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.

Quick 10 Minute Quesadillas

Always on the run?  Here is another quick 10 minute meal.  This time, yummy Quesadillas!  A crowd pleaser for sure!

You will need:

  • a package of large flour tortillas
  • 1 lb. of ground beef or ground turkey
  • shredded cheese of your liking.  I like Mozzerella, Cheddar, Mexican style
  • diced tomato, if desired
  • sour cream, salsa, guacamole, used as dips
  • Tortilla Chips

Brown ground beef or ground turkey, your choice!  As your meat is cooking, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and minced onions.

When your meat is all cooked… drain.  While your meat is draining in a separate drainer, wipe the excess grease out of your skillet with a clean cloth or paper towels, careful not to burn yourself.

Spray skillet with non-stick spray.  On low/medium heat, add a tortilla in the skillet, spread the cheese FIRST, this will help everything adhere.  Top with meat, sprinkle AGAIN with shredded cheese on the other side of the meat, and diced tomato, if desired.  Place another tortilla on top of the meat mixture and spray with non-stick spray (for flavor and to keep it from getting too dry).  Cook on Low/Medium Heat for 3-4 minutes until all has melded together, pressing with your spatula so everything will stick together.  Tortillas should be sticking to the meat mixture, compliments of the cheese.

Remove from skillet and put on a plate…cut quesadillas into quarters or eighths, depending on who you need to feed.  If you need to cook more, just repeat steps above.

My family loves these so I will make the first large quesadilla and put in the oven to keep warm while I am cooking the second.  This way everything is warm at the same time.

I love to serve this with tortilla chips and sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole for dipping.

You can get super fancy with this and serve with rice, beans, tortilla chips, etc.  This is also a very simple, quick, filling way to get some protein into your kids after those practices or during the weekend when you are at home watching your favorite sporting event.

Enjoy!

cheese-quesadilla
Place the tortilla in a warm skillet and top with your choice of cheese.
beef-quesadilla
Then add a layer of ground beef or chicken, if you desire a cheese quesadilla, you can skip this step.
building-the-quesadilla
Add another layer of your favorite cheese(s).  Putting cheese on either side of the meat will help the quesadilla stick together.
finished-quesadilla
Dinner is done!  Serve with tortilla chips and your favorite dips (quacamole, sour cream, salsa, cheese sauce, etc. etc.)  A crowd pleasure for sure.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

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!

 

Make Your Practices Count

We’re back at it!  Fall Baseball has started up.  Softball too.  We are so busy running from one practice to another… and Marching Band also.  We will sleep when our kids are in college.. hopefully.  LOL  This is why I haven’t posted in a while…life has been so busy for us.

With our season underway, it got me thinking about how busy we are and how to best use our time.  Our practice time also.  We’ve seen several different coaching styles through these last 16 seasons that our kids have played baseball/softball.  Most of them my husband and I were in charge of.  Some teams, we have been coached by others.  It’s interesting to see the differences in coaching styles but this is what I’ve seen work best.

Know the names of your kids!  Coaches, as you are starting your new season, as a mom…. I beg beg beg of you to learn and know the names of your kids on your team.  I know this sounds simple… but after several weeks, our son’s coach was STILL calling my son by the wrong name.  He saw it in writing, he was corrected dozens of times, but wouldn’t you know… he STILL called my son by the wrong name.  This is not going to make the kids on your team happy or make them feel like they can trust you when you are shouting at them from the dugout and not calling them by their REAL name.  It doesn’t make their parents too happy either.  😉

Have a Practice Plan and Stick to it.  Seriously…Write it out.  Schedule in every little thing.  Do you need to talk about something?  Schedule adequate time.  Do you need to teach a certain skill?  Allow time to teach and execute.  We’ve seen so many practices where kids are on the field standing around where one kid has batting practice.  There are so many things to work on.

Set Skill Stations!  Depending how many coaches you have or talented baseball dads that can help (please don’t ask just anyone), it’s a good idea to have small groups go to 3 to 4 different stations to work on basic fundamentals.  This way all of your players are working on something at the same time and no one is standing around.  Rotate stations about every 10-20 minutes until everyone has had a chance to be in all stations.  It is so important to practice the basic fundamentals at every practice for success in a game.  And don’t waste your time practicing something that really doesn’t matter (like pick-off plays) if your team can’t do the basics like catch a fly ball or throw accurately to get someone out on base.

Suggested Stations include:  fielding ground balls (every practice), catching fly balls (every practice), batting (every practice), throwing accurately (you can work on this in the fielding ground balls and catching ground balls station), catching infield pop flys, pitching, catching, base running, bunting, etc.  Your stations can be set by the need of the team that week.  My husband used to bring a hand held size notebook and when he would see something in a game that needed to be worked on, he would write it down and address it at the next practice.   (schedule it in) 🙂

Develop your Pitchers and Catchers!  The success of your team will revolve around your pitchers and catchers!  Develop them.  Teach them.  Practice with them.  Give them the experience.  You will need plenty of players that can do this.  Give them a chance.  And you might even uncover a hidden talent that a kid didn’t even know they had.  Even if you don’t have the strongest team, the success of your team will revolve around your pitchers and catchers!  It makes me crazy to see coaches using the same 2 or 3 kids as pitchers AND catchers.  This will wear out their arms.  Please don’t let this happen to you or your kid.  See my post on How to Prevent Little League Elbow

Don’t Talk Too Much!  If you need to explain something or talk to your team, allow time for that.  Often times, we have seen coaches that will talk and talk and talk and lose valuable practice time, instead of cutting off their speech at a suitable amount of time, when their team is zoning out.  If you talk too much, your players will lose interest.  And I’m a big fan of the best baseball players being the best listeners!  Is your athlete coachable? But… speeches should be efficient, effective, short, and sweet.

Parents are happier when they see their kids working hard at practice instead of seeing them stand around at the chance of a ball coming their way.  Parents also want to feel better at how they and their child are spending their time.  As a coach, you want to teach your players the game of baseball by working on the skills needed to play. The game of baseball/softball can be slow… and practices can be also.  If you let it.  Let’s give our kids the tools needed to play in such an efficient way because, let’s face it, we’re all busy, and time is short.

Enjoy.  Live.  And Play Ball.

 

 

 

 

Playing Baseball in the HEAT-Spring Edition

As the weather gets warmer, it’s time to start thinking a little differently in terms of playing baseball in the HEAT.  In Georgia, it is not uncommon for it to get to 80 degrees in April.  Then, put a team of 9/10 year olds on the field in the direct sun during long innings, and you can have a little situation on your hands.

The players get extremely hot and sometimes overheated during times like these, so here are some tricks to keep your players healthy and cool:

*Make sure they hydrate 2 days before, as well as the day of your game.  If you wait until the day of your game, by then it is too late.  I heard this from Tom Glavine of the Atlanta Braves when he was asked, “How do you survive playing in 100 degree heat?”  That was his answer. You have to hydrate 2 days before your game…If the body is well hydrated, your player will have a better chance of feeling better during the game, playing better, have less cramping, and a better chance of not getting overheated.

*NO DAIRY in the morning if they have a game before noon.  I have seen a few players have some stomach issues because they had yogurt or other dairy products for breakfast before a 9:00am game in the hot weather.  Not a good idea.  Did you guys hear about the time that Justin Bieber threw up on stage during his concert because he drank milk right before he went on?  Yuck!  You get the idea….

*Have your child drink plenty of water, Powerade, Gatorade, etc. DURING the game….make sure your player has a full thermos of ice water and drink it every chance they get.  Please remind them that it’s important to stay on top of it and drink BEFORE they get too hot or thirsty.

On really hot days, I will take ice packs or a sandwich bags filled with ice, put them in a cooler and let the boys put them on the back of their necks and wrists to cool them down between innings.  They are so grateful that someone recognizes that they need this.  I also have the little fans that can hang around their necks so they can feel some cool air blowing on their face.  It’s not a bad idea to ask the parents to purchase a FrogTog towel for their player since it stays cool, it can go around the neck, and they can cool down in between innings.

Afterwards, I’ve seen my son play a hot game but not seem to be able to get his energy back in the hours following the game.  His pediatrician had already told me to give him on Carnation Instant Breakfast to help him catch up with his weight… but… this drink also gives great energy since it is filled with vitamins and nutrients, so I decided to use it as a post-game recovery drink.

It works wonders.

I mix the Chocolate Carnation powder with 12 ounces of whole milk and he has a nice, cool, refreshing drink that helps him feel full, cooled down, and revitalized. I had already heard that Chocolate Milk is good for muscle recovery, and with Carnation being a Nutritional Drink, it got my wheels turning and I decided to make it into a smoothie.

It just hits the spot.  I use it myself after a workout and it is perfect.

I use:

  • 12 ounces of milk… for kids I use whole milk since my son is a little underweight, for myself I use skim milk.
  • 1 Carnation Instant Breakfast Powder Packet – Chocolate or Vanilla Flavor–or Protein Powder for Adults
  • Frozen Blueberries (a handful) if desired—acts as the ice cubes in your smoothie
  • Banana
  • 1 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter
  • For Fun: I just MIGHT put a scoop of chocolate or vanilla ice cream– just for my son, not for me. 🙂
  • For Adults:  I will put in 1 Tablespoon of Chia Seeds and/or Flax Seed

Also, with smoothies it is suggested that you put them in your blender in this order:

  1. Liquid first—this will help your blades move easily when you turn on your blender
  2. Powders next—protein powder, cocoa powder, Carnation Instant Breakfast.
  3. Soft Foods—Bananas, etc.
  4. Hard Foods—frozen fruits, raw veggies
  5. Ice Cubes—LAST! They will help the blades pull all the other ingredients down.

I found a pack of Smoothie Straws that help drinking these a lot easier.

We play a month of summer baseball and it is an entire different “ballgame” in terms of staying cool.   The heat index can easily get up to 100 degrees.  I will post about “survival tips” in ‘Playing Baseball in the Heat-Summer Edition’ very soon.

In the meantime, Stay cool, friends, and have a great Spring!

 

 

 

 

 

To Our Amazing Softball Girls!

This game teaches important lessons that you will take with you in life.

It teaches perseverance, it builds character, it builds strength.

It builds confidence.

In your time of struggles, your determination and commitment will help you accomplish something new you didn’t know you could do before.

Show ’em what you’re made of, Softball girl!

Go. Be. Great.

 

Thank a Coach!

Thank you to our coaches who give so much

of their energy and time to helping our kids

learn the game of baseball and softball.

They are VOLUNTEERS, which means that they CHOOSE to be there!

Thank you for teaching good sportsmanship,

not to give up,

and how to be part of a team.

We thank you all so much for everything you do!

Is your Athlete Coachable?

My son attended a baseball camp with Greg McMichael, former pitcher with the Atlanta Braves.  At the beginning of camp, he sat the boys down and talked to them a for a bit, the parents got to stand in the back and listen to what he had to say.  He had a wealth of knowledge, a ton of experience, and was great to listen to.  One thing that he said really stuck with me.  It was, “I can tell which boys are going to be the BEST players by how much they LISTEN.”  This has stuck with me for a few years.  It is true.

My husband and I have managed/coached 2 teams a year over the past 5 years.  We have seen the “coachable” players that have been an absolute pleasure to coach and be around.  We’ve also seen the ones that are constantly talking, running their mouth, arguing with everything you say, wanting to “prove” themselves.

The “coachable” ones will go far in life.  They are hungry for information.  They are willing to learn.  They are willing to do what you suggest to help them get better.  They are respectful and well mannered.  They ride the wave with you.  They are not doormats but they do what you suggest and keep trying…and with a great attitude.

The coach makes a huge difference in the learning and motivation of your child but if you are fortunate enough to have an awesome coach that you trust, then it’s much more crucial to be a “coachable” kid…and to be “coachable” parents, too.

The talkative/argumentative players keep talking about how THEY think things should be.  I was warming up with the softball girls at practice, throwing pop fly balls so they could practice their catching.  One softball girl actually said to me that she was “too good to be doing this”.  I was stunned that a child would actually say such a thing about basic fundamentals… but… she was the one who later as the pitcher, missed catching a basic pop fly as it came to her in a game.

We are never “too good” to keep trying.

We are never “too good” to keep working HARD.

We are never “too good” to listen.

and never EVER “too good” to keep learning…

Every. Single. Day.

Catcher

 

 

Team Mom: How to Accommodate Multiple Food Allergies on your Team

With coaching baseball for a long time and managing several teams, there comes the issue of post-game snack and food allergies.  We want everyone to be safe, yet be able to enjoy the snack after the game with everyone else.

I always ask the parents at the beginning of the season if there are any food allergies.  I’ve had those parents that don’t want to tell me because they don’t want their child to be embarrassed, and then some don’t want to say because they don’t want the other parents to have to worry about accommodating their child.

On the other hand, I’ve had some that WOULD like for their child not be left out of post-game snack.

I agree.

Personally, I want everyone to be able to enjoy the snack/drink/party food so we try to accommodate as much as possible.  Usually the parents on our team want the same thing.

Last season, we had 3 different food allergies on the same team.  Peanut, Egg, and Tree Nut.  This was the first time we had had multiple food allergies on one team in the same season.  I had asked the parents of the kids with the allergies to give me some snack suggestions but I didn’t hear back from them.  I think they were afraid to suggest something that could possibly be harmful for the other food allergy?  I’m not sure.

At first thought, you would think it would be extremely hard to find a variety of common safe foods for all…. but, this is NOT true. It was actually VERY EASY.

I googled “snacks free of peanut/egg/tree nuts” and found http://snacksafely.com/snacklist.pdf.  There is a long list of safe snack foods for these food allergies.  It was incredibly simple and took 2 minutes!

So, every week leading up to our games, I sent a snack/drink reminder 2 days prior to our scheduled game and telling the parents what allergies we had (but not who had them), and the link with the long list of foods that they can choose from.

It was a great resource to have and it made it easy finding safe foods that could accommodate everyone.  I had a great group of parents that were very happy to help.

So, if your child has a food allergy, don’t be afraid to speak up.  There are several different websites that I found that have GREAT IDEAS of foods to enjoy that accommodate several different allergies.

http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2012/10/18/25-allergy-friendly-snacks-for-your-child-with-special-needs/

http://jazzyallergyrecipes.blogspot.com/p/egg-free-dairy-free-nut-free-snack-list.html

http://islandpicnic.com/recipes/snacks-desserts/20-allergy-friendly-after-school-snacks-milk-egg-nut-free/

http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/page/recipes-diet.aspx

If you are a team mom and trying to find safe foods for your team, or have a child with food allergies, I hope these links will help you.  In the end, the parents on your team will ultimately decide if they feel comfortable with their child eating was has been brought.  I have found it is better to have a pre-packaged snack instead of a homemade snack, so the label can be read carefully, and possible cross contamination from a kitchen can be avoided.

In the end, we want everyone to be safe and have a great baseball/softball experience!

Do you have any snack ideas to help with the different food allergies?  Helpful links or recipes?

Please share them with me… I would love to know more and can pass them on.