Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Sports Mom: It's an Acquired Taste.

Being a sports mom, I find myself sitting in the most extreme of conditions in situations that tear my nerves apart, almost nightly. It is not for the faint of heart. I work all day and rush home to a game that will, inevitably, send me nearly into heart failure. Why would I encourage this chaos in a life with four boys? I know it may come as a shock, but it’s by choice! They love this life. And I happen to love watching them do what they love to do. But, I tell them often, if/when the time comes they stop loving it, it’s time to make a change. For now, this is this mom’s Sunday through Saturday and I’m okay with that.

Currently I am gearing up for what may be the busiest basketball season yet with all four boys playing.  The 21 year old is playing college basketball. The 18 year old, who recently wrapped up soccer, will now gear up for his last year of high school varsity basketball. The 15 year old is in the playoffs for football and will transition right into varsity basketball with his brother. The 12 year old is getting ready for his first year of middle school basketball. I think it goes without saying; I will live off popcorn and bottle waters, reek of sweaty gymnasiums and suffer from a severe case of bleacher butt from the end of November until February/March. Yep, it’s ridiculous. Go ahead and say it. I understand your concerns, your opinions, and the chatter of overscheduling.

It won’t be unusual for me to be tuned into college basketball on my phone while running between middle and high school games. If I don’t speak to you, don’t take it personally. I may not even know my name that day. If I look frazzled, it’s because I am. Didn’t you hear? Frazzled is the new glam. If my hair is gray, it’s best not to bring it to my attention. More than likely, I haven’t had time to color it, nor the money, because I was too busy robbing my car cup holders for loose change to get into games because I didn’t have time to go by the ATM.  If you see me in the same shirt two games in a row, just roll with it. I can be superstitious, finding the need to wear the green jacket that brought us luck during the game two days prior. If I look tired, I am. Everydamnday.

You read this and judge me in my choices and that’s ok. I will take time off for myself; sanity breaks if you will. The problem is I hate to miss. Witnessing my kids enjoy doing something so much is priceless to me. This is a window of opportunity that I want to experience and enjoy, because soon it will close. This crazy time, this crazy life of mine is not forever. One by one, the sports seasons will end. One day I will look back with a fondness and miss the chaos. As difficult as it may be for me to see that now when things are at their craziest, I know for certain, I am going to miss these days. So for now, I savor them. I will revel in my frazzled forgetfulness all the while suffering from near heart failure. I will yell and cheer with the intention of supporting my kids, enjoying the double bonus of embarrassing them. I will be okay in my mom sportswear and not dressed to the nines. Do you know how hard it is to climb bleachers in heels? I will spread myself as thin as I possibly can, because that’s what I choose to do. So yeah, it’s a life of sports chaos and I’m living it to the fullest right now.

I type this just one day after watching my 18 year old’s high school soccer team lose in their state semifinals. As the time began to close in on them and defeat was on the horizon, I watched him collapse into a sitting position on the field once 0:00 lit the board. A knot developed in my stomach for him and his teammates who were visibly devastated over the tough loss. I thought to myself, “If my kid is crying, I’m going to cry with him!” But something happened that surprised me. He sat there silent for a minute watching as the other team celebrated on the field beside him. He then stood up and walked over to his teammates who were in tears. He patted them on the back, he hugged them, he shook their hands. Even after the game, he took his role as a captain to heart and offered encouragement and support when it certainly would have been okay for him to be upset alongside them. In that moment, I could not have been more proud of him. Minutes after the game ended, as he approached me waiting by the fence, he greeted me with a hug and a smile. Sure a win would’ve been great, but this was greater.

And, THAT, my friends, makes it all worth it.


The Sports Mom

Friday, October 9, 2015

Be THAT Person

As I was exiting the interstate on my lunch hour the other day, there was a gentleman standing on the side of the road holding a cardboard sign. The sign stated he was homeless and in search of food. More times than not, I am the person that gets in the other lane to avoid him walking past my window. I am the person who doesn't make eye contact. I am the person who pretends to be on the phone. This particular day, I saw him from a distance and purposely switched to his lane. As I approached him, the stoplight turned red. I opened my window and called him over and handed him 4 dollars. It's all I had in my wallet. I looked him in the eyes as I handed him the dollar bills and he smiled graciously. During the time that it took for him to walk to my car, the light turned green and there was a row of cars behind me. On this particular day, I was THAT person. I was the person who held you up an extra 12 seconds. I was the person who made you angry. I was the person who made you lay on your horn.

But maybe, just maybe I was also the person who planted a small seed, so that next time you find yourself stopped at that intersection (or another one), you reach out and give someone in need a hand full of change or a couple dollars for a smile in return. We could question whether he is really homeless. I guess I'll never know, nor do I care. He was geniunely gracious. Isn't that all that matters anyway?

I am grateful that, at some point (as irritated as I probably was at the time), someone planted the seed for me to be THAT person.

Now I challenge you! Go be THAT person.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The House with the Red Door

Mothers Day 2010
Today I sit at my desk waiting with baited breath over some news; hoping, praying for a chapter in this book of grief to close. After months of trials and tribulations to sell my moms house, it closes today.

"Praise the Lord!" and "Oh My lord!" all at once.

My 15 year old and I went by the house last week to drop off the keys. The house still smells like her. He asked if we could walk around one last time and so we did. I made my way to back to her bathroom, he stood in the bedroom, our eyes met, both full of tears, still in disbelief that she is gone. Her birthday approaches and she isn't here. Then Thanksgiving. She's gone. And then Christmas. No Nana. I feel like the air has been deflated from my lungs. I find that the roller coaster of emotions makes me motion sick - sadness, anger, disbelief, immense grief, more anger. I don't know which way is up. The natural cycle of grief controls my emotions of the day and, while I can push much of it away, it has it's way of creeping back and punching me right in the gut when I least expect it. My head and heart are in constant battle as my head says "it's just a building with walls and a roof". My heart says "It was her home".

Mothers Day 2015
Today, I will rejoice when I hear the words that the closing is complete. And then I will sob; happy that we can close a very stressful chapter, devastated that the chapter even exists.
But that's life.

Until we meet again, Mom.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Attention Parents of Teens: DECOY APPS, Ever Heard of 'Em? Step 1: Educate.

Ok parents, it's that time again! Two years ago, I wrote Wake Up and Smell the Sexting about Apps for parents to keep their eyes out for. Two years later, these companies have gotten more clever now suddenly coming up with ways to hide the intent of certain apps. Unfortunately, many of our teens have caught on to this as well! Trying to stay one step ahead of them is tough, so I hope this tidbit of information is useful. Our parental technology nemesis goes by the name of DECOY APPS! Google them! And, guess what?

They're free!

These apps look harmless enough. Some have cutesy little icons, some are boring ole calculators, some are flowers, rainbows, and cool designs. The problem? Mom and Dad see them on their kids iPods or iPhones and think nothing of them. In our defense, it isn't like the icon screams "I'm hiding innappropriate photos from you, woman!!!" Who would think a cute little umbrella could be so deceiving?

Enter decoy apps. 

Decoy: "to lure or entice a person away from the intended course"

Keep an eye out for these icons on your kids Smartphones and iPods.

Private Photo Vault: “The Best and Most Private Photo and Video App for iPhone/iPad/iPod touch. Over 3,000,000 people trust Private Photo Vault to keep information hidden”. Is your kid one of them? Rated #1 in Decoy Feature

Private Pics FREE: “The perfect app to keep people from accidentally seeing their private pictures."

Don’t Touch My Pics FREE: “Keep your private and incriminating photos away from prying eyes.”

Unless your Calculator App icon looks like this:

It’s a decoy app!!! Even if you open the app, it looks and works just like a calculator but a code will activate the app to take you to another screen revealing hidden pics and videos that are not shown in the regular iPhone album!

Steer clear of these:

Hi Calculator: Private Album.

Private Calculator: File Hider and Secret Photo/Video vault.

Secret Photo & Video Calculator:  Private storage for videos and pics.

Private Photo: “App is private photos and videos hidden behind a calculator”

And those are just a FEW of the calculator decoy apps!

Continued decoy app icons:

Dot Lock My Data Lite: “Security Protection suite for secret photos, videos, notes, and folders”

Private Photo: “The perfect application for anyone who wants to keep people from accidentally seeing their private photos and videos.”

HiFolder: “Hidden Private Photo Albums and Secrets”

HiDisk: “If you have a chance to possess a cool app that can secure your privacy, save time, and enrich your life, will you allow yourself to miss it?” –Photo and video vault

Your secret folder:  “You can create, organize, and protect private folders, albums, photos, and videos. Bonus: Discreet icon!”

Lock Photo and Video Vault: “Great app to hide pics and videos from unwanted guests. Rated #1 in hiding pics!

Best Secret Folder: “Best place to hide passwords and dirty pics”

And notice "Hottest in iTunes Sync Right Now"! And, again, it's FREE.

Do with the info what you may. Maybe you're the parent who wants to give them their privacy and feels this is too "stalkerish". Maybe you're the parent who opted not to let your teen have a iPod or SmartPhone (I applaud you!). 

I happen to be the parent somewhere in between. I let my kids have these devices with stipulations, that, if not met, the phone is mine.

Our kids may resent our rules for now, but remember we aren't here to be #friends #instacool #fun

We are #family. 

A few years down the road, they'll understand that hashtag is the one that's always mattered most and they will appreciate the boundaries and rules given to help them get through their technologically-way-too-advanced-teen years.

In the meantime, it is definitely going to take a village.....

A great source of information on Apps:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Volunteer Schmolunteer

There it was, the email asking for parent volunteers. Guilt ensued. My kid is a senior and the least I could do is sign myself up for something to help out his soccer team. So I did it. I bit the bullet. I was now deemed the writer for our local small town newspaper for articles on our games. I figured I love to write and I will be at the games anyway, so why not. It seemed like the perfect fit until I attended the first game.

I don’t think I realized how much I don’t pay attention to the details of the game, until it was my parental/team volunteer duty to do so. Instead of jotting down notes of who scored left footed with perfect placement in the corner of the goal assisted by John Doe who passed it from the 18 avoiding the slide tackle from the defender, I was thinking about laundry. And 10 million other things. Had I written the article from the thoughts in my mom brain infested by attention deficit disorder it would’ve gone something like this:

Eight and half minutes into the game, I regretted my decision to wear long sleeves in 85 degree heat. Sure, it was my awesome new shirt supporting our team, but it would’ve been more appropriate for cooler weather. YES, we scored! Who passed that? Thirteen minutes into the first half I realized that I desperately need a printed roster of our team. Who are these new kids? I’m going to need a cheat sheet. Maybe I can print one tomorrow. I wonder if the coach has loaded it on That #14 is fast. Sweet, another goal! Nineteen minutes in, it hit me that I forgot to start the dryer. Will those clothes be musty by the time I get home? I’m going to be up half the night doing laundry now. Just great. Twenty eight minutes in, my exhausted brain zoned out as we scored another goal. Not a clue who it was or who passed it, but those hot dogs sure do smell yummy. I miss hot dogs. Damn diet has me craving random bits and pieces of animal crushed into a weiner. Nevermind, I don’ t miss hot dogs. The other team is going crazy. They scored. I better write that down. Sometime later in the first half after planning out my work week, writing a list of school supplies to be purchased, and sweating profusely because of this gosh darn long sleeve shirt, the game stopped. Man down. It appeared one of the kids from the other team got smashed in the nose. Do I add that to the article? Probably not a good idea. But there is so much blood! It kind of brings an excitement level to it, don’t you think? However, I feel for the parents. I am going to be pissed if my kid gets hurt and I have to spend six hours in the ER tonight. I don’t have time for that AND I have this article to write. And laundry to do. And school supplies to buy. Halftime. Whew. I am exhausted. This paying attention thing is hard.

The moral of this story is don’t volunteer. It’s too much pressure. I am certain to spell someone’s name wrong, give the wrong stat or, commit the worst high school sports article faux pas ever, call them a Freshman when they’re really a Sophomore.

So I apologize in advance Mebane Enterprise readers for my super vague articles that are really just a list of stats from the games. You get what you pay for! AND be thankful I didn't sign up to announce the games. Crisis averted for all. Now I’m off to wash a uniform that smells like my kid murdered a family of skunks. I miss hot dogs.

Over and out……..

Friday, July 17, 2015

To Cleanse or Not To Cleanse, That is the Question.....

I started the Isagenix 30 Day Cleanse and Fat Burning Program this week. I did some research before purchasing it, because I wanted something that would kick my 41 year old metabolism in the arse and it needed to be healthy and simple for a mom on the go. Isagenix appeared to fit the bill. I am only 5 days in, but I felt inclined to share my experience.

Let me start by saying, I’ve lost 4.2 pounds in 5 days. So YAY me. Kristen 1 – Fat 0

However, while all diets are challenging, this one takes the cake.

……how I miss &*#king cake. 

I am restricted to one 400-600 calorie meal and 2 IsoLean shakes a day as meal replacements and they are IsoNASTY shakes. I’ve read the reviews of people saying they are delicious and these people must have been on this diet so long their taste buds have disintegrated. I have had the vanilla, the chocolate, and even mixed in ingredients for extra taste and it basically still tastes like thick goo. The directions state: “Enjoy an IsaLean shake”. It’s about as enjoyable as chugging chunky spoiled milk…although it does smell better than spoiled milk and it actually did serve as an appetite suppressant, so there is that. Hence the reason I even made it passed Day 1. 
Kristen 1 - Goo 0

A couple of times a day I am supposed to drink a serving of Ionix Supreme. It has vitamins and minerals and helps with fatigue. I was fatigued like a mofo which is one main reason I started this diet to begin with so I had nowhere to go but up. Yet, I’ve only had one serving of Ionix Supreme in 5 days. Why, you ask? It looks like you are drinking toilet water. Seriously, BAD toilet water. And it is SUPER gross. I can stomach the shake, but this concoction did not make the cut. I figure I’ll pop my regular ole multivitamin and risk being fatigued.
Ionix Supremely Disgusting Stuff 1 – Kristen 0

When I started this diet, the whole point was to cleanse my body. You can opt for cleanse days either 1 day or 2 days a week. I opted to go the aggressive route and go for 2. Lord knows the chips, caffeine, cookies, cheese fries, wine (insert “anything yummy”) have totally destroyed my innards, so cleanse away!! The Cleanse for Life drink isn’t bad if you hold your nose and a chug it fast. The after-taste tastes like baby Aspirin, which in turn takes me back to my childhood when I was skinny and didn’t have to worry about my weight, so that’s a win. When most people think of cleanse, they think of colonic cleanse. This is NOT what this diet does, which most people would give a huge sigh of relief. Who wants to sit at work worrying about THAT happening? Unfortunately, for me, it’s had the adverse effect. I haven’t been in 5 days, even deligently taking their product IsaFlush (the name makes me giggle every time I see the label). Home girl needs to go, but can’t. You had ONE job, IsaFlush formulators! 
IsaFlush 1 – Kristen 0

Lastly, the Isagenix Snacks that come with the 30 Day Cleanse are basically like eating kinda-but-not-really-chocolate chewy Tums. I can’t even. Dry heaving at my desk after choking down a snack is not what I call an actual snack. 
Isagenix Snacks 1 – Kristen 0

So I think it’s safe to assume I won’t be becoming an Isagenix Associate trying to get you all to buy into this product. I do think it can be successful for those who can follow it to a T, pushing through the taste and consistency of their products. And even though the odds are against me, I paid a MINT for this darn thing, so I shall see it through for another pain-staking 25 days myself. However, I will be happily jumping off this bandwagon, hopefully, 10-15lbs lighter and moving on to my old “go to”, Weight Watchers. I do believe if I can do this cleanse successfully for 30 days, I can do pretty much anything. Who knows, maybe even run for President of the United States! In the meantime, I should probably buy stock in Roto Rooter.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Stress in the Workplace: Forgetting to Set the Reminder to Remind You of Your Reminder

Got all that?

I have been doing some research on "stress in the workplace". One of the #1 culprits? 

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. On the contrary, now we're expected to read/respond to emails and texts instantaneously. When there's a technology glitch (software locks up/computer crashes/phone dies), we come to a screeching halt in the middle of what is supposed to be a productive work day. But, honestly, while that's part of our technology induced stress, the majority of it is self-induced. We have become a generation of ADD employees. I am one of them.

Case in point:
4:30pm: Start one task with estimated completion time of 30 minutes, which is perfect because you have exactly 30 minutes left until you have to race home to get your kid to practice.
It takes 4 minutes for the program to open, because, well, your computer sucks. You start out 4 minutes behind schedule but still feel confident you can rock it out before 5pm. Work diligently for 2 whole minutes. You got this!
  • *Email notification*
Respond quickly and get back on task.

2 minutes later......
  • *Incoming text* 
It's from your kid. Oh great. Is he sick again? Did he get in trouble at school? Nope, just low on lunch money. Need to make a deposit for the next day. Say to yourself “It isn’t due until tomorrow, but if I don’t do it now, I’ll totally forget about it.
Hop online to put money in his lunch account. Problem is you can't remember your user name and password. Spend 4 minutes typing in every combination you have for every site you've ever used. No luck. Now waiting on an email to reset it. Go back to original task while waiting.

1 minute later......
  • *Email notification* Password Reset Request.
No internet service. Awesome.
Work on task while waiting. Keep refreshing Google Chrome on your second monitor... over and over and over and over and over and ov-SUCCESS!

Text your kid back: "Done! Remember to do your homework!”

12 seconds later.....
  • *Incoming text* 
You ignore it because you assume it's your kid responding with a "thanks". 
Keep working for 2 1/2 minutes as your subconscious nags you to check your phone.
  • *DING* 
There it goes again, taunting you a second time because it knows you haven't read the text yet..... &%*#! Your mind begins to race with anxiety. Let's face it, your kid isn't going to waste his time texting "thank you!". That only happens when he knows you're bringing home Chick-Fil-A for dinner.
You are convinced it's important... "I'll just check it really quick".
  • Staring back at you is a "k" from your kid. (in response to your homework reminder) God forbid he actually write out the entire response. The "o" in "ok" must be exhausting to type. And you aren't even worthy of a capital letter.

Your annoyance level is now heightened as you jump back into your task.

1 minute later....
  • *Email notification*

Ignore it. Ignore it. Ignore it. What if it’s related to what you’re working on? What if it’s your boss? What if…. What if!?!

Convinced, for sure this timethat it's important, you check email. “Thank you for your payment to Kid #4’s lunch account”.

4:48pm: Just as all notifications quiet down and your focus is clear, it happens.....
  • *Microsoft Windows Pop Up*
Frustration ensues. There's no cancelling. It's a certainty, like death and taxes. The Windows Update will get you everytime. Work like a mofo for 3 minutes, 45 seconds, SAVE, and hold your breath that it doesn't shut down and lose all the hard work you've been slaving over for the last, um, 7 total cumulative minutes.

Wait for the reboot.

Check Facebook Newsfeed on phone. When did she become a redhead? 

Still rebooting.

Your turn in Trivia Crack. You're about to lose to your sister-in-law for the 11th straight time. You swear it's because you get these questions:

And she's over there probably getting these....

Is my Windows Update done yet?

Look at clock. 4:59pm. 

The good news? Your computer has rebooted and all your work is saved. The bad news? It's time to go.

Pick up phone to leave. Add Task to your next day To Do List. 

While walking to the car, answer question wrong in Trivia Crack. 

Get to the parking lot. Can't find car. Wander parking lot unable to find car because of:
  • *Trivia Crack notification* "You lost...(again)"
  • *Text notification* Kid: "What's for dinner?"
  • *Weight Watchers App Reminder* "Don't you dare go by Chick-Fil-A again"

And there you have it. 

LOOK, a squirrel!