Thursday, October 9, 2014

Why College Football Is Like Raising Kids


I am a college football loving mama living in the deep south, and if there one thing you need to know about my ‘type,’ it’s that during the months of September, October, and November, we could care less about pumpkin spice flavored everything, cardigan sweater trends, and autumn foliage covered tablescapes.  What we do care passionately about, and spend every Saturday in the fall obsessing over, is all things pigskin. You won’t find any of us having a mani/pedi, or attending a garden club luncheon on a sunny Saturday afternoon. And southern girls know better than to throw any type of girlie shower on a Saturday in the fall. You will, however, spot us at our alma mater’s tailgate, transforming your average parking lot into the center of spirited fandom, where your trunk opens up and out spills a dazzling cocktail party. Oozing southern hospitality, and a football I.Q. that could rival an ESPN commentator, you’ll find us southern women happily dishing out pimento cheese dip, fried chicken, and smoked pulled pork. And most likely, at the tailgate party, there will mini versions of us, clad in their spirit wear, tossing footballs, tossing back the grub, and later that day tossing UP the mayonnaise laden dip that sat out in the sun all afternoon. (It’s ok, it was worth it.)  Anyway, it was after a particularly nail biting, fist clenching, hoarse voice inducing, battle on the gridiron last weekend that it hit me. It hit me as hard as a division one linebacker whizzing past the left offensive tackle,  and easily taking out the QB on the blind side. Turns out, raising kids is a helluva lot like college football- in its plays, its penalties, its screaming audibles (Clean. Your. Room. NOW), its highest of high wins, and its lowest of lows agony of defeats. Similarities? I have a few…..

Encroachment 

Oh attachment parenting how I loved thee. Until I didn’t love thee. Until one day, four kids in, I decided I wanted everyone on the proverbial OTHER side of the line. I needed those ten years I lived without any shred of personal space BACK, and I needed them now. Sure, I can still hug and cuddle my little ones, but the big boys who I am now forced to look UP to? They scare me. I am the undersized offensive lineman looking deep into the face of a much larger D-back. Please teenage boy who just inhaled two rotisserie chickens, don’t jump over here and startle me. 

Hands to the Face

I cherished those times feeding a baby in my lap, with their big, round glossy eyes staring up at me, and those soft padded little fingertips reaching up to touch my face, squeeze my nose, or stroke my cheek. But in no way, shape, or form do I want any of my boys touching me in the face now. It’s just not precious anymore. Please, no poking, flicking, jabbing, nose grabbing, or cheek stroking with your perpetually sticky hands ever again.  (Unless one of you boys become a makeup artist, then yes, you have full access to my face. Bring your airbrush.) 

Unnecessary Roughness

Seriously?  I have four sons. My life is one big roughness penalty after the next.  Everything in my house is broken, and we have a frequent punch card for the local hospital’s emergency room, and also one for our town’s window glass replacement business. We live in a constant state of who has the purple egg on their forehead today? Need to do some concussion research? Come on over. 

Overtime

Parenting. Just when you think it’s over, it’s SOOOO NOT over. Ever. Finally got newborn to sleep after three hours of pacing the floor? He wakes up two seconds after you put him down. Overtime.  All the kiddos tucked in for the night? 3 a.m. violent stomach virus. Overtime. Just found out science project is due tomorrow? Worst. Overtime. Ever. Hope you are hydrated mama, because life is parenting in overtime.  And this game is really never over.

The Upset


You are rockin’ the mom thing hard, your kitchen floor is clean, the laundry is done, and the  family is running like a boss on all cylinders. Reports cards are full of A’s, the kids are actually being nice to each other, and you went on a date night with your husband and agreed on both the restaurant AND the movie. Hoorah! Enjoy it while it lasts, because you are just one burnt dinner away from a cataclysmic series of false starts, personal fouls, and a pick six which will lead to #1 being knocked off their pedestal, and the entire family spiraling down into meltdown-dom. Man up mom, you got next week’s dinner…err….game to redeem yourself. 

Cover Two, Man On Man, Zone Defenses


There you are, just you and your husband and your first baby. It is a cover two defense in reverse, your sweet baby covered with two sets of eyes at all times.  It is the easiest you will ever have it, and the irony is you won’t realize it until your cover two becomes man to man when baby #2 arrives, and then full blown zone defense when baby #3 and 4 join the team. By that point,  you and your husband have  become masters of the hand off, the bootleg, the scramble, and the quarterback sneak. Four kids deep and I have settled into a prevent defense (just feed them and keep them alive), and now I’m just trying to run out the clock by bench sitting comatose, waiting for the second string to show up to relieve me.

Hail Mary


You’ve got one in you moms. We all do. So when all of the above yellow flags are tossed at you, and you are backed up on your own 30, and down by three late in the fourth quarter, go ahead and wing it. Just say a prayer, call your girlfriends, and schedule the mom version of the zero time on the clock touchdown- a girl’s night out. Because sometimes the best call in the huddle is

“GNO, 7 p.m., ASAP….hut, hut, hut…..”








Saturday, October 4, 2014

Target And Too Sexy Clothes For Girls- A Boy Mom Perspective

Girl's Activewear Shorts At Target
(Silver? One inch inseam?) 



A recent article on Huffington Post about Target Store's response to growing complaints about the types of clothes they are selling in the young girl's department has received an overwhelming and passionate response from mothers of young girls nationwide.  As a mom of four sons,  I have never really looked at the girl's clothes in depth, but I do catch a glimpse of the itty bitty shorts and teensy weensy tops now and then. (I am also lucky to never having had to deal with clothing battles. Low maintenance boys have their privileges)  Ironically enough, the same day I read the Target response, I found myself in a back and forth commenting battle with mothers complaining that they are tired of school dress codes. Evidently  they are tired of their daughters being humiliated and shamed by being singled out and called out of class to the office,  and having to  await a change of clothes. I reminded them if they do not agree with the school's dress code, they should seek other schooling options. But no, that was not enough. They demanded that girl's bodies stop being shamed, that in no way is dressing in revealing clothes disrespectful, and why do we need a code governing what we can wear.  At that point, I had realized common sense had left the building. When a discussion about how there is a certain level of decorum and expectations in what you wear in schools and the workplace had now turned into how someone's 'feelings' are hurt because they cannot wear whatever they want, and girl's bodies are not shameful (never said they were) well, I knew is was time to power off. Then seeing and reading the overwhelming response and agreement with the Target dissent, I knew clothing common sense was indeed on my side. The over-sexualization of young girls has finally hit middle America's clothing racks,  and clearly, moms have had enough.  Even boy moms.

Recently something happened in my house and it got me thinking about how our children's clothing tastes, and maybe their perceptions of bodies and modesty are really formed.  I dress very modestly/conservatively (no plunging necklines, no short shorts, nothing flashy, I don't even like prints-think librarian).  I personally just feel comfortable that way, and I also dislike clothes shopping.  When I find a nicely fitting top, I just buy the same one in every color. My closet is basically a rainbow of polo style collared shirts, a few pairs of khaki pants, and jeans. A few months ago after working out, I came in the house profusely sweating and yanked off my t-shirt. Underneath, I had a dark colored and generously covering my bust type of sports bra on (like a half tank top) and running shorts. As I walked through the house, both of my teen boys said, "Geez mom go put some clothes on. That doesn't look right."

Now I am not a behavioral or adolescent psychologist, but I am thinking young men and boys who constantly see female peers in ill-fitting, tight, and too much skin revealing clothes will begin to think that's normal.  Subsequently, that 'look' will develop into what they find attractive. From that standard,  the clothes then slide down the slippery slope, and to be more appealing and attractive, pieces get smaller, shorter, and tighter. On the other hand, when they see modest dress, that becomes normal and attractive to them. Now of course my boys have seen girls in what we now call regular (small) clothes, and they have seen plenty of sexy and too revealing clothes worn by tween and teen girls in pop culture media outlets,  but I think (I hope?) that they see that as neither normal, nor attractive. And maybe it actually makes them uncomfortable. Now, is it the girl's fault that they feel uncomfortable?  No, it's nobody's fault.  It is simply their preference. And if parents continue to accept the new, or rather, less than standards of clothing and continue to buy it,  that is their preference.  But I have a message to mothers of girls who are fed up with clothing choices- your dollar is what clothing manufactures follow. If it stays in your wallet until you see a change, then trust me, change will come.

As far as my sons are concerned, soon enough they will end up at *college, where for the first time in their life they will not be surrounded by girls in modest, generic, plaid, religious school skorts and jumpers. Rather, they will have a whole lot of T & A up in their faces. Sigh. I dread that.

So Target (and the many others) hurry up and get your clothing act together. It's not just girl moms that are counting on you.

*Currently Googling all male only colleges

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Blender Girl by Tess Masters - A Cookbook Review and Giveaway







In her debut cookbook, Tess Masters, creator of the popular epicurean blog Healthy Blend Recipes and also known as 'The Blender Girl,"  delivers a delicious array of 100 plant based, whole food dishes. But don't let the title fool you, as the vegan and gluten free recipes are not limited to blender only creations. Chapters include nutrient dense and power packed smoothies and shakes, rich and creamy non-dairy appetizers, creative salads with easy dressings,  inventive soups, meatless mains, sweet desserts, juices, and from scratch condiments. Introduction includes informative directions for soaking and sprouting raw nuts, seeds, and whole grains, as well as lists of power foods and ways to incorporate and ‘blend’ them into your diet. A how-to milking guide for making non-dairy alternatives, a build your own smoothie chart, as well as information on probiotics, alkalines, and how to test your own pH also make this cookbook a handy reference guide for healthful recipe creating. An exhaustive food resource list and further reading recommendations round out this diverse and healthful combination of recipes for the health conscious and adventurous cook. A few of the innovative must try recipes include an artichoke and white bean dip (a healthy alternative to the fat and dairy laden original,)  a raw chocolate torte, a meatless veggie filled chili, and a gluten free pizza topped with arugula and Yukon potatoes.  For the vegan and those desiring recipes filled with live enzymes and alkaline boosters, The Blender Girl delivers an innovative array of options, beautiful photographs, and plenty of inspiration. 

Comment below with your favorite blender ingredient for a chance to win this cookbook! 

Thank you to Blogging For Books for providing this cookbook to me, and the chance for me to offer it as a giveaway to my readers.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lost Faith In Humanity? Spend A Day In High School



Five minutes of watching the news and you will wonder how the world, how mankind, and all of humanity is going to survive. We are told our young people are all into crime, gang violence, are depressed,  or addicted to prescription drugs or the internet.  They are spoiled, coddled, and have no work ethic. They are information natives, having been raised always connected to a device, rather than to each other, and as such are allegedly socially inept, yielding  repercussions we have yet to discover.  I have two teenage sons, and often find myself looking at our society and wondering, "Have I done enough? Are they going to make it out there?" I also have days when I look at them, and attempt to process hormonal mood swings, piles of messes, groans and griping. Or I stand in shock at their sometimes disrespect and ungratefulness, and simply think "How does anyone survive the teenage years?"

Thankfully, my hope in the future, mine and theirs, and in what our nation's teenagers are capable of, is renewed at a place where you may think it would be falling apart; a typical American high school. There, in the library where I volunteer, teenagers in this small Catholic school roam in and out, doing teenager-ish things; hanging out, sporting earbuds and bopping their heads listening to rap music, tapping hard on computers, staring deeply into tablet screens and calculus books.  But if you look deeper, if you really observe their behavior, and you take a second and ask them some tough questions, and then listen intently, giving no unsolicited advice, only listening and encouraging, you get a glimpse of hope. Hope that these teens can and will rise up to the challenge of adulthood.

Here they come in all shapes and sizes, navigating changing bodies, and having to do so under media pressure which mandates attractive girls must weigh 100 pounds and young males be sculpted like Adonis. There are kids here for whom the yearly tuition is grossly unaffordable, sitting next to kids who could easily pay three times the amount. They treat each other as equals, for they both know the value of their education has no price. They sit in groups together, mixed sexes, mixed shades of skin color, jocks next to artists, next to math geeks, next to class clowns, next to introverts.  We have not forced them to sit like this, in "It's A Small World After All" fashion. They have yet to buy into the media telling them they are racists, bigots, or bullies. For they do not see a white race, a black race, a hispanic race, an asian race.  In their innocence they only see the human race.  At age 15 there is no need to practice or define tolerance, when you have been taught and are still practicing the most basic of lessons, to live to love your fellow man. The Golden Rule is alive and kicking.

I sometimes strike up "What do you want to be when you grow up?" conversations with them. I am not a threat to their honesty, I am not neither their parent pouring pressure over them, nor their teacher ready to grade and evaluate their answer. They harbor no fear of being honest with me. Their answers cover the spectrum of being insightful, ambitious, inspiring, nonplussed, often vague. To the type A kids, whose answers sound scripted and rehearsed, and who appear to know exactly what their field of study is going to be, how long it is going to take, what their job title will be, and what it pays, I reply, "Have at it! Set those goals. Keep your eye on your passion, your prize. Some people live their whole life and never figure out what their purpose is."  To the type B kids, who stare off into space while they tell me they have no idea what they want to do, they have too many varied interests, do they really have to decide now? I reply, "Have at it! Keep looking for your passion. Stay open to the possibilities. Some people live their whole life doing what they were never meant to do because they never left their options open." Both the questions and the replies yield the same reaction from myself and the students....big smiles. Possibility. Promise. Hope.

The face and future of humanity, if we continue to look for it in the wrong places, is ugly. It is a warped reflection of mankind, of only one horrific news story after another. The face and future of humanity, when we look for it in our youth, is beautiful. It is a perfect reflection of mankind, in all its purity, honesty, and goodness. It is spunky teenagers who will grow into poised adults, and vow to do 'life' better than their parents, and probably will. It is aplomb with hope. These kids. Our futures. I think we are going to be just fine.