The Powerful Words that Mean So Much

Last night, my son had a baseball game.  Husband was coaching.  I was running the dugout.  Our boys faced a tough team and played hard.  Our son had a good game but made some mistakes that don’t usually happen.  He was upset.

On the way home in the car, it was just the two of us.  We were quiet for a few minutes, just relaxing and downloading all that had happened.  Something prompted me to say, “I am proud of you”.  I saw his stress start to melt away.  He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Why would you be proud of me?”

I told him that he doesn’t have to do anything spectacular on that field for me to be proud of him.  As long as he tries his best, I will always be proud.

I reminded him that baseball is a tough sport.  There is a very good chance you will strike out, drop a ball, miss a grounder, or be called out at a base.   It is ok.  You will not be perfect every time.

There were some good things that happened on the field.  He had some good plays and hits, so we focused on those.  I reminded him that the rest of the player development will come… just to keep working hard.

The conversation could have gone a very different way in the car on the way home.  We could have focused on all that went wrong and how we were going to make it better, but instead, he needed to hear that I was proud.  And my words made a difference.

Later he told me that those words made him feel better about himself.  I hope so.  I don’t want his self-worth to be dependent upon his performance on the field.  He has a lot of heart, he loves the game, and as long as he is having fun and trying hard… I will ALWAYS be proud.

Tomorrow is a new day.

 

 

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Lessons from the Dugout

It’s hard to imagine that our baseball coaches are simply volunteers. There is a great deal of love, passion, and time that goes into a season.  My husband loves being able to coach.  I love being able to help.  One of my many responsibilities as a Team Mom is that I get to run drills with the boys on the field, I also do administrative stuff for my hubby/coach since he has a full time job, but I think my most important job is that I run the dugout.  For every game.

A lot happens in the dugout.  It is a very adventurous place.  Our son is now 11 years old, but when he and his teammaues were 9/10 and younger,  I found it was important to be in the dugout. I end up being the batting order coordinator, counselor, cheerleader, photographer, motivational speaker, nurse, aka boo boo fixer, monitor of boys climbing the fence, and trying to make sure none of the players swings a bat in the dugout.  I also am a “bat runner” or “bat girl” if you prefer.  It is fun but you have to stay on your toes.  I have to be prepared.

I make sure I have these important items in my trusty Team Mom Bag:

First Aid Kit

Medical Forms

Pens for my husband/Coach who always tends to forget his

Ice packs

Sunscreen

Extra Snacks

Water Bottles

Game Schedule/Snack Schedule

Team Spirit

I will always have a first aid kit with me for those moments where anything can happen.  Blisters, cuts, scrapes, bumps, and bruises.  This is also why I will bring a few ice packs.  (Summer Baseball is an entirely different situation… more on this later.)

Our park has asked our players to fill out medical forms in case of emergency.  I will always have those with me in a folder or notebook.

I will always bring a few extra water bottles and snack bars in case someone is starving in the dugout, or forgot to bring their water bottle.  Especially those who are running from somewhere else or forgot to eat breakfast.  Keeping in mind food allergies.

I always have a copy of the game schedule either in writing or on my phone because someone will almost always ask me about an upcoming game or when they are supposed to bring snack.

But, like I said I help out in the dugout, every game.  As the coach’s wife, he puts me to the task and trusts I will handle it.

The first couple of games are the funniest because the boys are still bonding as a team, and learning so much.  Some are climbing on everything, and some are throwing balls and/or swinging bats.  This is my job to monitor (prevent) all of this.

As the “batting order coordinator” so I have to have those boys ready to go on deck or up to bat.  No matter what.  It takes a game or two to get them to understand the timing of all of this.  When the boys were younger, sometimes it took 2 of us in the dugout… 1 for crowd control and 1 for batting order.

The first couple of games, our players can get so nervous.  I teach them to cheer each other on.  Sometimes things on the field don’t always go their way and this is an important lesson to learn.  If one of our players strikes out, I will teach they boys that as that player comes back to the dugout, that are met by their team with pats on the back and a “it’s ok, man!” or to give them a High Five.  Lift them up when they are down.  And to do that throughout the game no matter what.  Sometimes just hearing a “you can do it!” from another player can mean so much.

This is so much a part of the game.  Lifting each other up when GOOD things happen and lifting each other up when BAD things happen.

Things on the field will not go their way every single time.

Just like life…

Never DefeatedWhen things don’t go our way, it’s always nice to have a teammate, friend, family member to pat us on the back and say, “it’s ok, man!” or give us a high five for at least trying and getting out there and giving good effort.

By the end of the season, the boys are usually connected, they are teammates and friends.  They know what is expected of them in the dugout.  I don’t have to watch for swinging bats as much…or balls flying through the air, but I will see them give pats on the back and hear them give words of encouragement to their teammate when things didn’t go their way on the field.

Then I have done my job.

Sometimes, baseball is more than just baseball.

How to Prevent ‘Little League Elbow’

As a Coach of 9 and 10 year olds, my husband has always monitored the pitch count of our pitchers in a game.  He never lets them go too long.  He is always trying to prevent injury and keep those young arms healthy.

In October, our son, a 10 year old pitcher, was pitching in a game.  He said there was that “one pitch” that “hurt his elbow”.  Hmmm

Of course, we took this seriously, iced it, and kept an eye on it.  After a few days, the pain was still there.  Not good.

After my husband did some research on the internet, we knew something was up, and took him to a pediatric orthopedist.

He had ‘Little League Elbow’.

‘Little League’ What?  What in the world???

‘Little League Elbow’ is something that most commonly occurs between the ages of 8-15 in children that do a lot of OVERHAND THROWING.  It is an injury caused by OVERUSE of REPETITIVE THROWING motion.  The overuse puts too much pressure on the growth plate of inner side of elbow, where the ligament attaches to the growth plate.

HealthyChildren.org says, “Growing Bones are easily injured because the growth plate is much weaker than the ligaments and muscles that attach to it.”

We explained to the doctor that we were NOT crazy aggressive coaches but that we always kept a count of his pitches, etc. etc.

He was happy to hear that but explained to us that it’s not only PITCHING in a game but can include playing CATCHER in a game and all of the warm-up before the game and in between innings.  If a kid throws 50 pitches in a game, then plays catcher in the next few innings, this quickly adds up to 100 THROWS in a day…or more!

He also explained to us that it is not only pitching and catching in a day/game but the OTHER THROWING that we don’t think about.

How many times does he throw in PE?  How about the Fitness Program before school?  What about Recess?  How many throws happen when he’s throwing a ball up against the house in the driveway?

It all adds up.  This is why I wanted to spread the word…

It’s not all about pitching, or catching, or outfield throwing, or just baseball…it is the accumulation of it all and being young, active boys.

The doctor said to rest the arm for 3-4 weeks.  For our son, it took a little bit longer.  We were fortunate that our Fall season was getting ready wrap up so he would have a long off season to heal.  He had to wear a sling for a couple of weeks to remind him not to use his arm.  He was not very happy.  After the pain stopped, he had to do some strengthening exercises that the doctor sent us.  The doctor also said that it was ok to play basketball, or something else that uses other muscles besides the “throwing muscles”.   But, also no Frisbee, or push-ups for a while… it would put too much stress on the elbow.

It is essential to have “normal rest” after pitching which includes NO THROWING during days off and during normal play activities.  Our son has learned to use his non-dominant left arm for throwing in PE at school, etc.

Every league has different rules on resting between days they pitch but “common sense” rules for 9/10 year olds include:

Throws more than 25 pitches, good idea to rest 1 day

Throws more than 50 pitches, 2 days rest between appearances

Throws more than 70 pitches, 3-4 days rest between appearances

Do NOT throw more than 70 pitches in a day!

My husband is extra careful not to let pitchers-catch and catchers-pitch in the same day if at all possible.  Recently, we had a double header and were quickly running out of pitchers so some had to double up for some quick innings.  Again, the total THROW count was low.

So, please keep an eye on the number of throws your boys do in a day.  Add in PE, Fitness Club, Recess, outside play at home.

My son used to throw a ball against the wall in the basement before this happened.  It’s hard being such an active boy.   Again, he has learned to throw with his non-dominant left arm and has actually gotten pretty good at it.  In every challenge, you can find success….

For more information, please check out these important links about ‘Little League Elbow’

healthychildren.org

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Let’s keep those arms healthy!!

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5 Minute Mexican Chicken!

The other night I was craving Mexican food and decided to make something based on what I had in my kitchen.  We were short on time so I looked to see what I could throw together.  I happened to have the Purdue Carved Chicken Breast strips, shredded mozzarella cheese, green and red salsa and tortillas on hand.  The creative juices were flowing…I went to work.

I sprayed my skillet with nonstick cooking spray, turned it on medium heat, and added grilled chicken strips.  I used a plastic spatula (if you are using a non-stick pan) and started to cut chicken strips into smaller pieces.  I threw in some shredded cheddar, sharp cheddar, and/or some shredded mozzarella cheese in and stirred.  I love cheese in case you can’t tell.  🙂  I pulled apart a flour tortilla into small pieces and threw it in, blended and melted it all together.  That’s it, I was DONE.

5 minutes!!  No joke.

I served this with tortilla chips, desired amount of remaining cheese, green salsa, and red salsa. It was so yummy!  My family loved it!  On a day when I can plan better, I plan on serving this with guacamole, sour cream, chopped tomato, chives, etc. etc.  You can have this wonderful mixture in tortilla and make it a burrito, or put the mixture in a taco, or eat the mixture just by itself.  It is so yummy.

This is a great quick dish to make before a baseball/softball practice to give our kids lots of protein and something very filling.  This would also be a great “football game” dish when your hanging out at home with your family watching your favorite game on TV.

If you don’t want to do the refrigerated Chicken Breast Strips, you can always put some boneless/skinless chicken breasts in a slow cooker and cook it all day, then add your cooked chicken with the ingredients above to make the mixture.

Last year, we went to Epcot and ate in “Mexico” at the restaurant called, San Angel Inn.  I had a wonderful side dish there called, Chilaquiles.  It was incredibly good and when I asked the server about it, she told me all about the history of it and how to make it.  She just said to mix a corn tortilla (torn up) with shredded cheese and green salsa in a skillet with non-stick spray and blend for a very yummy side dish.  It was so tasty.

This dish is definitely inspired by the Chilaquiles!  I see several Chilaquiles recipes that are quite complicated, but this is so simple and it takes 5 minutes.  I like to get creative in the kitchen, many times making up my own dishes because I like to see how food can work together for the greatest flavor and how simple cooking can actually be.  I like to see how quickly a dish can come together.  I know many people that spend hours and hours in the kitchen cooking up the perfect masterpiece.   But with our schedules and kids, and multiple ball practices/games, music rehearsals, there is NO WAY.  I like to find the simplest, quickest, and yummiest way to cook.  And this is one of my favorites.

ingredients

Quick Mexican Chicken Mixture

  • Purdue Short Cuts Carved Chicken Breast -Original Roasted
  • Desired amount of shredded Cheese (your preference- I use Mozzarella, Sharp Cheddar, and Cheddar)
  • Flour Tortilla-tear into small pieces
  • Non-Stick Spray

Spray your Skillet with Non-Stick Spray, add Chicken and cook over medium heat, cut up chicken as you are stirring with a plastic spatula. <Multi-tasking!>

Add desired cheese and stir.

Tear Tortilla into small pieces and add to skillet, stir and spray again with non-stick spray to avoid it getting too dry.  Add any extra desired cheese.

Continue stirring and melting for another minute or so until well blended.

All done!

Serve on a plate with the mixture alone, with a tortilla as a chicken burrito, taco or whatever you desire.  Surround with tortilla chips and your favorite toppings (Guacamole, Sour Cream, Salsa, Tomatoes, etc.) and favorite cheeses.

Eat well and Enjoy!

 

The View from Behind Home Plate

Ender Inciarte

I Love Sitting Behind Home Plate.  Here is one of my favorite players… Ender Inciarte!

Lead-off Batter against the Miami Marlins.

Turner Field, Atlanta, GA …July 1, 2016

 

Ballpark Shoes can look NEW again

Do you have any shoes that have gotten super dirty and think they can’t be saved?  Do you dread having to buy your kids more shoes because they are so muddy and hate cleaning them?

Being a mom and coach of baseball, it never fails that my tennis shoes get dirty.  Really dirty… with Red Georgia Clay from the field, or mud, or grass.  Every year I try to have an extra pair of shoes just for the field.

Sometimes it is just not possible to have an extra pair of shoes.  Years ago, my arch collapsed and planters fasciitis set in, so it became imperative to have good shoes, especially when I am on my feet in the dugout or running drills with the boys on the field.  These shoes are so expensive, I was forced to find a way to clean them.

My favorite cleaning trick is whitening toothpaste and an old toothbrush!  It works wonders on solid leather tennis shoes.

If your shoes are solid leather, when you rinse them, the inside of the shoes will not get wet.  Look at the difference when I scrubbed one side of my shoe with the whitening toothpaste and an old toothbrush.  These were my “baseball shoes” from a year ago, so this is not fresh dirt…it still came off and looks like NEW.

shoes

Recently, due to new problems in my feet, I was forced to get a different kind of tennis shoe.  They have mesh on the sides and top, so when I tried to wash the soles using the toothbrush and toothpaste, the inside of the shoe got wet.  Not good.  I had to find a new way to clean them….

Perfect Example:  Yesterday, the family and I went to the ballfield to practice hitting and fielding.  I love to get out there with them and run around.  We have had so much rain here, the outfield was like a marsh pit.  The soles of my shoes got so packed with mud (since they are my only athletic shoes now) I had to do something.

20160222_082541I scraped off as much dirt outside as I could, but still my shoes were a mess.  I found 2 Foil Lasagna pans in my kitchen that I had never used, and put them to work.  Don’t worry, I won’t be using them now for Lasagna!  I put some hot water (just enough to cover the bottom) and a squirt of Dawn Dishwashing Detergent.  I swished around the detergent until it produced some bubbles and put a shoe in each pan.  I was careful not to get the water too high in the pan so the inside of my shoes would get wet.

I soaked them for about 20 minutes and was pleased to find that most of the dirt had come off and out of those pesky little grooves on the sole of the shoe.  I still used my toothbrush to scrub out the dirt in those tiny places.  My shoes were so dirty and packed with field dirt (mud really) that my shoes required a second soak.  Overall, I am pleased with the results.  I was able to remove about 99% of it.  Not bad since my shoes were really bad off.

 

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I wish I had taken a “before” picture.  The bottom of my shoes were packed with wet field dirt.

What you will need:

  • An old tshirt to wear because if you are using any brush to scrub, there is a good chance it’s going to splatter
  • For good solid Leather shoes, you will need a spare tube of Whitening Toothpaste and an old toothbrush: Please don’t use the same tube of toothpaste to brush your teeth with.  This tube of toothpaste will be declared, “For Cleaning Only” as will the toothbrush.  Eek! Lol!
  • Two Foil Lasagna pans that you can find in any grocery store. I like them because they are bendable and you can bend the pan to get to the parts of the shoe that need it most.
  • Paper Towels
  • HOT water. Fill it with just enough to cover the bottom of the pan and to the desired height to surround the sole of the shoe.
  • Dawn dishwashing detergent. I added a squirt in each pan and stirred with my fingers to produce the bubbles.  This solution will break up the dirt in the little grooves of the bottom of the shoe.
  • A toothbrush. A great tool to use for those tiny, hard to reach places.
  • After scraping as much dirt off outside that you can, let the sole of the shoes soak for about 10-15 minutes, check and see what dirt has been loosened or falling off. My shoes were so bad, I needed a second soak.  I would not recommend leaving your nice shoes in for a super long period of time as it is not good for the rubber soles.

My kids have always appreciated when I can work on their dirty, yucky, shoes and give them new life.  As they get older, it is something they can work on, too.  With a lot of desire, and a little bit of effort, it is always rewarding to make something feel and look new again.