Tag: football and family

An Invitation for You

An Invitation for You

Monthly Spotlight: Wives Who Thrive Lessons from the Sidelines

Last week on Instagram I gave a tiny window of insight into my “real job”. Which is something I realize I don’t talk very much about even though it fills the majority of my time each week. In case you missed it here’s what I posted:

Tiny peek into a “normal” part of life for this #coachswife .
Working remotely means getting to work from home wherever home is and I’m SO incredibly thankful for each and every one of my clients.
If you had told me in college that I would spend time dissecting Google Analytics and website rankings, find researching keywords fun, write blog posts in my head and send a text or email almost every week saying “don’t worry you aren’t being hacked that’s just me”, well, I wouldn’t have even understood what you were talking about ?

I recently had my annual review and set another round of quarterly goals. It’s been a running joke between my boss and me that when he talks about Google Analytics my eyes glaze over and the truth is that I’ve had to fight the instinct to run when he pulls up the stats. However, as I’ve grown in my role as a Content Strategist and my boss has helped me to understand the way behavior analytics helps our clients better tell their stories for their target audiences I’ve become a convert. I even (finally) completed my Google Analytics certification after avoiding it longer than I should have and I’m still alive!

But somehow this job where I get to cheer people on and help them to clearly tell their stories, reach their audiences, and serve their target customers with ethical practices is a natural fit.

Sharing about my day job was so fun! And it also led to a few conversations with people curious to learn more about my day to day work.

That’s Where You Come In

I’m a huge believer in two things:

1) Cheering on women who are flourishing in life

2) Encouraging women as they pursue their callings


These days there are so many women courageously pursuing their passions in unique ways that require out-of-the-box thinking. Achieving any goal takes intentional work, but when you throw in aligning that goal with all the other parts of everyday life that women can’t ignore it’s amazing when we buckle down and pursue our passions. We achieve goals because we understand that even with late hours, or lower starting salaries it’s more rewarding to live life in the sweet spot of where our calling and passions intersect rather than to settle for second best.

Month after month I’m delighted to hear wives announce they are finally taking the leap to pursue their master’s degree, start that side hustle, or turn that side hustle into their full-time job. Other times wives share that they are re-entering the workforce after years home with babies and finding themselves feeling whole again, regaining confidence they didn’t know they lost.

My favorite stories are the ones like mine, where wives step into a career that didn’t even exist when they were in college and yet now somehow it fits them perfectly.

Are You a Wife Who Thrives?


Does this post resonate with you? Do you recognize yourself in these examples? Then I want to share your story!! Fill out this Google Doc and I’ll be in touch! I’ll be featuring a monthly spotlight for as long as the posts keep coming.

And in case you’re wondering, while this blog generally focuses on articles written to coaches’ wives and about coaches’ wives these spotlight articles are for any wife! I have no doubt that sharing your story will inspire someone to pursue their passions and dreams and that’s the goal.

Let’s be a community that cheers each other on as we all thrive in our gifts and callings!

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6 Things Saving My Sanity

6 Things Saving My Sanity

6 things saving my sanity

Football season is in full swing over here which means we’re all running a little closer to empty than I’d prefer. The boys are back in school as of today, so are adding homework and soccer to the calendar now in addition to practices. While I should add the disclaimer that compared to a college schedule our days are less focused on football alone, they are still very full. Coach has a full day of teaching, then there is practice planning, practice, film grading, school work, meetings, and that’s not including any interruptions like behavior issues.

With so much extra on his plate, I try to add a few more things to side of the task list, but with a full work schedule of my own this year I’m implementing a few new strategies to make it through game week with the least amount of stress possible. (ps- there’s a few affiliate links through here, no pressure, but if you use them we both save!)

Here are 6 things that are saving my sanity:

Plan to Eat

I started using the Plan to Eat desktop program last December and although I loved it, I wasn’t using it as much as I hoped until now! The Plan to Eat app is free and it’s absolutely changed my life.

Plan to eat is a meal planning program that allows you to store recipes, add them to a planning calendar, and create a shopping list. You can also follow other people to discover new meal plans.

Here are the features I love:

  • Auto loads recipe content from links even sorting by the type of meal
  • Saves all previous menu plans
  • Chrome add-on makes updating recipe storage section a cinch
  • Tracks how many times the same meal is planned

The calendar portion has space for 3 meals and a notes section as well. While I use this app for dinners, I could easily include additional meals. There is also a section for notes. I utilize this section to add things like “double rice” so that I remember I have 2 meals needing rice that week. I also use the notes section to build in days for leftovers and to remind me when we have a home game (which means we’re eating at the football field).

Meal Prep

I’ve written about meal prep before and it continues to be a favorite way to reduce the daily stress. I’ve got my strategy down to an hour or less by recruiting my 3 men to help. By rotating the weeks I prep roasted veggies for breakfasts and lunches with the week I bake gluten free breakfast muffins to stash in the freezer I am reducing my time in the kitchen and clean up.

My favorite meal prep strategy right now is to double and freeze. By utilizing my Instant Pot and 9×9 baking dishes, I can quickly double any recipe to use later in the month.

Shipt

I’ve been using Walmart’s Pick Up service for months, but when our local Meijer offered a home delivery membership for $49 for the year and included the option to sync my MPerks I couldn’t resist. Having the ability to have groceries delivered within a few hours of ordering without leaving my home is a luxury and I am so thankful for this amazing service!

Powersheets

The only things keeping me accountable to my goals these days is my Powersheets Binder and my accountability partner. Each month I fill out a sheet that lists monthly, weekly and daily goals as well as things I’m focusing on that month.

While the checking off of tasks each day is helpful Powersheets is much more than that. The tending and goal setting worksheets are what make this binder so helpful. Specific questions that include highlighting wins and gratitude each month have made this binder one that I will keep to look back and reflect on each year.

Lipsense

Working from home may mean I don’t need to dress up for work every day, but I still need to look presentable on video calls! Lipsense lipstick is amazing. It truly stays on all day! It took me a while to find my favorite shade, but the fun part about Lipsense is that you can layer colors to create a unique blend every day.

Even if I don’t wear any other make up I can hop on a video call and not have my client ask me if I’m feeling tired or sick. 😉

The Glorious School Bus

For the past several years I’ve driven my kids at least one way to and/or from school. Some years this was because we lived out of the area where bussing was offered, but mainly it’s been to reduce the morning rush. This year the bus pick up is the same time as we would leave our house because our kids are the last stop SO…no more school commute for Mama!!

I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. Not only can I start my workday 30 minutes earlier, but I don’t have to deal with the insanity with is parent drop off. Of course, I’ve assured my kids that I’m always available to drop them off if needed, but so far so good.

So there it is; the six things that are saving my sanity this football season and beyond. What are your sanity saving tips? I’d love to hear!

Pre-Season Camp Curse

Pre-Season Camp Curse

If you have ever been around a coaching family as their season begins you may have noticed a pattern. As soon as players report disaster strikes. While many assume this is coincidence, seasoned coaches’ wives know better. This scenario has what I have titled The Pre-Season Camp Curse. Lest you think I am being overly dramatic I’ve inventoried the past 17 Augusts and I’ll highlight a few of my favorite camp memories below.

Past August Disasters:

  • Three years in a row Ordell and I both broke our cell phones in August once accidentally emerging them in water on the same night while in different states.
  • One year a “quick roof repair” ended with on coach falling off our roof and Ordell in the ER after stepping on a nail (through work boots) that was likely 50 years old.
  • My favorite year was the one where both cars picked up nails in the tires on the same day and after returning from the second tire patch repair I discovered a “helpful” neighbor had called to have our water turned off due to a water puddle on the driveway.
  • That same home in August had a collapsed pipe which took 2.5 weeks to repair, causing our family to move onto campus for camp and live in a tiny guest house. Then upon returning home, we discovered the pipe repair had invited mice.
  • August is the month we accidentally leave the car lights on all night and awake to dead batteries.
  • It’s the month appliances break down.
  • The bank has messed up check deposits and then applied fees for overdrawn accounts.
  • Levi ended up in the ER one year for a massive poison ivy exposure where he ended up with a steroid shot and week of meds.
  • We had a major storm come through and a dying tree limb fell tearing the electrical box off our home and a neighbor’s and I awoke to a blocked in car and four men in the driveway arguing about who was going to pay for the tree removal…none of which was my husband.

tree in driveway
Ahh…memories

Here’s How I Handle the Curse

While I can chuckle now at the insanity of past August disasters, I’ve learned that it’s impossible to avoid the crazy. What will happen will happen so instead, I’ve learned to implement a few strategic August boundaries to minimize the effects of the Pre-season Camp Curse.

Prep Ahead

Each summer I spend a little time adding meals to the freezer in anticipation of the days when dinner time is hectic in August. By preparing the basics ahead of time the expense of a “disaster” is reduced. For example, when the oven breaks we don’t need to eat out. Dinner is in the freezer. When the car breaks and we’re stuck at home we don’t need to order pizza, because dinner is ready.

I also prep ahead by using August to turn over clothing wardrobes, gathering school supplies and purging the house. These tasks keep my kids busy in those last days before school which minimizes fighting. These things also set us up to cost a bit through the fall. The yearly routines are necessary so it’s not seen as busy work.

Simplify

Much of August is spent on the football field, so there isn’t much time for fancy meals. Fresh veggies and grilled meat are enough to keep everyone running and reduces the grocery store stops as well.

The calendar is also simplified. We have one commitment at the beginning of August. Football. This doesn’t mean we don’t spend time with friends, but we do eliminate many things from our calendar. We don’t travel (we’ll do enough of that September-December), we don’t have overnight visitors (everyone sleeps in their own beds), and we don’t overschedule our days.

Ask for Help

When I awoke to zero electricity and a bunch of strange men in my driveway I couldn’t call Ordell, but I could call my friend Sharon. Her husband, a lineman was likely to have some idea of what I needed to do and say. Turns out Sharon did too and she also knew the men so she could put my mind at ease and help me ask the right questions.

When the pipe collapsed I asked friends if we could crash at their homes until on-campus housing was available instead of dealing with a home without water. This may seem silly, but I know plenty of coaches’ wives who would rather go it alone than ask for help…and it’s completely unnecessary.

When the boys were little I found babysitters in August so I could get a break from being alone with my boys all day. Simple things like running errands were no longer stressful and we were all happier in the end.

While the camp curse is frustrating, it doesn’t need to completely derail you! Take a breath, ask for help and head to the football field. All will even out once pre-season camp ends. And until then…may the odds be ever in your favor. 😉

Annual Guys Weekend

Annual Guys Weekend

In our current stage in life, Ordell has committed to bringing our sons away each summer for a few days of adventure. When we were working with college teams the time away was more about reconnecting and establishing a solid line of communication before players reported.

Now, this time away happens during the one-week mid-summer when football isn’t happening, making the time away more about uninterrupted time together than anything else.

I would be remiss to ignore the fact that with all my guys away I’m the one who actually gets the vacation during this family tradition, but with a commitment to “make memories” I think all four of us agree the annual guys weekend is one of our favorite family traditions.

Here’s Why an Annual Guys Weekend is Important for our Family

Football takes a back seat while the guys are camping. Ordell does a great job each year of researching a place that is kid-friendly and also has hiking trails with rocks so our boys can take as many climbing breaks as they want.

Cascades, VA
Actual hiking trail my kids conquered in 2015 and 2016

With hiking, star gazing, fishing, campfires and plenty of rock climbing to keep everyone busy my crew comes home dirty, exhausted, and smiling from fun memories. They’ve also had a few days break from most screens and internet, so they are re-focused as well.

These Annual Guys Weekends 

  • Create space for long conversations
  • Create memories between brothers and father and sons
  • Create an opportunity for uninterrupted talks
  • Provide an outlet for adventure
  • Are football free spaces
  • All for rejuvenation

As our boys have gotten older, these trips have included age-appropriate conversations about their stage of life as well as vision casting. As a coach’s wife, I’ve watched my husband pour into hundreds of boys through our almost two decades together. It isn’t a surprise to me that he takes his responsibility with our sons seriously, but the intentionality is something I believe our boys will appreciate more in a few years than they do as they look around their campsite each year for an escape. 😉

How I Take Advantage of Guys Weekend

As soon as my men are out the door, I begin an extended self-care routine. This year I saved one of those giant bath bombs for my days of solitude. Since I can have girl time with lunches or coffee anytime, I try to use my days for things I like to do around the house without interruption.

I may head out for a pedicure and extended workouts, but mostly I eat salads and my favorite almond milk ice cream (it’s called balance people!) pop on chick flicks and rest.

This year I had a pedicure scheduled but ended up skipping it in exchange for more solitude. I also blocked out some uninterrupted writing time. For some reason, my thoughts are clearer in an empty house these days, and I didn’t want to let the opportunity slip away. I always spend some time working, that’s unavoidable, but since I’m on my timeline, I find that I wrap up my independent weekends feeling I’ve been productive both personally and professionally.

One year I spent a significant part of the time getting spots out of the carpets in our rental house. Since that meant a lot of applying cleaning solution and waiting it was perfect. Other times I’ve purged the house in prep for garage sales or moves.

These annual guys weekend adventures are a perfect way for me to seize time for myself and for my three men to connect in a way only guys can. I’m so thankful for a husband who understands the value of time outside of football and for his intentionality with our sons. He serves us well and the memories built over these annual trips are part of the proof!

Lessons from a Great Surprise

Lessons from a Great Surprise

A few weekends ago Ordell and I celebrated our 17th Wedding Anniversary. We’ve never had expectations around gifts, and we celebrated our early anniversaries at FCA family camp, so we haven’t always paid attention to the exact date.

I decided that I’d take advantage of a Saturday anniversary and plan an atypical date. Date night as a coach’s wife is often atypical, but rarely a surprise.

We’ve been together close to two decades at this point, and that makes surprises a bit more challenging to execute, but it also makes it that much more fun when it’s successful.

Here’s where a little background will be helpful, my husband grew up in a family that hunted with father who was a police officer. Guns were always a part of his life whereas they were not a part of mine. I’m not comfortable around guns, and all the happenings in the news haven’t changed my mind. So when Ordell mentioned at the end of May that the local shooting range offers a date night package, I knew he wasn’t doing so expecting me to join him eagerly.

This is why suggesting our anniversary dinner begin at the shooting range was a perfect surprise. The great thing about a surprise is that you never know the outcome, and in this case, I was surprised too.

Lessons from a Great Surprise

1- Preparation is Key

I knew there would be a little prep that had to happen before our date, so I made sure to communicate that the offer for shooting range date night was good for today or the near future. My man is wise and knew the chances of me chickening out were strong, so we spent a little time practicing shooting fundamentals before we headed out.

2- Having an Open Mind is Helpful

Beyond the instructions Ordell gave me I had no idea what to expect when we entered the range. I’m so glad I chose not to overthink things. Had I walked into our date with any assumptions I could have set a negative tone or expectations that I couldn’t meet. Instead, I knew I would need to prove I could safely shoot a gun to have a successful date. I took my requirements seriously and passed with flying colors(check out that target above, I hit my mark straight on).

3- There is Always an Opportunity to Impress Your Loved Ones

My husband and sons were all impressed with my results and honestly, so was I. My instructor explained that my attention to detail with applying the fundamentals was what allowed me success. This new experience was one I was on high alert for, and I did not rush through things. Even though I wasn’t sure if it was a one time experience or something I would do again in the future taking things seriously was important.

This choice also showed my husband that I respect his hobby. Had I gone in with an attitude of anything other than respect, I may not have passed the qualification and that would have ruined the whole date.

4- New Experiences Bond a Couple

My willingness to engage with Ordell’s semi-regular hobby created a whole new area of memories that are just ours. It also opened a window to entire areas of conversation we previously couldn’t have. There are some things you just need to experience in person and for me, the shooting range was one of them.

5- Quality Time Doesn’t Mean Always Doing Things One Way

One of my love languages is quality time. In the past I’ve assumed this has meant that we need to do something we both enjoy but it turns out that’s not the case! Choosing to step out of my comfort zone and engage in something my husband enjoys was fun because happiness is contagious when we allow it be so. Spending time together, just us always has the potential to be fun, but it’s a choice to embrace an experience and classify it as quality time.

6- It’s Never too Late to Learn Something New

While I was pretty tired from adrenaline by the end of our outing, but I was also pleased with my shots and feeling more comfortable in my surroundings. I didn’t hate our date, likely because I decided to have an open mind combined with a love for the company. Knowing I can successfully attend a shooting range date night is great, it also means I have a new experience, potential skill and future date nights available.

Planning excursions often falls to us wives during the season. What I loved most about our adventure is that it was completely outside of a typical date expectation and it had nothing to do with football. Our sport takes up a significant amount of our conversation and calendar. It was great to spend date night as a coach’s wife without anyone associating that title with our adventure.

So go ahead and plan a surprise for your favorite coach, you may just surprise yourself too and hit a bullseye on the target at the same time.

Coaching Family’s Preseason Getaway

Coaching Family’s Preseason Getaway

While our summers are never exactly the same I’ve tried to prioritize a few things. One of the benefits of building summer memories is that they have helped to ease the boys into the football season.

A college summer for our family has provided a more flexible schedule than our current summers.  High school football includes weeks of practice. Our season essentially began this week and with the exception of a few days off here or there we will wrap up football in November.

Tommy Bartlett Show

This extended focus on the season has increased the importance of a family getaway and this year we headed to Wisconsin Dells for a great time of waterpark fun. We were able to enjoy time with cousins, time as a family of four, and time as a couple.

We laughed, we stayed up late, we tried new things and most importantly we created new memories. Mostly, we didn’t talk about football except when we ran into an incoming Freshman who’s dad had to say hello while we were eating at a restaurant…but that’s actually normal for us too.

I have come to believe that one of the best things we can do to help our boys foster a love for the football life is to create amazing memories that have nothing to do with football. There is no doubt football is a calendar priority and a family affair, but it doesn’t have to be the ONLY important memory our family holds.

Adjusting Back to Life

Interestingly, the day after we arrived back from vacation was busier than normal with a full work day, dentist appointment, kick-off of Bible study and of course the need to grocery shop. While we were away I finished Chrysal Stine’s book Holy Hustle. Her encouragement to reflect on my calendar and to reflect on a life where we embrace the work we’ve been given while finding our worth in God alone had an interesting effect on me.

Pre-season is usually the time of year where I become super organized and try to think several steps ahead in every calendar area I can find. Instead, I found myself unwilling to step back into the hustle. Even with a pressured expectation from a family member outside our house expressed an urgency about a matter that wasn’t really urgent I sidestepped the usual instinct to jump on the bandwagon of doing things according to other’s timelines.

I’m thankful for a vacation to realign my perspective and reaffirm desire to find work/life balance this year.

Holy Hustle Book Review

What I loved most about Holy Hustle is how relatable Crystal Stine is. Her transparency and vulnerability allowed for me to see how my life journey has run parallel to hers and even times I’ve caught myself in the same cycles of running the race (or hustle) the world sees as necessary.

I’ve spent the majority of my life since college seeking to position myself to fully understand and live God’s calling for my life. Holy Hustle was perfectly timed as a reminder that our yeses and nos are important both in work and life.

Crystal does a beautiful job of tying in what scripture says about work and life balance. In this year of striving to simplify life Holy Hustle was the perfect mid-year affirmation I needed.

 

Remote Working Work/Life Balance Strategies

Remote Working Work/Life Balance Strategies

work life balance

One thing I’ve heard from bloggers and podcasters often is that we shouldn’t assume people tell their whole stories on social media especially if they present the illusion that they have their lives completely organized and running smoothly. Jamie Ivey often says when she’s home she is 100% home and when she travels she is 100% focused on work. While that is a great suggestion, when your family, home, and office all overlap 100% of the time it is necessary to develop different work/life balance strategies.

Earlier this month I featured the pros and cons of working remotely. While nine months out of the year my days are divided into sections where my guys are at work and school and when they are home, summer is coming and that means football practices will begin and the kids will not have a regular weekly schedule. While there are times within each month that I find myself working to meet a deadline and ignoring other things that require attention, I have found that with a little preparation and a good amount of discipline work/life balance is achievable most days.

Here are my remote working work/life balance strategies:

Meal Planning and Prep

While summer is easier, most of the year dinner execution falls to me. Even if a meal is completed by someone else I’m still the one to make sure all the ingredients are available. You can read about my meal prep process once a menu is planned here. 

Notice that I have a list of things to keep on hand. With growing boys appetites vary. I build in 1-2 leftover days with each weekly menu, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. It’s easier to have some meals to quickly throw together than to have to run to the grocery store.

Every week I ask if there are meal requests and browse what we have in the house that will work together to create meals. I check the calendars I’ve built in Plan to Eat and compare my plan with previous weeks and then I write out the menu for everyone to see.

Plan to Eat is my go-to recipe database and meal planner. It stores all my recipes, syncs well with Pinterest and allows me to build menus as far out as I choose. There’s also a tab to help figure out what items I need to add to my grocery list. You can use my affiliate link if you are interested in Plan to Eat. Plans start at $4.95 for a month. My favorite part is that Plan to Eat allows you to “always export all of your recipes, even after your subscription has expired.”

My last meal strategy is to include my guys in the planning and cooking of meals. In the summer each guy has a night where they are in charge of the whole meal from planning to prep and clean up. Through the school year, I’ll often have them help me put together a side dish or make pancakes on the weekends.

I’m keeping meals healthy, reasonably priced and simple by:

  • Planning ahead
  • Prepping ahead on the weekend
  • Writing out the menu so everyone knows what to expect
  • Utilizing grocery services to stay on track with my list and budget
  • Including the whole family in the process.

Prioritizing Health

The best way I can keep work/life balance is by prioritizing my health. This includes regular exercise, eating healthy, making sure to limit caffeine and sweets, and incorporating vitamins and essential oils into my daily routine.

My strategy is to put my workout clothes on first thing. Whether that means I’m heading out to workout first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon I wear my workout clothes until I have completed exercise for the day. Sometimes this means I head out for a quick walk followed by some planks as the day gets away from me, but by having my clothes on I’m able to throw on my gym shoes and go whenever the time allows.

Cleaning Through the Week

I take advantage of the fact that I’m home and I take short breaks through the day to keep up on chores. This does make the weekdays a little fuller, but in reality, I’m spending less than 15 minutes most days cleaning while at the same time saving myself a few hours of time on the weekend.

Google Apps

Family Calendar

We have a shared Google Calendar for the family. This includes all activities going on including all practices, special events, doctor appointments and anything else that’s going on. Once a week when the boys bring home their school communications we make sure the calendar is up-to-date.

Google Keep

This app may be my favorite Google app. Shared lists allow for Ordell to add groceries to my running list without having to tell me. When he remembers he needs protein powder and I’m not around he can just add it to the list.

Google Keep allows for several lists to build at the same time and you can add alarm reminders as well. We have lists for library books and movies we want to see, doTerra oils we need to reorder, and tasks that need to be completed such as take the kids for haircuts. This app syncs with Google Drive, so you can access it even when your phone is in the other room.

Google Drive

We’ve finally found the perfect way to make sure all the papers and receipts and documents are not lost and aren’t stored in email boxes. Google Drive has become organized storage for tax documents, emails with information needed in the future, budget tracking, and photos. Using these steps I’ve been able to send emails and documents to Google Drive without having to print and store things. Since the drive folders are shared I also don’t have to remember where everything is!

Digital Intentionality

Laptop

The final work strategy I’ve adopted is the habit of closing my laptop and placing it across the room by a certain time each day. The time of day varies because I don’t work a steady 9-5, but each day once it’s closed I’m done for the day. If I remember there is something I need to do the next day I add it to my Google Keep list and deal with it the next day.

Phone

I’ve also set phone notifications for email and Slack to turn off at a certain point eliminating the temptation to answer the email that comes in late.

I’m a big fan of scheduling texts. When I remember at 6 am that I wanted to try to have lunch with a girlfriend this week I’ll schedule a text to go out later that morning. They will respond when they can, but I don’t need to continue to try to remember to send a text, and I don’t send something at a crazy time of the day.

Voxer is another app that helps me stay connected with both work and life. Sending a quick voice message helps me feel more connected to certain people.

Accountability

This year I’ve utilized Powersheets and it has been a great option to track short and long-term goals. The pages are well structured with check-in points and specific questions to think beyond the surface of life.

I also meet bi-weekly with a partner. We discuss where we are with goals and offer insights and encouragements to each other.

Embracing working from home has included accepting that my days still need to start at between  6-6:30 am through the week to make sure I have time to exercise and spend time with God, but without the strategies I’ve highlighted today I’d be starting at 5 am. I know because I’ve learned the need for strategies the hard way.

Ultimately, we all need to find the things that work for us. I’ve found that my family thrives on structure whether they realize it or not. Additionally, once something is implemented adjusting hasn’t been hard.

Holding Your Kids to a Higher Standard

Holding Your Kids to a Higher Standard

When our middle schooler entered his new school at the beginning of the fourth quarter last year we did a quick tour of the building before he entered his first class. Every person we encountered received the same information. “This is our new coach’s son.” And with that tiny sentence my son lost his chance for anonymity.

He knew after the first week he wasn’t going to avoid the standard questions:

  • How’s the team looking?
  • Do you think we will win more games next year?
  • How do you like living here?

And to his credit, our son answered each to the best of his ability with a smile and little information offered.

A few weeks later his counselor called to update me on his adjustment. She commented on how polite he is and how he seems to be settling in. I was glad her feedback from teachers was positive, but settling in well was not real life at that time. Those emotions were reserved for the time at home.

While some might wonder if it was wise to keep the challenges of adjusting to yet another new school from the counselor, I knew that her function was to focus on class schedules and behavior. I also knew that nothing she would say would quicken the pace of mourning the loss of friends and having to start over again.

A Higher Standard

Tim Elmore recently posted an article titled The New Unwritten Rule for Parents That Hurt’s Everyone. Tim is an authority on Generations Y and Z and his findings are always evidence-based.

His point is that we are harming our children by simply giving them everything they want and setting them up for future failure.

Coach’s Kids

I wasn’t surprised by Elmore’s findings, but I am always grateful when information like this is put into writing. Our kids will never be afforded the opportunity to receive everything they want even if we wanted to give it to them we can’t.

We Won’t Live Separately

Giving our sons everything they want would have meant living in two separate states or leaving our children in someone else’s hands to raise. We dealt with the same emotions with each of our last two moves.

Keeping our family unit together knits us closer together, it models for our sons how we support each other in marriage, and it opens new opportunities for them to grow and mature as well. By not giving our kids what they want, we give them what they actually need.

Kids Change Their Minds

Eventually, our kids have realized their immediate desires were not as great as the change they didn’t want to face. This has been true with moving, trying new classes and activities as well as new routines.

Kids don’t know what they want longterm, and it’s ok to hold them to a higher expectation of embracing what you are asking of them first.

We Can’t Afford It

Coaching at the D3 and NAIA level doesn’t pay well. Additionally, moving is expensive even when the school is footing part of the bill.

If They Want It Bad Enough They Will Buy It

While we may not give our kids everything they want, we do provide opportunities for them to purchase things themselves. It’s not surprising though, that amazing souvenir they “need” isn’t as appealing when their own money is involved.

Gratitude Is Vital

We want our kids to be thankful for the gives they do receive. The best way for this to happen is for them to have an awareness of the sacrifices and work it takes for gifts to be given

Obedience is Necessary

Part of our life in coaching includes understanding God places us in towns where he has called us to serve. How we serve will look different at times, but the call is still the same. Bloom where you are planted by investing.

Obedience is a character trait that develops with time and practice. It is one that all humans share a common dislike and rebellious spirit for in some areas of our lives. But obedience is an expectation of God. We will help our children best when we model obedience for them and expect them to live obediently as well.

Say Yes When You Can

Saying no to every “I want” doesn’t mean your children never get to do anything they desire. Say yes when you can. Say yes when they don’t expect it.  Say yes and then lavish more than the yes request called for and do it generously. It’s not always about the no. But it is about the why behind the yes or no.

Doing This Publically

While it may be a great example of drawing the short stick, it’s likely your children will live part of their lives in a fishbowl. They will have unwritten expectations on their lives and it won’t feel fair, but it’s also unavoidable.

By setting the standards sooner rather than later we set our children up for success even in the public’s watchful eye. But there is another side to this. If our kids can’t express themselves in public in all situations they must feel safe to do so in their own home.

Let them mourn losing friends and being the new kid. Let them complain about missing out on something and listen to them as they process their emotions. Help them to see when you’re hurting as well.

A higher standard of living isn’t an awful calling. It is a harder path. But as with most things, the hardest paths are often the most fruitful. Be brave Mama! You’ve got this. It’s ok to say no even when you know a short-term yes will feel good now. It will make the yeses so much more delightful!

Small Colleges and Small Towns

Small Colleges and Small Towns

Small Colleges and Small Towns

Christianity Today’s article Rural Fish Bowl Pastor Dad needs to be just Dad is a well written, honest reflection on the unspoken expectations a pastor’s family encounters in many towns across the US.

Here’s a preview:

“As a young 20-something youth pastor, I went to the Assisted Living Center to have coffee and lead a Bible study. Sure enough, I would be in the news. I thought it was cool because I was meeting the expectations of the community and they all knew it.

Unfortunately, it did not occur to me that those expectations would be placed on my wife and my children. It has been a harsh reality-check and weight that I hate they have to bear. It seems like it’s magnified in a small town.” (emphasis mine)

 

My Small Town Experience:

I grew up in the Chicago suburbs adjacent to a small college. In fact, within 20 miles of my childhood home, there are three small colleges. I also attended a small college on in the Northern Suburbs of Chicago.

Even with all my familiarity to small colleges, when we moved to a small farming community where the main employers were the small private college, federal prison, and school district I was not well equipped to handle life in a fishbowl.

Life in a fishbowl is not unique to pastors and their families, although I believe they feel it intensely because of how churches are small communities of their own, it’s likely that a coaching family will experience many of the same stresses if they are a part of a small college in a small town.

Here’s What Worked For Me:

Get out of town regularly

One of the first words our oldest child learned to say was “Kanera” (Panera). Another was “apple,” and you guessed it, a third was  “bagel.” When I just couldn’t handle the fishbowl for a minute longer, I packed up the kid and headed out for lunch a few towns away. We would sit outside at Panera and eat bagels and apples, and for a little while no one would interrupt us or ask how recruiting was going or if we were going to win that weekend. It was glorious.

Another example from that time is that another coach’s wife and I established a ritual. We left the kids with our husbands and drove 30 minutes to a neighboring town for a great meal, pedicures, a little shopping and a LOT of talking. We did this every 4-6 weeks, and it was absolutely life-giving.

Foster friendships outside the community

After several years in the fishbowl, we realized that the healthiest thing we could do for our family was to find a church where we could worship separately from same people we worked with and shopped with and saw every other minute of every other day. That church provided the first safe small group for us in years. We were able to be ourselves and feel supported in hard life situations without concern any confidence shared would soon be sent around town.

While chatting on the phone isn’t nearly as personal as heading to the local coffee shop, when life handed us lemons the safest people to talk to were those away from us. While that isn’t always the case, it’s important to remember that in small towns people often have long histories that are connected in many overlapping layers.

Even if they want to support you as a friend, they may feel pressure to stay neutral to preserve relationships. Remember, when you move they will still be in relationships with those other people. Protect their future dealings by allowing your friends to stay unaware of any conflicts you encounter.

Don’t feel pressure to overshare

True friendships aren’t single-sided. Share what you can so that your tribe knows you authentically value them.

Brene Brown said it best:

“Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: “Who has earned the right to hear my story?” If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.”

In a small town, people naturally know a lot about each other. As the outsider coming in, there is insecurity and curiosity because the same familiarity isn’t present. That’s ok! Your new community will learn about you as time goes on when they have earned the right to learn things.

You may encounter odd questions such as:

  • Who’s house do you live in?
  • Do your children have the same father?
  • Are you related to so and so?
  • Who in town are you related to?
  • Why are you here?
  • How long are you staying?

These are not questions you need to answer until you are ready. And frankly, they aren’t questions you ever need to answer in most cases because people will find out the answers themselves when curious enough.

Be the best version of who you are in public whenever possible

I always remind my kids that wherever we are, whether we think it’s fair or not, we represent Dad. We have public statements that are ok to say and things we only say in our own home.

In a small town, I couldn’t get away with running to the store without makeup on because it would mean 10 people would stop me to ask if I was sick and then later I would hear from someone else they heard I was sick the other day. Which this is a mild example, please know that not all observations are so silly.

Be wise about who you allow access to you through social media

If you aren’t going to keep your opinions off social media, it’s wise to make sure that you have a tight filter on which friend requests you send and accept. Screenshots can be sent easily, and let me tell you, in my experience fishbowls hold long grudges.

I found that social media was an easy way for people in the community to “keep tabs” on each other. I also learned that this was something many found to be a natural extension of small-town life where “everyone knows everything about each other anyway”.

The problem was that it was also the most common way to unknowingly offend someone. It was easier to stay neutral with most people by just limiting social.

Be Aware, But Embrace It

It took me a few years to embrace the reality of where we were living. Once I did I realized I had wasted a lot of time in denial when I could have been having fun.

While living in a fishbowl was not always easy, I know our years in that small community helped shape me into the person I am today. I also developed dear friendships that I deeply value to this day. My kids experienced small-town life, and it has helped them to be grateful for all they are surrounded by now instead of taking it for granted.

One of the best parts of the coaching life is the opportunity to experience and learn from people in different parts of the country. Eventually, through a good amount of trial and error, I found people who have similar thoughts and beliefs to mine but I also learned from a lot of people who have very different ideas than mine. That small town experience expanded my worldview and solidified many of my beliefs in God.

Small colleges are in small towns across the country, and in many, there are conflicts between “townies” and “college-folk”. Either way you are in a fishbowl, so enjoy both experiences while they last. As you know with coaching the likelyhood of staying forever is pretty slim.

 

Meal Prep Plan for Any Season

Meal Prep Plan for Any Season

I’ve just completed my second restricted diet due to my thyroid being unbalanced and as with most things, the second time was avoidable had I learned my lesson the first time. That’s ok though, because now that I know “a little bit of gluten” WILL actually hurt I’m much more willing to go through the hassle of preparing three meals a day that I can safely eat.

The biggest meal hassles come during the times when our family is in-season. This year We’ve had someone in-season for 10 out of 12 months and the two out of season months were November and December. Add that to the fact that my boys now eat like men and I’m working full-time for the first time with kids and this Mama needed to implement an easily executable plan for any season.

Rules:

  • Gluten free when possible
  • Mama doesn’t cook on Sundays
  • Variety
  • I’m ok with eating something completely different than my guys

Breakfast:

My three top breakfasts are listed below. I rotate these with protein shakes and usually have a piece of fruit.

1.Healthy Pumpkin Muffins (with Gluten-Free oats)

2. Banana Muffins

  • Gluten-free yellow or chocolate cake mix
  • Frozen fruit or mini chocolate chips
  • 3 mashed bananas

Bake 350 for 15 minutes

3. Frittata if not having eggs for lunch (eggs and veggies baked in a pie dish, 4 servings)

Grab and Go:

  • Raw fusion protein shake with unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • Vega or Go Macro Protein bars

Lunch:

My favorite lunch rotates, I usually have grilled chicken strips in the freezer that I will heat up with roasted veggies. The next option is a lettuce wrap (check out this tutorial from Against All Grain). Hummus with gluten-free crackers and veggies is another easy choice.

  • Egg salad (Instant Pot: 6 eggs, 1 1/4 c water, 4 min on manual; quick release and put eggs in an ice bath)
  • Roasted veggies (2 trays at a time, my favorite combo is: sweet potatoes, peppers, onion, carrots; add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper)
  • Prep fresh veggies (carrots, celery, mini peppers) and Dip
  • Hummus

Grab and Go:

  • Fruit, protein bar/shake, veggies, almonds
  • Gluten-free pretzels

Dinners:

Dinners are the only meal I prep for our family. Thankfully the boys are all capable of getting breakfasts and lunches on their own and cleaning up for themselves. While I find that some meals aren’t good when frozen first, there is almost always at least a portion that can be made ahead of time. There are endless options for meal plans so I decided to just give you an idea of what I made this time.

  • Ground chicken tacos  (frozen)
  • Chicken and veggie “fried” rice  (in fridge to eat this week)
  • Chicken and banana pepper sandwiches  (combined with frozen chicken)
  • Satay chicken, peppers and onions (combined with frozen chicken)
  • Chicken enchilada bake -freeze rice separately or make rice day of meal. I swap refried beans for black beans and pinto beans.  (combined with frozen chicken)
  • 3 pizza doughs
  • Pizza sauce
  • Chicken pot pie (double filling/freeze 1)

This list here is 12 meals. I baked chicken to add to the fried rice and chicken pot pie fillings. I also made the taco and added them to the freezer. Everything in the freezer can be taken out and thawed day of consumption. Instant pot or baked will work.

On hand Ingredients for quick meals:

Even when I haven’t had time to prep the week’s meals I’ve found that a well-stocked freezer will keep my guys happy. Meatballs can be added to pasta with frozen veggies or mixed with marinara for sandwiches. Tator tots are a quick side dish that can also double as a filling in some casserole dishes.

  • Chicken patties/GF nuggets
  • Meatballs
  • Marinara
  • Frozen veggies
  • Fish
  • Tator tots (gluten-free)
  • GF Pancake mix
  • Frozen fruit (side dish, smoothies)
  • Tortillas for quesadillas
  • Tuna Cakes – thanks to Aldi gluten free stuffing mix these are a quick meal the whole family can enjoy!
  • Almond-dijon chicken bake
  • BBQ sauce for sandwiches
  • Pizza Dough
  • Gluten-free cake mix (used for desserts, muffins, quick breads)

When the guys are eating chicken pot pie I’ll eat leftover chicken fried rice. When they have pizza I have my own on a gf crust. While burgers make the rotation a few times a month they weren’t on this week’s menu. They are also a great quick meal and can be prepped ahead of time.

Through the summer this will adjust to incorporate grilling several times a week and roasted veggies will be exchanged for grilled veggies and fresh salads.

Good luck and remember in whatever season you are in, this too shall pass. Eating chicken nuggets and apple slices at home is always better than from a restaurant, but when a drive-thru is needed it’s always appreciated.

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