Boys and their Crazy World of Sports

10 Apr

I’m feeling in the need of a good rant about boys, sports, bullying, and sportsmanship.  So here it is and I promise the next post will be about another fun and light hearted family adventure…

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After spending another Saturday running around to multiple sporting events with my boys, I once again observed the horrible negative side of sports. Fortunately, over the years, I have encountered much more positive than negative, but the negative always seems to hit me really hard.  I absolutely hate it.  How can youth sports bring out such an ugly side of some adults?

Over the past few years, it seems that our society has put forth so much time, money, and energy into confronting the issue of bullying and the issues surrounding this problem.  Well, after sitting through many years of athletics, maybe we really need to start looking at what is being taught to boys in the world of youth sports.  Over the years, I have watched more coaches yell uncontrollably at their players and referees, put them down, and confront them in a horrific manner.  I’ve observed fans (yes, adult fans) calling players names and laughing at young athletes when they botch a play.  Why is it that just because a boy is in a sports uniform it is okay for adults to humiliate, taunt, and in a sense bully him?  How is it that we tell our kids to not bully and expect them to be kind, yet let all the rules of common decency fall apart when we put our kids out on the court or field? We expect young athletes to follow rules, but silently ignore the poor behavior by adults.  This is just wrong.

It seems that we put these young athletes on a pedestal for their successes, yet on the other hand we allow them to be treated horribly by adults and their role models, all in the name of sports.  What do we expect?  Is there any question why some boys head to school Monday morning and bully those that are weaker?  This is a recipe for disaster.

I fully understand that sports are competetive and it’s okay to expect boys to be tough. I am not a fan of the “everyone wins” mentality. It’s ok to cheer and be excited.  It’s normal to feel thrilled when your team wins, but it is just as important to be proud when you lose.  While I see so many amazing coaches, teammates, and supportive fans (fortunately, this is the majority), I also have seen the worst of the worst.  I am truly shocked and disappointed by the horrible behavior by that small percentage. I always leave those games with rude fans and obnoxious coaches feeling a little shaken up and sad for the players.  This is not right.  Period.

There is no easy answer to fixing this problem, but as parents, we need to start somewhere.  Even if that just means starting with ourselves.  We need to not just look the other way and shrug off this poor behavior.  Fellow sports parents, we know that certain teams will carry a reputation for being more “intense and rowdy”.  We need to stop sugar coating the truth and stand up to this overlooked form of bullying.  We need to inform leagues and referees of  poor behavior.  We need to never allow our sons to play for a coach who continually displays poor sportsmanship or be represented by fans who promote this type of behavior.  If enough of us stand up for what is right, hopefully we can take the negative out of youth sports.  Bottom line, our boys deserve better!

Family Bar Hopping?

14 Mar

When planning vacations, I do not take into consideration the possibility of torrential rain or unforeseeable weather conditions that would stop regular activities for more than an hour or two.  While most of my tropical vacations have been during the “rainy” season, I usually have had pretty good luck from Mother Nature.  A few times I have experienced the afternoon thundershowers and random short downpours.  I view those as perfect for an afternoon nap, some quiet downtime, or even a swim in the rain.  A couple of years back, while visiting the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, that all changed.  My family and I experienced some crazy weather and received a quick education on what a  Tropical Depression really means.

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The afternoon before the “storm” began with dark skies and scattered showers.  That was nothing we couldn’t handle.  We went to bed naive of the storm warnings and awoke totally shocked to a flooded bedroom, over flowing pool, and unimaginable amounts of water falling from the sky.  After a couple of hours of board games, eating, and jumping on furniture, it was time for the family to make an escape.  We needed to get out.  I searched the web and came up with a few ideas of what to do with 4 kids, in a foreign county, in torrential downpour.  We came across the ideas of shopping, museums (not in the right place for that), and bar hopping.  We decided on shopping…

We took one of the scariest taxi rides of our life. We were literally racing through what seemed like rushing rivers of water to finally arrive at the mall of Playa del Carmen.  Let’s just say that calling it a mall was a bit of a stretch. It was an experience that lasted all of about 30 minutes.  The “mall” was somewhat of a flea market.  It was filled with pharmacies, souvenier shops, portable carts, and anchored by a store that remided me of the childhood memory of FEDCO (a 1970′s California discount store).  Oh, there was a movie theater, but watching a movie in Spanish wasn’t going to fly with the kids (or grownups).  Needless to say, things were decling rapidly and I needed to act quickly.  I remembered one thing that stood out during my searching the web of things to do…bar hopping.  Surely, not what I had envisioned during a family trip, but at that point we were game for anything.

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Off we set to 5th Avenue for a search for the best margaritas and chicken wings in town.  We had the kids in tow and were thankful for the fact that World Cup Soccer was on at every bar in town.   The crowds were huge and loud.  At least no one would take notice of our obnoxious and under stimulated children.  We spent the next several hours and the better part of the next day bar hopping.  The kids drank more sugar than they have ever possibly ingested in a 2 day window, made new friends, ate some fabulous chicken wings, and rode out the storm.  It was a great time had by all.  Salud!

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For the Love of Camping

24 Jan

The art of camping is one family adventure that has definitely grown on me over the years.  I didn’t grow up in a camping family, but I always envied the fun that my childhood friends would have on camping trips.  I always knew that camping was something I wanted my kids to experience, but wasn’t quite sure where to start.  When my camping journey began (being that I was a novice camper), the reasonable way to begin this new adventure was to hook up with a rented RV and go from there.  Taking the first step was by far the hardest part and camping surely has been a learn as you go experience.  Mistakes were made (yes, even nasty dump tank mistakes), as well as many more successes. I experienced a few tears, all while creating some great memories.

Camping actually was the “perfect” vacation for my family when the kiddos were young.  It beat airplane rides, rental cars, and dining out.  At that early stage in my journey of parenting, the thought of dragging 4 small kids (and all their crap) through TSA and on layovers, all while ignoring sleep schedules and lugging car seats, diapers, and sippy cups was totally unbearable.  Camping made it possible to explore our surrounding states and sights, all while still getting away from the routine of being at home.  We camped often and saw so many amazing places.  But, as every parent knows you must change as your family grows and all good things do come to an end (kind of).

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As soon as my family grew out of naps and booster seats and those little bodies grew bigger, camping was not quite the same.  My true passion to start seeing the world was finally possible and quickly overruled any camping desire.  I put my rustic outdoorsy side on the back burner and abandoned most of our camping excursions.  Believe it or not, it was kind of sad (okay, not that sad).  There is something about being able to fill your kids full of junk food, get as dirty as they want, and run around like hooligans outside all weekend.  I love the feeling of setting up “camp”, the late night adult campfire discussions about politics, and playing cards.  So, in keeping up the tradition, my family now spends one weekend a summer filling my kids with the best food of Walmart and zero showering (for the boys at least).

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Each summer we spend a weekend with a growing group of fabulous families at Palisade Sate Park in Central Utah.  This place is just too perfect of a campground and way to much fun to quit visiting.  The location is great for friends and family coming from several different states and it is absolutely beautiful.  The lake is just big enough to explore, yet small enough to put a life vest on your older kids and let them take out a canoe.  Since this lake doesn’t allow power boats, it especially adds to it being a perfect lake for swimming.  There is tons of open space for that game of  kickball, an outdoor movie, or just to throw the frisbee around with your dog. The bathrooms are clean, with showers and flush toilets (a must for this high maintenance camper).  There is even a golf course and cafe to add to the list of why I love this place.  Did I mention the most amazing sunsets too?

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I could rave on and on about this amazing campground, but I think I’d better get on booking our campsite for this summer.  Happy adventures!

To Read more about my camping adventures, check out my post about Yellowstone.

Denver Getaway

8 Nov

Mini kid-free vacations are the perfect way for me to rejuvenate, relax, and reconnect with my hubby.  As a busy mother of 4, these little getaways are quite limited and cherished beyond belief!  Typically, when my husband and I get that rare hall pass from the kids, we escape to a local hotel or revisit somewhere from our past.  For some reason, I fail miserably to think out of the box, and always go for the same old thing…can I say Vegas?

As a last shindig before the end of summer, my hubby and I decided that a quick getaway was needed for our sanity.  We found a last minute “weekend babysitter” for our favorite monsters and we were all over going anywhere away from the craziness of our daily routine.  It was last minute and we weren’t set on anything specific.  While browsing the internet (of course looking for a deal on a Vegas getaway), I came across a last minute deal on a couple of flights to Denver.  The flights were a steal and we were even able to take advantage of some hotel points that we don’t typically use for family travel.  It all fell into place and I pulled the trigger.  While everything seemed to work perfectly, I was honestly still a little unsure about Denver for “vacation”.

We arrived in Denver with a rental car waiting and 2 nights booked at the Cherry Creek Marriott.  We had no plans or expectations, how completely out of character for me!  We kicked off our weekend with a champagne toast and set off on foot to explore.

The night life was fabulous, food was amazing, and the crowds were overflowing with hip, yet laid back people.  We spent the weekend walking all over and loved the bike rental stations (felt very Paris like…haha) to really let us explore every corner of Denver.  We covered miles of the Mile High City and were able to totally unwind.  One of my favorite weekend getaways of all time…sorry Vegas!

Where to go next?  Maybe St.Louis or Boise?  I don’t want to plan too much, it ruins the excitement.

(Thanks to Pinterest for the great photo of the summertime dining and biking scene in Denver)

My “Real” Family Pictures

9 Oct

Family photos…the perfect example of a love/ hate relationship.  As any parent knows, the preparation of finding the perfect outfits and trying to get those perfect smiles is a daunting task.  I will admit that I spent years and many frustrating hours always trying to get that “perfect” family photo.  You know the picture I’m talking about.  The one with the perfect kids, flawless smiles, and perfectly patient parents.  Everyone looks so happy and like they are enjoying every second of that wonderfully joyous time in front of the camera.  I mean really?  We all know “that” family doesn’t really exist.  In my experiences, this quest of trying to obtain the perfect and amazing family image, turned me into a 1st class Mom-zilla.  I don’t need to disclose anymore.  Bottom line it was stressful, ugly, and painful.  But hey, I lived by the rule that as long as we get that one perfect photo (even with hours of photo shop) the mission was accomplished.

When looking back at my photo memories of my “perfect” family photo days, all I can think about was what a liar I was.  Really, we looked perfect, but all I could remember was what a nightmare it was to get that one perfect picture.  Oh, the hours of preparation, the tears, and  the tantrums.  Did I mention the hours of photoshop?  Really, WTH?  Anyone who had ever met my kids knew the truth anyway…

So, I decided at that moment that I was done with the perfect family shenanigan and it was time to show the world what we are really about…wild & crazy chaos.  I decided that if I was going to take the time and spend the money on a professional photographer, it needed to be about capturing the real life of my “real” family.  We are not perfect (actually not even close).  Each of my kids have different personalities and unique expressions.  I wanted that to be captured, not some perfect family that doesn’t exist.  I wanted fun and crazy, and it had to reflect who we are and what we are really about.  Since my happy place is being on vacation, I decided that a great time to attempt this new revelation, was while vacationing in Southern California.  My boys grabbed their favorite board shorts of the season, my daughter and I grabbed our favorite sundresses, and my Hubby & I had a glass of wine to start the adventure.  We were relaxed, had minimal bickering between the kids, and were ready to have some fun.  We met up with Eva from Eva Lempert Photography and just asked her to snap away.  We let the kids help pick the poses (including awkward family photo style) and had an absolute blast.  The best part was that we had some great memories, fabulous photos, and I can honestly look back and see who my kids really were in Summer 2012!   Love them!

To check out more of our wild and crazy photo shoot check out Eva Lempert’s blog!

Disclaimer:  Any photos that even slightly resemble that perfect family… we were most likely bribing our children, allowing them to use potty language, they were teasing each other, or we just got lucky.

Giving Back to Belize

19 Sep

As a parent, I feel that one of my many responsibilities is to teach my children about compassion and  giving back to others.  It is no secret that American children have it really good.  We live in a land of fancy stores, well manicured homes, and a great education system compared to much of the world.  Most American kids don’t really understand the reality of true poverty.

So, when it comes to teaching my kids this concept, it can be hard.  I, like so many parents, can easily  get caught up in our daily life of material things and stuff.  We are a society caught up in iPhones, video games, and celebrities.  It is truly a difficult task  for our young people to see beyond that.

While vacationing abroad, I always make a point to stop at a local school, village, or library.  In past years, I would stock up some needed donation items to distribute to local charities.  Our family would show up to distribute our donations and my kids would love the attention and praises of being told how kind they were.  Honestly, this attention would overshadow the meaning of why we were there.  I never had much success with impacting my kids for more than the time it took them to get their next virgin pina coloda.  I really wanted to make an impact in their  young minds, but have had little success in the past. On our recent summer trip to San Pedro, Belize, a different approach was attempted (this tactic was somewhat by mistake, dictated  by luggage restrictions).  We showed up empty handed, except with a basketball from our local University, and thought we’d send a monetary donation after returning home.  The focus of this visit turned away from my kids and onto the true meaning of the less privileged kids of Belize.  The visit was all about observing and really seeing the needs of the children who attend this tiny school.

The reality of  the struggles this school in Belize faced was a sobering experience.  The soccer field was dirt, buildings sat over a swampland,  and the level of poverty shown in the homes near the school property was unlike anything we have ever seen.  Yet with all the obvious obstacles this school faces, they have amazing success in educating some of the poorest children in San Pedro.  After spending almost an hour touring, learning, and asking questions. my kids were impacted.  They left quiet (which NEVER happens with my crazy bunch) and asked questions for hours.  I knew they were impacted.

Upon returning home to the U.S., my kids genuinely wanted to give back.  They decided (on their own) to donate many of  their old toys and sell them at a yard sale.  With the help of some donuts and juice, they were able to raise $75 to send to the school.  They were on a mission and deeply touched by their experience in Belize.  My youngest even asked for his birthday, instead of a remote control car, to send that money to the kids in Belize.  It’s not a lot, but every little bit helps! Most importantly, they were looking beyond themselves and felt like they were giving back to the kids of Belize.

So my goal, as a parent, is much more then just this one small school in Belize.  The bigger picture is what I hope for with my children.  I hope to raise compassionate adults, who realize that the impact of  giving can touch so many lives.  I hope that as adults, they too will find the importance of giving back and teach their children to do the same.  If every parent could just pass on a little bit of this way of thinking, our world would surely be a better place!

Click HERE for more information about Holy Cross Anglican School, Belize

Tropical Paradise

27 Aug

When I was planning our 2012 summer family adventure, I was looking for something unique.  Something a little more adventurous than the typical beach vacation and a way to expose my kids to some new experiences.  I wanted my kids to do things that were beyond anything they could have ever imagined.  Through hours of research and planning,  I finally decided on Belize.  Having already made a trip to this tiny country (minus the kids), I had a good idea of what to expect and thought that it would fit the bill for my active brood.  I was right.  The kids had a blast, enjoyed some amazing experiences, and even learned a bit along the way.  Mission accomplished!  Our adventures in Belize began in the jungle and continued with some “chillaxing” on the island of Ambergris Caye at the Coco Beach Resort.

Coco Beach was the perfect tropical family resort.  Two bedroom condos, amazing pools (with an unbelievable climbing and sliding structure), swim up bar, and a staff that loved kids (or at least faked it really well).  I will admit that Coco Beach was not the easiest place to get to.  The trip started on the mainland, included a quick puddle jumper flight over to Ambergris Caye, a taxi to the dock, and lastly a quick boat ride to the resort.  While getting to this tropical paradise was a little draining for me (ok, totally exhausting), it was all part of the adventure for the kids.  They were totally fascinated with the 12 passenger plane and the a boat doubling as a taxi was totally amazing.  The minute we arrived to Coco Beach, the torture of the long and hot day became a distant memory.  This resort is fabulous!

With my kids being so programmed to associate beach vacations with boogie boarding, Belize was quite a surprise.  To be honest, at first my kids were upset when realizing that Belize was not going to be like other beach vacations.  There are no waves, so playing in the surf and boogie boarding was off the table.  After about four thousand complaints about the no wave situation, the little monsters finally listened to all the other great things that Belize had to offer.  Swimming with sharks, petting sting rays, spear fishing, sailing, and exploring the island on bikes or a golf cart.  The kids were sold on Belize and never looked back.  We spent the days keeping active and the evenings out exploring the town of San Pedro.  Perfect combination of activity and relaxation!

Ambergris Caye (and the Coco Beach Resort) was total paradise for the whole family!  By the way, if you’re wondering…yes, that is my kid swimming with an 8 foot shark.  No lack of adventure in Belize!

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