I don’t typically delve into the political arena in my blog—preferring instead to discuss the intricacies of life as a writer and perimenopausal mom of teens. But as I was driving to an appointment today, my attention was caught by these election signs in one of my neighbor’s yards. I had to laugh out loud. I think their yard signs clearly exemplify what is going on in our nation over the upcoming election.

Hopefully this family has respectfully agreed to disagree!

Gym Class Evolution

When I was a kid, picking sports teams in gym class consisted of the really athletic kids being automatically selected as captains by the gym teacher. They’d move up to the front of the room and divide the wheat from the chaff as the rest of us sat on the scuffed-up gymnasium floor.

Anybody from that era remember the small, scrawny kid sitting off to the side? Always the last one chosen, usually by default because nobody else was left. Yeah. That was me.

I hated most sports and I was terrified of the ball. Every ball. The only sport I was decent at was dodgeball due to my horrific fear of being hit by a ball thrown by one of those missile-launching boys. I ducked, hopped, dove and rolled out of the way. Of course, I couldn’t throw the dumb thing, but I could get out of the way real quick when I had to.

Throughout my youth, I completely lacked confidence in my athletic abilities. It wasn’t until I reached 44 years of age and took an eight-week soccer class with some other soccer moms that I scored the first goal of my life.

My 14-year-old son happens to be one of those “athletic” kids. He enjoys participating in a variety of sports, soccer being his favorite. He was recently describing his gym class to me. And I was amazed at how much it has changed since I was a kid.

His gym teacher started a new unit on soccer. He asked for a show of hands to find out who already knew how to play the game. He then pulled my son, and a few of the other soccer-knowledgeable students aside. He explained they would be the coaches for this unit. Their jobs were to instruct and encourage. The coaches were each assigned a group of randomly selected students, and for the first day they worked with their group, teaching them the basic skills necessary to play soccer.

The next day, the coaches met and divided the students amongst themselves. The coaches with the most experience selected more of the struggling players to be on their teams. It was the coaches’ job to create balanced teams, so that no team was stacked in terms of talent. The players for each team were announced in no particular order. Then the games began.

My son explained that if at any time one team started getting too far ahead in scoring, as coaches they would switch players around to create more evenly matched play--the ultimate goal being to have great games. He animatedly described how he worked with his team and how impressed he had been in their first game as they passed the ball, worked together, and successfully scored. Some of the children who normally shied away from athletics, enjoyed being part of a team and were thrilled to score some goals.

How cool is that?

In effect, that gym teacher took the kids like me, and boosted their confidence a hundredfold. Maybe the kid like me is now thinking, “Wow, that was fun!” Or maybe it simply planted a seed and they’ll consider pursuing a different sport down the road somewhere. Who knows what good will ultimately come from this. Instead of learning to play favorites, loading a team up with their buddies and the athletically gifted, these students learned compassion, good leadership skills, and that the goal of a good coach is to teach and support, building up the abilities of their players.

At the very least, it’s nice to know there are some middle schoolers out there who won’t have to wait until they are 44 years old to score their first goal.

Image by Goldberg

Blog Action Day: And The Topic is Poverty

I remember when I was a kid, my mother told me to eat everything on my plate because there were children starving over in China who would have loved to eat what I wanted to throw away. (Actually, I think that line was in the official “Book of Best Mom Lines” back then.)

Of course, we kids never understood what good it would do for poor starving Chinese children, if we stuffed ourselves with a few more lima beans.

Well, today is officially Blog Action Day, and the topic is poverty. Poverty is not only a worldwide issue. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, “nearly 13 million children in the United States—18% of all children here—live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level--$21,200 year for a family of four.” The majority of these children have parents who work, but low wages and unstable employment leave them struggling to make ends meet.

Poverty can impact a child’s ability to learn, and contributes to poor mental and physical health. It is one of the greatest threats to our children’s welfare.

So what you can we do? Check out this link to find out more: NCCP

And I love promoting this site every so often. Help stop worldwide hunger with a simple click: Click to Give

Birthday Protest

Okay, I know this is going to sound like sour grapes since I already wrote Mother's Day Protest back in May, but now I’m having a Birthday Protest. I think birthdays should be on weekends. I can be a bit flexible here, they can be held on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, whichever day works best for the birthday person’s schedule.

I don’t really know how we managed it when I was a kid, but somehow we were always able to celebrate the birthday on the actual birth date for all my family members. The birthday person got to pick what the entire family would eat for dinner, and what kind of Mommy-made cake we’d eat. Then everyone would gather ‘round for the card & gift opening.

My brother’s family makes birthdays like holidays, with no chores and no school (they homeschool) for the birthday child. Such fun. Sigh.

Being raised like I was, it became ingrained in me to celebrate the birthday on the birth date. Well, my birthday was last Thursday. And when you have older children, especially older children involved in fall sports, weekday birthdays simply don’t work.

To start my special day, I got to do an unpleasant chore—taking our dog, Oreo, to the vet. Oreo has been suffering from a severe ear infection that has not yet been resolved. I got to endure a 1-1/2 hour, $250 doggie doctor appointment, where my pup cried in pain over his ear being swabbed and checked. It was heart wrenching!

After that I came home to bake and frost my own cake (which is never a good idea, see: You Take the Cake.) I had to bake it myself though because everyone else was too busy with sports practices, homework and club meetings. And my hubby was in Slovakia for work. (Where in the world is Slovakia anyway?!)

Next, I got to attend a sporting event. I really do love watching my kids participate in their various sports. But Thursday dawned cold, and wet. So I got to sit in a 45-degree rain (which ruined my perfectly fluffed birthday ‘do) on hard, cold, metal benches for an hour watching my son’s middle school soccer game.

I stubbornly held out hope that all was not lost however, because my hubby returned from Slovakia by 4:30 p.m., and we returned from my son’s game by 5:00 p.m. But where was my daughter? At a drama rehearsal for a school production from which she didn’t get home until 8:00 p.m. By that time hubby Chris was almost unconscious due to Slovakian jet lag, the kids were exhausted, and someone mumbled something about not wanting cake, but that I should go ahead and open my cards. I stuck my nose in the air, sniffed, and replied in my best pouty child voice “I’m not celebrating until everybody is 'into it'!”

Soooo, everybody went to bed by 9:00 p.m., and there I sat all alone. Well, except for the dog. I knew he’d eat cake with me, and be “into it,” but since it had chocolate frosting he couldn’t have any. (Chocolate is toxic to dogs.)

Nope, that is NOT how birthdays should be.

I didn’t open a single card or giftie on my “real” birthday. My chocolate cake sat pristine and untouched beneath the cake cover. And I decided to officially switch my birthday to the weekend this year.

I announced my decision, and when Saturday rolled around we celebrated. I didn’t do any chores all day. We ate a nice dinner that I didn’t cook, ate my cake with ice cream, and I opened all my cards and presents. It was relaxed and fun just the way a birthday should be.

So what do you think? Should birthdays always be on weekends?

Image by: Radiant Guy