while learning from my mistakes.

But I wonder when organized sports took over for just plain fun. I would love to see kids outside just running around and working things out for themselves. Making up their own rules, teaching each other, and just concentrating on the fun – not the fancy LED scoreboard. Sure, even the youngest kids keep score at everything. In my house even a game of checkers is a constant “Am I winning?”. And I see no real problem with acknowledging winning or losing – I just think it shouldn’t overshadow the game itself.

This post started off in a completely different direction so I will have to get to that topic in another post.


My Baby’s No Baby Anymore

It’s been a very eventful week. Between my unexpected gestational diabetes diagnoses, Bruce’s first day of school – at a new school – and week 3 of football practice we’ve been quite busy around here.

Bruce started 2nd grade this week and is now a private school child – uniforms and all. The transition was much easier than I thought since Bruce actually knew 4 of the 6 other boys in his class (3 of them play football with him) -the girls are not a concern to him, he ignores them while they follow him around. He even thinks the uniforms are pretty cool – he thinks he is dressing fancy with khaki shorts, school polo shirt and belt every day.

He had a great first day and really likes his teacher. I was more nervous than he was and am so relieved that it all worked out and we’re off to a great start. FYI: don’t read the parents’ manual for private schools – it will only scare you.

As mothers, we often wish our babies can stay little and affectionate forever – except on laundry day, of course! He was always so free with the hugs and kisses. Now, we’ve entered the stage where he just wants me to leave quickly and quietly when I drop him off at school. He did sneak me a kiss as I left his classroom on Monday morning, trying to figure out if I could possibly hide in a closet and watch unnoticed.

As I look ahead with anticipation towards our little girl’s birth, I can’t help but be a little nostalgic and sad that my baby boy isn’t a baby anymore. Seems like just yesterday he was born, totally dependant on Ryan and I.

The doctors had been monitoring his weight for months and a C-section was planned because of his weight and my size.  I was a week late with no signs of this baby having any intention of leaving my body. Finally, I told the doctor (in my own flowery words) that it was time to get the kid out. He scheduled my delivery the day after next.

My mom was staying with us for a little while waiting for Bruce’s arrival. Ryan worked very long night shifts so she was my late afternoon/night babysitter:) We were up until midnight wrapping Christmas presents and making baby announcement favors with November 21st on them. After a long day, I settled down to sleep only to be woken up several times during the night. I wasn’t in any pain – I just felt like I had to pee every hour or two. It was more annoying than anything as I was trying to get my last night of sleep before the baby arrived. This continued through the night, with my not thinking anything of it.

The next morning (11/20) mom and I were headed to the hospital for routine pre-admission testing and paperwork followed by plans for a nice breakfast. I drove.

When I got to the hospital I asked where the ladies room was and the nurse took one look at me and said “You’re not having a baby in my bathroom”. I said “O no, I’m not in labor- I’ve just been going to the bathroom all night. This kid must be jumping on my bladder.”  By this time, the contractions were 1 minute apart but I was walking around with little to no pain.

I expected gut-wrenching, awful pain but it was just a little pressure – I didn’t think I could possibly be in labor. I wasn’t dilated. The baby hadn’t dropped at all and my water didn’t break. How could I be in labor?

I was quickly wheeled up to Labor and Delivery and strapped to a monitor. They confirmed I was in labor but this baby was not coming on his own. They moved up my C-Section to today. I called Ryan and told him to come over – we’re having a baby today! I remember thinking “but my birth announcements have tomorrow’s date on them!”

Sitting in bed waiting I was more than a little annoyed that I didn’t get to have breakfast. I was starving so they handed me ice chips. Oh yummy. While they planned to have me in the OR asap, there was a lost ambulance with a woman having twins on its way to the hospital. They needed to leave the OR open until she got there. So, I had to wait…. and wait…. another 12 hours of waiting to be exact. And another 12 hours of not eating. Yeah – I was cranky.

Finally, close to 7pm we were in the OR getting ready to meet our little boy. The dreaded time came for the anesthesiologist to give me a spinal. It didn’t go very well. They wouldn’t let Ryan stay with me which made me more upset. The anethiaologist threatened to leave after HE told me it doesn’t hurt at all. I suggested we test that theory on him first. 

12 minutes later, Bruce was in my arms and our new life began.

I don’t think any mom forgets the day their children were born but sometimes, with all the drugs and excitement, some details could fade. With my mom’s Alzheimer’s I never take for granted what I might forget some day. It scares me that I might not be able to tell my children or grandchildren about their birth or other important things about their past.

That’s why current technology is so important in preserving memories that were once left to the brain or pen and paper. Tommee Tippee  just launched The Day Baby Was Born™, a free web application that automatically gathers information about the day your child was born, creating an online storybook with pictures and details. My favorite part of this application is that you can share it on Facebook and it collects all of the comments left in Facebook, centralizing all your well wishes and memories into 1 place. It even lets you create a letter to your baby and acts as a birth announcement too.

I started creating my story for our little girl. It was easy to sign up and get started and it made me feel better about preserving my memories so one day my daughter can read all about how special she was and how happy we were when she came into our lives- even if I’m not around or don’t have the ability to remember the details anymore.

 Disclaimer: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Tommee Tippee blogging contest for a chance to get a gift pack worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.



Tips For Squirmy Baby Diaper Changes!

Even though I still have another 3 months before our new little addition joins us, I’ve already begun stocking up on some of the baby essentials as I see great coupon and sale combinations. I’ve bought several boxes of diapers in different sizes for next to nothing.

One product I just saw recently is the  Little Movers Slip-on Diapers from Huggies. I saw an ad for it and thought this was an interesting product.

Many babies, especially as they enter those toddler years, cannot stay still for even 5 minutes while someone tries to change their diapers. So these might make it a little easier for diaper changers everywhere – they simply need to catch their little squirmer and slip the diaper on in one quick sweep. This can be done easily while holding a baby or picking them up and making it seem like a game.

When Bruce was little, he was definitely a wiggle worm. He can’t sit still now either. So, I used to have to make diaper changes interesting if I had any hope of getting him in a new diaper before he made his way across the house.

Occasionally, i had to employ some creative tricks in getting him to cooperate and settle him down so I could get him into a clean diaper.

  • We used to sing songs – The wheels on the Bus was the one song that always made him sit still, stop crying or solve whatever made my normally happy baby upset. He loved that song. So, with 1 verse of that song I could settle down the squirmy little guy.
  • I also used to make him smile at me by using eye contact and talking to him really close while I changed his diaper. He was so concentrated on my face that he had no idea what else was going on.
  • I found that as long as I used a fun voice and smiled alot, it was easy to distract him from an otherwise unpleasant task.
  • Of course, teething type toys or toys that made noise always helped in creating a distraction if I need both hands and mind on the diaper job.
  • Bruce used to like it when I made it a game and lifted both his feet up in teh air as I grasped them with 1 hand and laughed. It was fun for him and allowed me to keep him from moving while i removed and put on a diaper.
  • I set up 2 diaper stations in my home. Both are completely stocked at all times. It’s much easier to get the job done if you have all your necessary tools handy. 

I am looking forward to meeting my little girl and getting to know her personality and traits. That is always one of the most exciting parts of raising children. They are all so different and so interesting. I love it when their little personalities shine through and they show their individual personalities.  

Disclaimer: “I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Huggies blogging program, for a gift card worth $35. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”


Does Mom Really Not Have A Favorite?

I can’t even hide my excitement over the years of Barbies and doll houses in my future. I’ve already been gushing over the cute pink dresses and ballerina tutus. I went a little crazy with girl clothes on our baby registry. It was the closest thing I can do to buying them all on the spot myself. That took restraint. My house is going to look like a bubble gum factory exploded with all the pink that is about to appear.

I’ve already begun mentally decorating the nursery and dreaming about gymnastics and dance classes and mother-daughter spa days. Yes, I know I’m getting ahead of myself.

See, I know my main hope is supposed to be for a healthy baby, regardless of gender. And it is. But I can’t help the fact that I really, really wanted a girl. The obvious reasons are there – I’m a girly girl so I love the idea of doing all that girl stuff.

But there is another reason.

The last few months I’ve been worrying about the fact that for 8 years Bruce had Ryan and I all to himself. We’ve obviously bonded and have been together a long time. He’s not really the jealous type (although I do recall a day when he was much younger and I picked up a baby and he went into a state of panic that there was another baby in his mother’s arms.) and he has always loved having other kids around and been really good at sharing, even as a toddler. But after all this time what if he now feels that the baby took his spot on mommy and daddy’s priority list because we have to split our attention and he’s getting older and less reliant on us?

If this baby was a boy, would I be able to bond with it the same way and truly say I didn’t have a favorite? Would the new baby resent that Bruce had us all to himself for so long and feel like he was not as important to us as Bruce was?

I shared this with a friend of mine a few weeks ago and she said “Don’t worry about it because both of them are going to insist the other one is your favorite anyway!” As an only child, it’s hard to imagine how to juggle 2 children who are so far apart in age. Sometimes I think the age difference makes it easier but then sometimes I’m afraid the differences in needs of each child makes it that much more difficult to evenly split your affection between 2 children.

Those of you who have siblings – Did you think you were mom and dad’s favorite or did you think your sibling was? Did you feel they loved you equally?

Those with multiple children – Is a smaller age gap any easier than an 8 year age gap? Do your children ever accuse you of loving the other child(ren) more?



Great Book For Children – Flightless Goose

Bullying has become a huge issue in schools and neighborhoods across the country over the last few years. Schools have employed counselors and law enforcement officers to help kids deal with bullies and harassment in an effort to stop this behavior, or at least limit it. For younger kids, sometimes a friendly character and a creative way to approach the subject can make all the difference in learning about self worth, confidence, and acceptance of others. I love children’s books that combine all those aspects of growing up and making these important life lessons entertaining and interesting. The Flightless Goose by Eric D. Goodman manages to do this beautifully.

This book is about Gilbert – a happy, fun-loving, active goose- who suffers an accident and is left without the ability to fly. Gilbert soon learns that his friends no longer see him the same way and in time, tease him because he is different and turn him away. Gilbert becomes an outsider in his flock and one little boy in a wheel chair tries to comfort him. Gilbert eventually has the opportunity to prove that being different can sometimes be beneficial and could even save their lives. Gilbert teaches all of the other geese some valuable lessons about tolerance, awareness, acceptance and real friendship.

The book doesn’t go into details about the accident’s damage or get graphic in any way. It is very age appropriate for young children through 2nd or 3rd grade. The illustrations by, Nataliya A. Goodman,  are absolutely gorgeous. I love how she captured the main points of the story without making such a sensitive topic graphic or uncomfortable. She uses a lot of bold colors.

Since this book is a hardcover it will not tear or fall apart and can be a part of your children’s library for many, many years. And for those too young to read you will love the CD that is included. The CD includes a narrated version of the story so your child can listen to it on their own.

Bruce really liked the book. He said the pictures were his favorite part. His 1st grade teacher read it to the whole class as part of a week-long themed session on bullying. She said it was perfect for her lesson and the kids really related to and enjoyed the book.

For a preview of this book and interactive children’s activities, click here. The book’s website has some fun reading activities and questions for children as they go through parts of this book. This book can be purchased directly from the author for $15.95. You might even catch Eric Goodman at a school near you as he visits schools around the country to share his anti-bullying message.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book and cd for this review. All opinions are my own and were not influenced by anyone. I was not compensated or paid in any way for this review.

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