Archives For Kids

Baseball is a game of long-standing tradition. I firmly believe that no other sport has remained as true to its original form.

Prior to the last couple of years, I could confidently state that basketball players were flashier, football players were more obnoxious, and golfers were overly tailored. The good ol’ boys of baseball simply came out to play. They only needed their mitts, their caps, and a wooden bat.

Baseball player uniforms were as pure as the game.

The uniform arsenal typically consisted of a white jersey and a jersey of color. Pants were either solid or pinstripe. If players wanted to get super crazy, they might choose to slap on some eye black.

Perfect swing by Chipper Jones of the ATL Braves

Perfect swing by Chipper Jones of the ATL Braves, who is darn near perfect himself.

Chipper Jones in the navy uniform.

Chipper Jones in a navy Braves uniform. Man, I miss seeing this guy on the big screen.

Then something weird happened around the year 2000. As far as I can tell by my extensive online research (searching Google for 15 minutes), the San Diego Padres decided to up their long-standing tradition of supporting the armed forces by introducing camouflage jerseys on Military Opening Day.

Over the past decade, much to my dismay, the camo jerseys have multiplied faster than mogwais dipped in water. Kids, if you don’t understand this reference, do yourself a favor and watch Gremlins today.

I mean, seriously…They. Are. Everywhere. From the big leagues to the little leagues and at every level in between. They are worn by players and coaches alike.

I now find myself walking into the ballpark somewhat guarded, wondering if I’m going to be attacked by a barrage of paintballers when I least expect it.

Some uniforms are more obnoxious than others.

camo

Exhibit A: San Diego Padres pitcher in his camo/cow print-inspired garb.

The little guys who look up to the pros want to emulate their idols. Therefore, new this season, both of my own boys’ teams have included a camo jersey in their uniform arsenal.

The 12-year old in his camo jersey - preparing for battle on the ball field (eye roll).

Exhibit B: The 12-year old in his camo jersey – preparing for battle on the ball field (eye roll). The 10-year old’s jersey has yet to arrive.

While I realize the game is not about ME and my personal preferences – this is an ongoing lesson I am struggling to learn – I’d like to believe I’m not alone when I say that the only people who should don the camo style are those serving in the military or trying to hunt down defenseless animals.

One serviceman quoted on Paul Lukas’ website, Uni Watch: The Obsessive Study of Athletics Aesthetics, had this to say:

“I’ve been in the Army for a little over 12 years. I appreciate the thought and tribute behind teams wearing military-themed uniforms, but I have yet to see one that didn’t look horrible. I hate to criticize without providing a viable alternative, but I think they should find another, more aesthetically pleasing, way to express their patriotism.” — Jon Vieira

Jon, I respect both your service to our country and your common sense in general.

I plan to continue to add pictures of camo jerseys I see at youth ballparks on this site as the season progresses. If you like them, try to convince me why in the comment section. If you don’t like them and agree with me that they’re obnoxious, I’ll count your comment as a signature in my ongoing petition against this black mark on the history of baseball.

Written by Heidi Woodard

Cheerios made huge strides by featuring a “controversial” interracial family in their advertisements – not once, but twice – the latest airing during Super Bowl Sunday.

The fictional family is made up of actors – a black dad, white mom, and their young daughter.

The first commercial, which aired in May 2013, drew immediate viewer feedback. Sadly, the majority of the earliest comments was negative. So negative that the comments section had to be disabled.

The common rule, “If you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything at all,” doesn’t exactly translate online. Comments tend to be a lot more critical when typed versus spoken.

After the initial backlash, General Mills, which owns Cheerios, received an outpouring of support from viewers. The company decided to sink an additional $4 million investment into their follow-up Super Bowl ad that featured the same family.

I recently had a friend share a video with me that asked kids for their opinions on the first Cheerios ad. The interviewer asked open-ended questions like, “What did you think of the family?” and “Do you have any idea about why people are angry about the parents in this commercial?”

The children’s answers are worth listening to with an open mind.

Although they are visibly shocked upon realizing that racism still exists to the extent it does, their overall response is one of love. “You don’t have to leave mean comments,” one says. “Think about those people…they probably feel horrible,” echoes another.

Watching their reactions made me think about the little kids I see everyday at preschool when I drop off and pick up my youngest. Let me give you a listen into the types of conversations I hear.

She forgot to wear her crazy socks so I gave her a hug.

He doesn’t have a dog like us, but his cat is cute.

She just moved here and is shy. We shared crayons.

I took his snack. (Come on, you didn’t expect them all to be innocent and selfless, did you?)

Now, let me tell you what I don’t hear.

She doesn’t practice the right religion.

I feel like her family make-up is unethical and wrong.

He voted for the wrong politician.

Her skin color makes me feel uncomfortable.

We are all entitled to our own opinions and I’ll be damned if I don’t do everything within my power to respect those who have different opinions than my own. What I cannot respect are people who chastise and judge others because they disagree with their beliefs, because they don’t agree with who they love, and because they don’t respect human differences.

Let me leave you with one of the best stories I’ve heard.

Today is Rosa Finnegan’s 102nd birthday. She gives a precious glimpse into her life while giving everyone hope that it’s never too late to love thy neighbor.  

Give five minutes of your time to listen to her interview with NPR.

Trust me. You won’t regret it.

Rosa Finnegan in her nursing home in Massachusetts. c/o NPR

Rosa Finnegan in her nursing home in Massachusetts. c/o NPR

Written by Heidi Woodard

Your mom loves you. That is one assurance you should never ever doubt.

Even when I’m shouting at you. You should consider my out of control rants as me just having a hard time controlling my overflowing fondness of you. Actually, I yell at you because you sort of drive me completely and totally insane at times.

Jaycee winter walk

Jaycee winter walk

But, even during our most trying times together, I am happier with you next to me than I ever am without you.

I know you look to me and your dad for guidance and you probably question whether or not we know what we’re doing.

Allow me to let you in on a little secret: we don’t.

Ready to conquer the world...starting with grade school

Ready to conquer the world…starting with grade school

You likely wonder if we even know what it feels like to be your age. Honestly, I can’t remember how it feels to not have grownup responsibilities. Don’t take that statement the wrong way. I know you have a lot on your mind too. My preoccupations are simply different than yours.

I know that my parents were/are always there for me and so I’m trying to do the same for you. I feel like I can talk to you about anything and my ultimate wish is that you always feel the same way about me.

If I get only one thing right on this parenting journey, make it be that you know you can come to me with whatever’s on your mind both now and forever.

Your memories make me smile

Your memories make me smile

Your dad and I both work to save up money for living expenses, extracurricular activities, vacationing, college tuition, and ideally, retirement. After working many years doing what I thought was right in terms of career pathing, I decided to find work that was more right for me…for us.

That decision was difficult for me, but I was tired of being tired around you.

Even though there will always be people who show up to the office before I do and those who will stay well after I leave, I still feel guilty for not being with you for nine of your waking hours. But at least now I can explain to you why I do what I do and feel like you get it.

I don't want to miss a moment of you growing up

I don’t want to miss a moment of you growing up

No longer do you need me to tend to your every need. To constantly wipe away your tears or bandage your scraped knees. You just need me to be a role model.

There will be times when I fall short of that massive responsibility. There will be times when the table is turned and I look to you for inspiration. There will be times when your dad and I will sit back, look at each other, and have a mutual and profound pride for what we brought into this world together.

Know that we are trying to ace a test for which there is no study guide. We’re searching for treasure without the aid of a map.

We’re no experts. We simply love you. Always.

Written by Heidi Woodard

Boy have Christmas breaks changed over the years.

When I was in college, unlike some people (I’m talking to you, Ryan Woodard), taking time off from school never involved a drunkin escapade to Cabo. Rather, I’d travel with my softball team to play in a tournament someplace sunny.

I always seemed to come down with strep throat…a fate that followed me every year as the seasons changed until I had my tonsils yanked out when I turned 30.

The first year I entered the real world with a full-time corporate job post-college, it dawned on me that grownups don’t get Christmas breaks or Spring breaks or any other rejuvenation periods built into their calendar year. Grownups get Paid Time Off (PTO) based on their years of service. And, for some odd reason, there are people who bank their PTO as a badge of honor – refusing to take a single day off unless they’re on their death bed.

I’ve never understood those people.

And, by not understanding certain things I observe in others, I’ve come to better understand myself.

I’ve learned a lot throughout the past year.

1. I relate to what the author of Hands Free Mama has to say. I see my life as over-scheduled and over-committed and when I try to balance it all and fall short of my own self-imposed expectations, I implode on myself and explode on others. This kind of behavior is avoidable…with proper perspective.

2. I need motivation to stay fit. While I’ve grown in all other aspects of my professional life by working at a new company, I lost a support group of fitness friends when I left my former one. Time for me to kick my own butt back into action. I don’t like being squishy.

3. There will never be a greater source of satisfaction in my life as my kids. Roll your eyes if you want (I don’t blame you), but it’s the truth. They have this crazy way of making life seem as meaningful and memorable as it should be.

4. There will never be a greater source of frustration in my life as my kids. My middle one broke his left arm on my third day at the new job a year ago, and then broke his right arm on my birthday this year. My youngest has had “poop farts” (her own words for diarrhea) all day today as we head into the holidays. Hooray! My oldest came upstairs for a 25-minute lunch break before declaring to the world that he was descending back down to the MAN CAVE. Because he’s a (soon to be 12-year old) MAN.

5. I feel like I’m a fairly laid back woman, with the exception of how I relate to my husband – the aforementioned Ryan Woodard. I don’t care that we have the same “we always manage to have it all work out, don’t we?…” conversation every year, shopping 48 hours prior to Christmas is annoyingly irresponsible. He’ll never convince me otherwise.

6. My parents make me laugh. After succumbing to the realization they were among the last dozen or so Americans who don’t own a computer, they allowed me to pick out a laptop for them. Upon opening it, my dad said, “What’s this kind called? An Ass-us?” The brand is Asus. I did not correct him.

Grandma and Grandpa coming to terms with technology

Grandma and Grandpa coming to terms with technology

7. Whenever I’ve doubted whether the stuff I write even makes a difference to anyone but me, I’ll remember that this piece Do not for one moment believe you are all alone connected me to a life-long friend who I’d previously lost touch with for over a decade. In her words, “Reading someone’s writing can affect your day, or, if you’re lucky to read something truly inspirational at just the right time, sometimes affect your entire life for the better.”

8. I will never regret meeting someone new or hearing different perspectives.

9. I also will never regret setting goals…even perceptibly lofty ones. Because even if I only finish 80 percent of what I set out to accomplish, I’m still 80 percent better than what I once was.

10. Anchor Man 2 is worth the price of admission.

I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday. And that’s not just lip service. Have a WONDERFUL Christmas break.

Written by Heidi Woodard