5 Reasons All Teenage Boys Should Play Golf

AB000212My oldest son is a golfer.  A pretty talented golfer.  He didn’t start out that way.  Starting when he was in 4th grade, I would take us to the driving range as a way to spend time together without spending much money.  It soon evolved into me purchasing Happenings Books for the Buy 1 Get 1 coupons for many of the local executive courses.  It was a great mother/son date!  Then he got better.  I didn’t.  We seldom play golf together anymore, but I am so happy to have introduced the game  to him!  Here’s why:

1. Dress Code:  Regardless of how he chooses to dress when off the course, he always wears shorts or pants that actually fit him in the waist on the course.  Plus a belt.  Plus a tucked in shirt.  He actually looks like a respectable young man!  And I think it helps him with his wardrobe choices outside of the golf course since he is so used to wearing clothing as it is meant to be worn.

2. Emotional Control:  On the golf course, it is not appropriate to lose control of your emotions.  No matter how frustrated you become, you don’t yell, swear or throw things.  You may mutter to yourself some, but it is expected that you control yourself.  He also plays Hockey — that sport encourages you to express your emotions in a physical manner.  Maybe boys need both.  But I think it’s natural for them to be physical, so using a sport to help them learn other ways to manage their emotions is wonderful.

3. Proper Introductions:  When playing in a golf tournament, the boys introduce themselves to each other at the beginning of the match.  They shake hands with each other.  Other sports do handshakes or fist bumps, but it’s very fast and in a line with no real communication happening.  These proper introductions become more natural so that they happen off the course as well.

4. Called Gentlemen: In tournament play, the boys are referred to as gentlemen (as in “Good Luck Gentlemen!” after the rules are reviewed and are given the OK to tee off).  I think that people have a tendency to internalize the names they are called and subconsciously act out accordingly.  Being called a gentleman implies certain behavior and maturity.  From what I’ve seen, the boys on the course rise to the occasion.

5. Meet people of all ages:  During High School tournaments, my son plays only with other High School kids.  But he loves the game.  So he goes to the course alone.  Sometimes they will place him with another group so he gets to talk with 1-3 other golfers and often times learns a great deal about golf and life from them.  Other times, he starts out alone but almost always gets asked to join a group he catches up to.  He learns to graciously accept their offer to join them and again talks with them the rest of the course.  He’s not an extrovert in any interpretation of the word.  Without golf, his circle of people he knows in the world would be very small.  Instead, he has a large group of golfer friends of all ages that he randomly meets up with all summer long.

What do you think?  Are there other life lessons to be learned on the course that nearly all teenage boys would benefit from?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments!


5 Ways to Simplify Meal Planning

108392Some days, I don’t mind cooking assuming I have the time to do it.  Most days it’s not on my top-10 list though, and meal planning is simply dreadful for me.  Or at least it was until I started incorporating some of my top-5 tips to make Meal Planning easier.

1. Use Ziplist (or a similar tool):  Ziplist is awesome!  You can easily add recipes to your recipe box from nearly any internet source.  Then, you plan meals and add the ingredients to your shopping list.  The shopping list is smart too — it adds together most similar ingredients and groups them according to category (vegetables, meats, etc.).  Print out the list and return to the website when it’s time to cook.  They do have a meal planning calendar, but I’m not a fan of it — I use Cozi as our online family calendar and hate having multiple calendars.  Would love for it to integrate with Cozi, but still think this is a top-notch tool even without the integration.

2. Create a Recipe Binder: Instead of keeping all of your favorite recipes in multiple cookbooks, trying to recall which book has which recipe, store them all in a 3-ring binder.  This allows you to take printed recipes from any source and throw them in a plastic sheet protector inside your binder.  You can grab recipes from magazines, other cookbooks, handwritten notes or computer printouts.  If you don’t have a tablet or other device easily accessible in the kitchen, this is a must.

3. Create a Rotating Menu:  If you have a decent number of recipes that you and your family enjoy, spend some time to create 4-6 weeks worth of menus.  Consider leaving room for eating out and 1-2 new recipes per week to keep away some boredom.  When you make the menus, be sure to write up the shopping lists too.  You may want to get the shopping lists laminated so that you can easily reuse them.  Hint:  Use Ziplist for this.

4. Use Freezer Cooking:  You could do the majority of your meal planning for the month at one time and cook it in one day.  Then come meal time, you just cook the meal you took out of the freezer the night before to thaw.  I am not good at planning this, but others are.  I like OnceAMonthMom — there are up to 4-years worth of monthly menus with everything you need (directions, shopping lists, labels) for free, or you can pay a small fee for access to new menus each month.  Even without the subscription, you can still access all the current menus and recipes.  You just don’t get access to the consolidated shopping lists, instructions and labels.  These things are important if you are looking to save some time.  Another great thing about this site is the variety of menus available.  They have 8 menu options available (Traditional, Whole Foods, Gluten and Dairy Free, Paleo, Diet, Vegetarian, Baby Food, and Mini).  I’ve loved the recipes chosen in the Traditional menus I’ve used, but haven’t tried enough of the others to give an opinion.

5. Borrow from Foodie Bloggers:  There are a plethora of Foodie Bloggers out there.  They happily share their meal plans and recipes with anyone who cares.  Find a few of these and copy what they do — take their post from the previous week so you can plan your shopping trip on your time rather than waiting patiently for their posts.

6. Bonus option — Hire a personal chef:  This is actually my number 1 suggestion…if only I could afford it.  A girl can dream!

What tips do you have to simplify meal planning?

My 35-lb Appendage

DSC_1068When my workday is complete, I pick up my youngest 2 kids (4-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl).  My son wants to cuddle with me on the couch and watch a movie. Now he’s underfoot as I try to prepare some dinner.  He gets up on the counter so he can watch my every move.  Dad comes home.  I try to give him a hug and kiss but before I know it, our son is wedged in-between us ensuring that he is getting the majority (all if he can have it) of my attention.  My husband and I try to catch up, but questions and demands come flying out of our son’s mouth — clearly no one except him is allowed to talk to me.  It’s exhausting!

Not all days are like this though.  He can happily entertain himself and just check in every so often which is so very normal for his age.  The excessive clinging only happens if I’ve been gone too much.  As a mother that works full time with 3 kids ranging from 4 to 17, its easy to be gone too much.

Penelope Trunk’s latest post on her homeschooling blog talks about this exact thing.  Being more present with our kids makes them so much more secure and need us less.  This is exactly the opposite of what we are “expected” to do — leave our kids at daycare so they get used to being without us; leave our kids at preschool; send them on the bus; send them to school all day long.  This may build self-reliance in some, but it’s not the natural way to do it.  Being with your kids as much as they need it so that they feel secure is the way they build confidence.  Then they can willingly separate from you knowing that you will be there when they return.

I’m planning on homeschooling my 8-year-old next year, but the more I read about it and really evaluate my parenting I want to keep my son home too!  I can’t quit my job though so it’s out of the question for now.  He still has 1 more year before Kindergarten though — maybe I’ll be able to swing that.  It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

How Not to Jump-Start a Car

dashboardI’m sure many of you know how to jump-start a car, so I’ll spare you those details.  Instead, I’m going to share how not to jump-start a car.

On my recent PTO, my son, daughter and I were invited to a neighbor-girl’s last minute birthday party. Between my neighbor and I, we had 6 kids and 2 adults — too many for 1 car.  As we were leaving in our respective cars, her car wouldn’t start thanks to her husband leaving a GPS and laptop plugged in overnight.  No problem!  I have cables in my trunk and just jumped a car successfully 4-days prior.  I can do this.

I pull my mini-van into her garage, pop the hood, get out the cables and hook ’em up.  Meanwhile, she struggles a little with her hood which she finally gets popped.  Then she looks at her battery.  Only the negative hook-up is exposed and it appears we need to take a cover off the battery to expose the positive.  But it isn’t obvious how to do this.  We both try for a minute or 2 until she decides to grab her owners manual.  As she turns around, she tells me “you’re smoking”.

I whip around and see my cables smoking as I had hooked them up to my running car and laid the other end on the plastic bag that normally houses the cables.  I immediately unhook them from my car, but as I do that, they start on fire.  There is now fire running up the cables from the “unhooked” end traveling toward my engine.  I throw the previously hooked up end down into the pile of fire in her garage.

Now, to locate the fire extinguisher!  She finds it, but has no idea how to use it.  The cables are still burning, but nothing else has joined in yet.  I step toward her in my black coat to see if I can help just as she figures it out and covers me in white powder.  At last, the fire is out.

Defeated, we buckle 4-kids into the back of my van, 2 into the middle and the adults take our spots in front and head out to the Birthday party location.

Jason Lewis was wrong!

Listening to Jason Lewis on the radio last night, I desperately wanted to call in and tell him how wrong he was. While discussing the redefining of marriage, he stated that homosexual couples should be free to marry but not allowed to adopt children.  He quoted one of the only robust studies done on children raised by homosexual parents as his reasoning.  I think the study is probably correct — children raised by 2 males or 2 females do not do as well as a whole as children raised by a mother and a father.  However, my personal thought is that almost any group of children does worse than the whole on average — children raised by 1 parent, children raised by very young parents, children raised by very old parents, children raised by grandparents, children raised by actors, children raised by very wealthy parents, children raised by very poor parents, children raised by divorced parents — all of these groups when pulled out of the whole do worse than the whole in some key life measurements.   But that’s not why Jason was wrong.  I am shocked at how he missed this:  By not allowing gay couples to adopt, you are limiting the freedom of the birth mother!

A large percentage of adoptions are open.  In fact, many birth mothers hand-pick the placement family either through an adoption agency or by finding the family on their own.  By not allowing gay couples to adopt, you are limiting the rights of the birth mother who ultimately decides who will raise the child. No birth mother should be forced to pick a homosexual couple to raise her child, but she should also not be prohibited from doing so.  Adoption agencies also should not be forced to take gay couples as clients, nor should they be prohibited from doing so.  In fact, adoption agencies should not be forced to take heterosexual couples as clients.  Agencies could specialize in placing children with homosexual couples while other agencies specialize in placing children with heterosexual couples, while others do both.

And Jason, how would you enforce this?  Would single individuals that adopt be forced to identify their sexual orientation prior to adopting?  What if they lie?  What if they later decide they are homosexual and had previously been living a lie?  Would children then be taken out of their adoptive homes?

While I still do not agree with the redefining of marriage to include homosexual unions, I do not believe anyone should be denied the chance to raise a child because of their sexual preferences (assuming you have a willing birth mother or surrogate).

On a side note, by legalizing gay marriage, the MN Legislature has given my single, wealthy, elderly father the perfect means to pass me my inheritance without it being subject to the “death tax”….I might be getting divorced soon and my dad will be getting re-married on August 1st:-)  Come on —  I can’t be the first on who thought of that!


School Choices

My sweet daughter will be finishing up 2nd grade in a couple weeks.  It wasn’t easy for her though — she struggles to get her work done.  I don’t know exactly what it is though as she tries hard and she seems to grasp subject matter.  She seems to always be behind though.

Her teacher at our small Christian, Classical school has been great.  But she isn’t convinced my daughter will succeed in 3rd grade.  But I think repeating 2nd grade will harm her because she understands the materials.  I honestly think my daughter is at grade level, but surrounded by peers that are far above grade level.  This is not helpful to her.

I love our school.  But I want what’s best for my girl.  I think I want to home school, but I work full-time.  Can this still be done?  That is the million dollar question.  Lord knows we could use the saved tuition money!  But can I teach her enough while still working?  If I wasn’t working, it’s a no-brainer.  But I am.

Today, I am unsure of what to do.  So, our plan is a little of everything.  I will do a trial run of home schooling as soon as the regular school year lets out.  However, we will not transfer her out of her school until July if we pull her at all.

3 Goals for 6-Weeks

Leo Babauta wrote in a post a short while ago that one should write everyday.  I’m guessing that only applies to those that actually aspire to become a better writer — I do!  I don’t necessarily aspire to be published or anything like that, but I would like to write concisely and persuasively any time I write without it taking a ton of effort.  The only way to do that is to practice.  Therefore, I am going to write daily.  For the handful of you that follow me, I will apologize in advance if my topics don’t seem to belong together.

There are also a few other areas of my life that require daily attention.  My head knows that I should tackle one area of my life at a time, but I’m kind of an all or nothing girl, so I’m going to try to do it all in small steps.  Here are my goals:

1. Write Daily.  I will post a new blog post each day — no writing in advance setting future publish times.

2. Purge 7+ items per week. I hope to go to Goodwill with most of it, and going there daily is out of the question.  The item doesn’t count as gone until it’s out of the house, so counting weekly rather than daily.

3. Lose 30-50 lbs.  Yikes — that’s a LOT of weight!  I plan on doing this by eating 1200-1600 calories daily — tracking my calorie intake.  I also will continue to workout, but be more consistent   I hate saying this because I’m so scared of failing, but I’m going to commit to doing some physical activity everyday.  Some days, this might just be a short walk if I don’t make my planned workout.  Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday mornings I plan on hitting my Kettlebell gym.  Then Tuesday nights doing a “Groove” class at my Pilates gym and Thursday and Sunday mornings doing Barre classes at my Pilates gym.  In addition, I will continue my Aerial classes 1 night a week when in session — for most of the summer, this will probably be Wednesday nights.

I have a few other things that I would love to add to my list, but that will be too much for right now.  June 22, 2013 is 6-weeks away — that will be a good time to re-evaluate these goals. They may need to be tweaked at that point (maybe I’ll have run out of things to get rid of!).  And maybe I’ll be ready to add another goal if these 3 are going swimmingly…time will tell.

Wish me luck!