The Importance of Small Wins

My son enjoys playing sports, but he isn’t a top athlete.  He likes playing more for the fun and the experience.  The teamwork helps as well.  He’s been in a few leagues with a few different sports.  Unfortunately, most of the teams haven’t done that well.  Still, I’m here to tell you that the small wins are important.

Past Leagues

The past couple of teams that he played on haven’t done so well.  Last summer, he played baseball and I think they won one game for the year.  They were mostly players who had just gotten started, and a lot of the other teams had been in place for a couple of years.

Over the winter he played basketball and they never won a game.  Unfortunately, they played in a league where, again, a lot of the teams had played together for a couple of years.  He seemed to be stuck on the ‘new player’ team.  They tried hard and did their best.  Still, you could tell that the losing was a bit discouraging, for my son as well as the other players.

A New Start

This year, my son asked to play baseball again.  He’s now old enough where it’s a kid pitch league.  Last year, the coaches did the pitching.

This has been a game changer.

When the kids started practicing, none of the kids had prior pitching experience.  However, one of the kids turned out to be a natural.  Right away, you could just tell he had the control to pitch well.

The teams we’ve played have all struggled to find a similar quality pitcher.  Our team has taken a lot of walks.  That’s one thing about the first year of a kid pitch league, hitting is scarce.  But, our pitcher gets it over the plate most of the time so there are a lot of strikeouts.

As a result, our pitcher has helped lead the team to a 3-1 record!

Three wins in a row followed by a loss where they still cut a nine run deficit down to three!

The kids love it.

Keeping Expectations In Check

Now, as adults, we are helping the kids celebrate.  But, we’re also keeping things in perspective.  Things are probably going to change, because the pitcher will be going on vacation and is going to miss four games.

I have a feeling those are going to be a lot tougher games!  That will definitely test the kids resolve and make them play.

Five Benefits Of Small Wins

Either way, these small wins that they’ve gotten in these first games are huge.  And, I realize that they’re very important.

  • A taste of victory.  Kids shouldn’t win all the time, but I think that having a taste of victory is important.  It makes kids feel good to win.
  • Confidence.  Our first few practices were tough.  Most of the kids hadn’t played together.  Some were pretty new to baseball.  But, these wins have made the kids believe more in themselves.  That leads to them trying harder and taking that extra step.
  • Teamwork.  The pitcher is definitely the glue that holds the team together.  But, even outside of that, you see the kids work better as a team.  They’ve won so they believe in each other.  There’s less hesitation and more trust.  It’s great to see.
  • Leadership.  Our pitcher has grown into the leader of the team.  He knows that people look up to him, and the kids have somewhat of a role model.  I think that kids around that age (mostly 9-10) need this.
  • Memories.  Kids are going to remember winning.  When memories of childhood fade away and only certain ones remain, these will have a chance to stick.  That’s pretty awesome.

This has been a fun season so far.  The kids still have seven more games to play.  No matter how many wins they end up with, having these three in hand has been great for all of them.  And, I won’t lie, it’s pretty awesome for the parents, as well.

Readers, what small victories have you or your kids celebrated lately?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Ramona Books And Others I Loved As A Kid

I’ve written several times how much I love to read.  The thing is, I’ve loved to read since I could.  So, now that my kids are of reading age, I’ve gone back to remember some of my favorites.  These are some of the books I remember that I loved as a kid.  As you can see, I’m even trying to pass along my love of these great books.

Ramona Books (Or Anything By Beverly Cleary)

Probably some of my favorite books are of Ramona Quimby.  She was the star of a series of books featuring a rambunctious, misunderstood little girl, and the series of many adventures.  I read these books over and over again.  They made me laugh and I got a lot of the feelings that she expressed as a kid.  These books are timeless.  I’m now enjoying reading these to my daughter.  She looks forward to our reading time and brings these to me!

While Ramona was my favorite series of books, I read just about everything else that Beverly Cleary wrote.  She really wrote a lot of great characters.  I can’t even imagine how many kids grew up with her books as their favorites.

The Great Brain Books

The Great Brain was another favorite series of mine.  This featured mainly J.D. and Tom, two brothers growing up in the late 1800’s in Utah.  Although the setting was in a much different time period, you feel like you’re right there.  It makes you appreciate the world we live in.  For example, one of the highlights of the book was when the family got an indoor plumbing!  The series of adventures are awesome.  I started reading this to my son and he loved it.  Now, he’s reading them himself!

Garfield Books

image from Morguefile courtesy of svklimkin

The Garfield strip has been going on forever, it seems like.  It still remains one of my favorite things to read every Sunday.  Back when I was a kid, they started packaging some of the ‘best’ into books.  When I started reading, there were only a few books.  Now there are over 60!  My son loves checking these out from the library and shows me some of the favorites that I remember.

James and The Giant Peach

Roald Dahl is one of the most celebrated authors of kids books, and with great reason.  Many of his books are classics.  Many cite Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as his best book.  While that is a close second, I loved James and The Giant Peach the most.  There was just something about being taken away across the world in a giant piece of fruit.  I read this book over and over again.  The funny thing about this was that I never even saw the movie.  I think I heard it wasn’t all that great.  Some books, maybe, are simply left in the imagination, perhaps.

Not Quite Human Series

The others on this list may ring with a lot of people.  I expect most can be found in a public library.  Probably not so much with this series.  This was a series of books about a man who built a robot that he called Chip.  The robot was built as a humanoid teenage boy, and the series was having Chip attend school while trying to keep his identity under wraps.  I don’t remember too many of the details, and it’s out of print.  I expect that much of the technology is probably dated, but it’s still one that I look fondly back on.  Maybe I’ll have to check out eBay and try to find some old copies.

There were hundreds of other books that I loved reading as a kid.  Many I’m sure I don’t even remember but if I saw them again, I’d add them to the list.  All I know is that reading gave me the ability to enter different worlds.  As a kid, when imagination is as big as the universe, that was a great place to be.

What are some of your favorite books you remember as a kid? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

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The Power Of Bad Habits

The other night I got really upset with my kids. They are 8 and 6 and they were bickering.  Again.  About what?  Nothing.  I got upset because their bickering has become nearly constant.  I sat them down and talked to them about it becoming a bad habit.

Two Different Personalities

My kids have two very different personalities.  They’re opposites in many ways.  My son is more the bookworm who is just fine playing on his own.  He has a difficult time fitting in, which breaks my heart because I was the same way around his age.  My daughter loves being around other people and has no problem making friends.  My son thinks very logically, where my daughter often drifts around in her thinking.

They’re both awesome and amazing, but the differences cause them to bicker.  Like, all the time.

It drives my wife and I nuts.  I know that others notice it, and it’s off putting.  I’m sure we get judged as parents though we honestly try our best  The fact is that they are two different people that spend a lot of time together, and butt heads often.

Still, it breaks our hearts when they bicker.  And, it often boils our blood.

The Start Of A Bad Habit

The bickering has become a really bad habit.  To the point where a small disagreement often instantly escalates into a shouting match.  When one or both is tired, this can happen literally 100 times between school and bedtime.

The other night, probably the 99th dust up took place and I had it.  I sat them down and tried to explain how important it was that they try to get along.  I didn’t just tell them they had to do it.  What I did was try to explain why.  And, more importantly, why they couldn’t put it off.

Bad Habits Take Root

Bad habits don’t form overnight.  You don’t just start doing something.  Most are a gradual thing.  They often take a long time to become a really bad habit.  The problem is that by the time you realize you’ve taken on a bad habit, it’s taken root in your life.  And just like some weeds that go far underground, they’re very difficult to get rid of.  If you pull a weed, it’ll come right back unless you get that root.  And, if you have a weed (like a dandelion) that roots far underground, it’ll always come back.  (My front yard can attest to this last fact).

That’s why, I explained to them, they have to address this now.

image from Morguefile courtesy of MGDboston

Bad Habits Don’t Go Away

I sat down and explained to my kids that their arguing wasn’t just impacting them now.  It’s setting them up for a bad relationship down the line.

Many people know that they’re doing something wrong and figure they’ll get to it later.  I know my kids think this way.  They figure they’ll just start getting along later.

The problem is, with bad habits, it doesn’t work that way.  Once a habit is there, it sticks there.  As time goes on, it gets tougher and tougher to get rid of.

So, I talked to my kids and explained that they’ll need each other in life.  I talked about middle school and high school, which are tough times, and how they will need to look out for one other.  I explained college and then growing up.  We talked about how one day my wife and I would’t be around, and it wouldn’t be just them.  This may seem like heavy stuff for kids that young, but I think kids need to hear it straight sometimes.  I often forget how much they can process.

And for each of the references, I explained that they wouldn’t just start getting along at any of those points if things didn’t change.

You might think, well it’s too late.  After all, they’re just 8 and 6, right?  Well, I don’t buy that at all.  There are so many things being formed in their brains. If they develop a relationship that isn’t based on trust and respect, that’s going to be how their relationship grows.  If anything, when they get to be teenagers and start hating everything, it’d be even tougher to form a stronger relationship.

The time is now.

My Fingernails As An Example Of Bad Habits

I am a nail biter.  I use this example a lot to go through how difficult it is to get rid of a bad habit. See, I started chewing my nails as a kid.  And, I still do today.

Had I stopped early on in life, it would have been a non-issue.  But, I didn’t break the habit, and now it’s with me.  Even if I do consciously quit, I think the most I’ve ever lasted is a month.  It took root and now it’s there.

I don’t want my kids bickering to be their version of nail biting.  They need each other.  To have each other can be a gift that they’ll one day want.  Need, in fact.  Trying to help them figure out a better relationship is something I desire greatly.  I even hinted it at in my 2018 goals, when I set one to ‘be protective’.  Our kids bickering and trying to get rid of it was the basis of that goal.

It’s probably the one that, if I could hope to achieve more than any other, I would target.  We can’t force them to like each other.  I would never ask my kids to change who they are.  But, I do want to make sure that they respect and appreciate each other.  That they look out for each other.  To protect each other.  It’s my biggest hope for them right now.

Readers, what do you think about bad habits?  Is it ever too early to try to work past them?  What habits have you seen that endanger relationships or affect someone for life?   Any suggestions on how to get two ‘opposites’ to form a relationship based on trust?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

12 Snow Day Activities For Kids

Kids love a snow day, right?  Every time it snows, the kids want to know if they will have school tomorrow.  On occasions they don’t, that’s great news!  For the kids, anyway.  For parents who now have to fill an unplanned day, it can be daunting. Thankfully, there are some easy and fun activities for any snow day!

Outdoor Snow Day Activities

image from Morguefile courtesy of zevik

If the kids are home with a snow day, that means that there’s snow on the ground.  Go outside and take advantage of it.

  • Build a snowman.  These can be fun and easy. Grab some extra hats and scarves and the kids will take it from there.
  • Shovel the driveway.  Kids may not get every bit of snow.  In fact, sometimes you’ll end up with more snow on the driveway than before they started!  That’s OK, though, because they’ll be having fun and keeping busy.
  • Carve out a snow fort.  If the snow is piled high enough, try hollowing out a fort.
  • Snowball fight!  Enough said.

Indoor Snow Day Activities

If it’s too cold, still snowing, or the kids have soaked their coats through, fear not.  There are plenty of things to do indoors on a snow day.

  • Bake cookies.  Kids love to help mix and scoop and watch their cookies rise in the oven.  And, of course, eating them!
  • Arts and crafts.  There are plenty of projects that kids could do.  They can make their own coloring book.  How about cards to send to family or friends?  They can make paper plate snowmen.
  • Movie and popcorn.  If you can’t get out of the house, bring the movies to you.  Pop some corn, close the drapes, and pop in a favorite movie.
  • Reading.  This can be a nice calm activity in the midst of the chaos!
  • Clean up project.  Have everybody work together to clean out a closet or something similar.  Kids may not initially like the idea of work, but once they get started, they will pile into the project.  And, then they’ll have some evidence of their accomplishment long after their snow day.
  • Video game tournament.  A little screen time is OK.  Make it fun and have a little tournament.  Just make sure everyone gets a chance to excel at something.
  • Scavenger hunt.  Kids like to look for things.  They also have great imaginations.  Send them off on a thrilling adventure around the world….all in your own house!
  • Build a fort.  Forts work great outdoors, but they also provide great fun indoors, too.  Couch cushions, pillows, blankets, and a few toys will get them engrossed in no time.

Readers, have you had to fill time with a snow day yet this year?  What fun things do your kids enjoy?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.