Quote of the Week

People don't notice whether it's winter or summer
when they're happy.
~ Anton Chekhov ~



Image by: rkramer62

Who Says I Can't? (Rerun)

Allrighty, here is my final "looking back" post. I felt it was appropriate since my son sprained his ankle in his soccer game on Saturday. I'm sure he was most grateful that I happened to be away for the weekend. Enjoy!

(Originally posted: 6-16-09)

I saw this really funny Mother’s Day card back in May. It had a picture of a 1950’s June Cleaver style mom, complete with pearl necklace—her arm around a pouting, incredibly sad-looking little boy. And the caption read something like: “You stay right here sweetie, while mommy goes and gives that mean old bully a smackdown.”

That totally cracked me up! Because, it’s so true. Any mom will tell you, mess with our kids and you’ll bring out our inner lioness.

And it’s not just confined to dealing with bullies. It makes no difference if they’re toddlers, or teens (who are bigger than we are), the instinct to protect our cubs arises in any situation where we feel our child is in peril.

The other day my 14-year-old son, Joshua’s, soccer team was playing in the pouring rain. While we parents stood on the sidelines, sinking into the mud, I suddenly noticed Joshua double over, then raise his hand in a request to come off the field.

He NEVER does that.

He sat down on the bench, remaining doubled over, his arms wrapped tightly around his ribs.

“Why is Joshua doing that? Did anybody see what happened?” I asked anxiously.

I received several negative murmurs in response.

“Is it his ribs? Did someone hit him in the ribs?”

“Dunno.”

“Didn’t see.”

I waited several long minutes, my eyes glued to Joshua’s still doubled-over form.

“I’m going over there,” I announced, and began marching around the field’s perimeter.

“You can’t do that.”

I was halted by another team member’s father.

“Why not.”

“You have to wait and see if the coach waves you over.”

“Why?”

“That’s just how it works.”

“But the coach isn’t even looking at him! He’s watching the game!”

The man shrugged sympathetically.

“Well that’s just stupid!” I fumed, sloshing back through the mud. “What if something is really wrong? What if one of his ribs is broken?” What if he needs emergency medical attention?

(Have I mentioned before that I tend to have a somewhat, er high-strung personality type? Anyway…)

I stood there waiting a few more minutes. Joshua remained doubled over.

“This is ridiculous,” I finally said. “That’s it. I’m going over there.”

“Don’t do it.” Another dad stood in my path.

“Why can’t I go over there?” I was whining now.

He proceeded to share a story with me, about how when he was 15, and playing baseball, a boy on his team got hit by the ball. The boy’s teammates helped him off the field and onto a bench in the dugout. The boy’s mother raced over and said (in front of everyone) “Are you okay, sweet pea! Let mama check out that bump?” Naturally, the kid was mortified. Probably scarred for life.

“But I would never call Joshua, ‘sweet pea’!” I huffed.

The dad just shook his head at me.

I stood there several MORE minutes, sighing dramatically every few seconds.

“Would you like ME to go over and check on him?” he finally offered, taking pity on me. (Or possibly hoping to escape my dramatic sighing.)

I turned hopeful eyes toward him. “Would you?!”

The nice man trudged around to the other side of the field. I saw him speak briefly to Joshua—STILL doubled over—then he trudged back.

“Well? Should I call an ambulance?”

“It’s just a stomach ache,” he grinned.

“Oh. Uh—thanks.” I mumbled sheepishly.

For the remainder of the game, though, I wondered why it was okay for ANOTHER player’s dad to walk over there, but not the player’s mom. Weird ‘sweet pea’ mom story aside, who made up this unwritten rule that if a kid gets hurt on the field, it’s NOT okay for the mom to check on her very own child?

I posed that very question to my son later, as we drove home from the game.

My boy stopped toweling dry his hair, turned his beautiful dark eyes in my direction, and answered me. “Kids did, mom. Kids made up that rule.”

“Oh.”

Gym Class Evolution (Rerun)

As I mentioned last week, I'm using January to take a look back and share some of my favorite posts from previous years. Of course my son just informed me that I'm "cheating." Hmph! Anyway, this entry was originally posted back on 10-23-08. Enjoy!)

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

Quote of the Week

Chicago Reliance Building - designed by Burnham & Root (1891)

"Make no little plans;
they have no magic to stir men's blood."
~ Daniel Burnham ~

Image by: Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

Scholarships (Rerun)

Hello dear readers. I thought it might be fun to take a look back at a few of my more er...interesting posts from the previous year or so. (Sort of the way the newspapers look back over their top stories from the previous year.) Anyway, I'm SO glad I don't currently have to deal with the subject matter of my post from January 28, 2010 right now. As my boy is only a sophomore in high school, I have a breather. But for all you poor suckers who are in the midst of applying to colleges and searching for those elusive scholarships (heh, heh!), ENJOY!

(Originally posted: 1-28-10)

Once our daughter's high school play finished up in the fall, she tried unsuccessfully to get a job. You'd think retail shops would've at least been hiring temporary help in preparation for the holiday season. But, no.

So we decided that instead of looking for a job, her new job would be applying for college scholarships. Ideally, she's devoting around 10 hours a week—the same hours an outside-the-home part-time job would require—applying for scholarships.

Initially we were having her do all the legwork in terms of seeking out scholarships for which she was qualified. We quickly realized, however, this was using up too much of her time. So instead, her father and I became her assistants. It's our job to identify the scholarships. We turn them over to her and it's her job to research and write the essays, fill out the applications and submit them by their respective deadlines.

While using online searches, fastweb.com and a massive, 2-inch thick book on scholarships available across the country, I've encountered an awful lot of very specific, and er—unique scholarships.

The other day, after reading one entry, I sighed loudly to my hubs. "Oh darn it, honey. We could have had Ashleigh apply for this scholarship for nudists, but we would have had to have been practicing nudists for at least a year before applying. What a bummer!"

Without glancing up, he flipped a page of his newspaper and replied, "That's all right. We can join now. Then we'll be in plenty of time for Josh in three years."

Yup. Great sense of humor, that guy.

Anyway, in order to save you research time and help plan ahead for those not yet in the market for college scholarships, I thought I'd give you a quick summary of what's out there:

Got Milk? Consider the National Dairy Shrine Scholarship. It's for those entering a 4-year university to major in dairy/animal science with a communications emphasis.

Prom is several months away. So your child and his or her date still have plenty of time to create their prom attire made entirely of duct tape. Then they'll be eligible to enter the Duct Brand Duct Tape Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest!

Are you into languages? Pretend languages? Well then maybe you should apply for the Klingon Language Institute Award.

This scholarship "quacks" me up! There is up to $2,000 available for winners of the Chick & Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Contest.

It's in the cards, especially if you're a high school or college bridge player under the age of 26.

Standing tall? One thousand bucks to a college-bound high school senior girl over 5'10".

Excellence in Predicting the Future Award! Okay, this one just sounded funny, but in all fairness, this scholarship is for students interested in economics.

Thinking about majoring in bagpipe? Carnegie Mellon University Bagpipe Scholarship awards one applicant every year a $7,000 scholarship to study bagpipe.

Giddyap all you students who have shown achievement with Morgan horses. Not any other kind of horses. Just Morgan horses.

If you are the legal dependent of a travel plaza/truck-stop industry employee, you're in luck!

If you are a graduating high school senior with a GPA between 3.5 and 3.74, this one's for you.

And finally, we have the Society of Vacuum Coaters Foundation Scholarship. Wow, I learn something new every day. I had no idea vacuums even wore coats!

Oh, hey! I think I've actually found one for ya', Ashleigh! It's a scholarship specifically for left-handed people. This is great, it's worth up to $5,000! It—oh, wait. It says you have to be left-handed AND attending Juniata College in Pennsylvania. Bummer.

Like I said. Very specific.

Image by: dbdbrobot

Quote of the Week

Happy New Year!  Here's my first "Quote of the Week" to start you off in 2011...

“Don’t ask what the world needs.
Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs
is people who have come alive.”
~ Howard Thurman ~


Image by: Y