Raising a Mets Fan

Use Zoom To Help Your Children See Their Friends

Seemingly, every school district in the United States has closed schools leaving parents to home-school their children. Looking beyond that, they are under the same self isolation and quarantine orders as their parents are. That leaves parents and children home and away from the outside world.

This is hard on everyone, especially our children. They are unable to see their friends. Their activities, like Little League, are being postponed or canceled. This leaves us as parents looking for ways to engage them and to make them feel normal.

Certainly, FaceTime helps, but that only works if the other parents have an iPhone as well. It is also somewhat restrictive in that it limits it to one-on-one interaction. It would also be beneficial if you could get a group of friends together in a fashion similar to what they normally do.

On that note, many have been utilizing Zoom to have office meetings and the like. Seeing how effective it has been for work, we should also be looking to use it for our children to allow them to see and speak with their friends.

Get together with the other parents and schedule a time where you can all have your children speak to one another using Zoom. You can do it as one-on-one or much larger groups. It also helps carve out the time to make sure everyone does it.

Think of this like Little League practice. For example, let’s say you were going to have Little League practices on Wednesday at 6:00 P.M. Now, instead, you can make that Zoom time. How long you want to do it for is up to you and the other parents.

It doesn’t matter if  you have hours to spend or if you just have 5-10 minutes. Every little bit helps your children see their friends and help them feel normal at least for that small time frame. You know you have that time somewhere in your schedule over the course of a week. Find it and coordinate with other parents to do it and help you and your children through this process.

COVID19 Home School Plans: Mo Willems Lunch Doodles

Mo Willems is the acclaimed author of the Pidgeon and Pig & Elephant series in addition to a number of children’s books like Knuffle Bunny. In his books, he has a way of reaching out to children, teaching them, and entertaining them.

Right now, at the moment we all need him most, he is helping out patents and children alike.

While are children are home with schools closed down due to COVID19, Willems is hosting a 22 minute “Lunch Doodles.”

In the Lunch Doodles, Willems shares his creative process while encouraging it in children. There were drawings at the beginning and the end, and he takes time to answer questions.

He even encourages kids to send questions and share their drawings with him. Overall, it’s inspiring a creative and learning environment, and he’s doing it just as the time we need it.

They’re available at 1:00 P.M. EST, and they will remain on YouTube to accessed later if needed. The first episode is embedded above, and if you return here, subsequent episodes will be linked to this article.

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

https://youtube.com/watch?v=N90fLxaBCGE

Other Ideas

Write a Journal

Mystery Science

Field Trip

COVID19 Homeschool And Work From Home Schedule

Like many parents across America, we have been faced with the prospect of having to work from home while also homeschooling our children. If you are like my school district, there are strict log-in times to count your child’s attendance. If that is the case, you are stuck teaching your children during work hours instead of being able to be truly flexible.

To put things into perspective, my children’s home school district sent the following requirements that our child be logged into Google Classroom anytime 7:00 – 10:00 A.M. to count attendance. From there, the school day is assigned as 9:00 – 2:00 with teachers getting an hour break from 12:00 – 1:00.

During that time, we are supposed to do assignments with our children while also finding a half hour during the day for physical activity. While that may not seem daunting, in our household, we have to do that while finding time for both parents to work while also keeping watch over our two year old. With that in mind, we have developed a schedule which we hope helps other people:

6:30 – 8:30: Parent A works from laptop while Parent B get kids dressed and has breakfast with them.

8:30 – 9:00: Clean-up of breakfast, set-up for homeschool log-in, and switch of parents for work.

9:00 – 12:00: Parent A is out of pocket monitoring emails and calls working with the homeschooling. Parent B is on the laptop working.

12:00 – 1:00: Lunch time for family. Both parents are out of pocket monitoring emails and phone calls.

1:00 – 2:00: Parent A goes back to laptop while Parent B is out of p0cket finishing up the school day.

2:00 – 4:00: Both parents working from home simultaneously while children are doing activities like coloring, reading books, playing outside, or watching T.V.

4:00 – 4:30: Regroup. Discuss who still needs to do what, have a light snack for kids, and figure out any contingencies for the rest of the day.

4:30 – 5:30: Parent A sits with kids and begins preparing dinner while Parent B is on the laptop

5:30 – 6:30: Dinner

6:30 – 7:30: Every device off for family time. Part of time spent is a family walk, play a game, etc.

7:30 – 8:30: Bedtime process, i.e. baths, reading books, and tucking the kids into bed

8:30 – 10:30: Both parents on the laptops doing work finishing up whatever they need to do for the day.

Parent A: worked 7 hours
Parent B: worked 8 hours

From 10:30 on, you can find time to spend with your significant others, and catch up on whatever you need to catch up on from the day.

Please keep in mind, this is a framework of a schedule for two parents working at home with kids who need to be homeschooled. As a family you may need to adapt to your jobs demands as well as any challenges which may come our way while we are all home due to COVID19.

As time progresses, this may be amended to reflect any changes we need to make. If there is anything you are doing which is different than this, and you find it helpful, please share in the comments section. Overall, remember that even though we are all socially isolated, we are still all in this together, and we can all work together to try to figure it out.

Parents Guide To Combating Coronavirus

I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. Like most of you, I am just a person who has no idea if the coronavirus is a pandemic of biblical proportions, or if this is just a seasonal virus which will pass much like the avian and swine flu once did.

No, I am just a father concerned about my children and parents getting it. Like with the flu, the risk is greater for them. This means while I will presumably be alright, if I contract it, I can spread it to others. For me, that’s the real risk.

Now, there is no way to cut ourselves off from society. I need to go to work, and my children need to go to school. Honestly, even with the risk of disease, there are things we just have to do as a family. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take preventative measures. The CDC has already outlined them:

  • Advoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

The general rule I’m using for my family is everywhere you go the first thing you do is wash your hands. I also keep baby wipes on hand to wipe down hands and faces. That is necessary when you are opening doors and touching things others who might be infected could’ve touched.

Keep in mind while you may need to live your life, you can make smarter choices. For example, you can go to the grocery store either early in the morning or very late in the day, i.e. at times when there aren’t many people. Also, you can order things on Amazon and have them delivered. On that note, Amazon does have many things cheaper than you can get them in stores.

The other thing we’ve done is stop eating out. You don’t and can’t know if the people handling your food have been infected. While that is a general rule of thumb, there is no vaccine for the coronavirus like there is for the flu.

Beyond that, we haven’t found much more we can do. Our children are already taking their vitamins, drinking their milk, and they had already been taking elderberry. Basically, they are doing all the things we can do to keep them happy and healthy.

At the moment, we are doing our normal activities with the children albeit on a more limited basis. For example, we are not doing story times at the library or Barnes & Noble. Instead, we read at home. We also aren’t going to the movies, nor are we going to attend any sporting events. Sadly, right now, that means no Opening Day or NCAA Tournament.

Mostly, we pray. We pray for health and guidance. Of course, right now, we pray while avoiding Church, which I hope is understandable even in this Lenten season.

When and if there are cases near us, we will reassess what we do. For right now, we are living our lives, but we are being smart about it. From our perspective, that seems to be what makes the most sense. If we had an infant, it’s very likely we would be even more restrictive in what we do. The same if our parents lived with us.

Overall, the best piece of advice to give anyone is to listen to the CDC, your doctors, and other medical professionals. Seriously, while I hope this was all helpful, you should disregard much of this advice because ultimately it’s uneducated advice.

In the end, the biggest takeaway is follow what the CDC and other medical professionals tell you and to stop seeking advice from people like me. In the end, all I can do is tell you what I am or am not doing. Like others, I cannot guarantee my advice is effective. Rather, it is just what we are doing. Hopefully, you find something which helps you and your family stay safe and healthy.

Coronavirus Presents Opportunity For MLB To Grow The Game

With the fears over the outbreak of the coronavirus, Major League Baseball is starting to take preventative measures. Different teams have prevented their players from signing autographs for fans. When it comes to the spread of disease and the health of their players, you understand why teams are doing this.

For Spring Training, this is troublesome. This is a time where fans get more access to the players than at any point during the year. That is all the more the case with expanded netting around ballparks. With the reduced access to players, fans get less time to interact and to get autographs.

Some teams are sensitive to that, and as a result, they are having their players sign some items, and those items are going to be distributed to fans. This is something teams should think about doing year-round.

For young fans, batting practice presents an opportunity to get autographs. Unfortunately, not every player takes batting practice, and some of the better players have team obligations pre-game which stands in the way of their ability to sign and take pictures with fans before games.

As a result, some young fans aren’t going to get autographs or get to see the players they want to see. To a certain extent, that’s life. Kids are just going to have to suck it up and grow from it. However, that doesn’t mean teams shouldn’t now be thinking outside the box and using this idea to grow the game.

Take the Mets for an example.

Every Sunday, the New York Mets have Family Sundays. On Family Sundays, there are some fun activities outside the ballpark for young fans. After the game, those young fans have the opportunity to run the bases. Perhaps, the Mets could also give away some player signed items to young fans at games.

Maybe it is a box of pre-signed baseballs given to young fans as they enter the game. It could just be random giving kids a chance to grab a Pete Alonso or Paul Sewald. Perhaps, they could do themed days.

One week could be rotation week with a ball signed by Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, and Rick Porcello. Another week could be the outfield with autographs from Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and whoever else lands in the outfield. With the 20th anniversary of the 2000 pennant, there could be a ball signed by players from that team including Edgardo Alfonzo, Mike Hampton, Al Leiter, and Mike Piazza.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be balls either. It could be baseball cards, or it could be other items teams have in stock and are just trying to move. In fact, you usually see that at the end of the year with the team having a wheel for fans to spin to win a “prize” which was really nothing more than a promotion they never could give away.

In the end, Major League Baseball is adapting to the threat of the coronavirus, and they are trying to make the game experience safer for their players and fans. They could take what they learned from this, and they can carry the policy through the season. If done well, they could make the game experience more fun for kids and help grow the game.

If You Give A Met a Cookie

If you give a Met a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of 2% milk,
When you give him the milk, he is getting ready to hit like Straw,
When the Met is done eating his cookie,
He’ll want another and another and another.

He will go outside to get an Insomnia Cookie.
When he is outside he will see the Home Run Apple,
Seeing the apple will make him want to crush baseballs.

The pitcher will have to pitch a ball,
The outfielders ready with their gloves.
To the pitcher, he’ll look strong like a Polar Bear with his bat.

The pitcher will throw a pitch,
He’ll hit a HOME RUN!

He’ll do a bat flip and dance like a Squirrel to celebrate.

When he starts to dance, the press will want to take his picture.
When he sees his smiling face, he’ll want to text the picture to all of his friends.

When they get the text, they’ll want to know the story.
So he’ll tell them the story of how he scooted around the bases.
He’ll get so excited telling the story, he’ll want to talk to his teammates.

When talking, they’ll talk about how to play the game the Wright way.
They’ll talk about scouting reports, camaraderie, and giving the extra 2% on the field.
Talking about the extra 2% will remind them they’re thirsty.
So, they’ll get a glass of milk.

And chances are . . .
If they gets themselves a glass of milk, they’re going to want a cookie to go with it.

Adapted from Laura Numeroff books, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” “If You Give a Dog a Donut” “If You Give a Pig a Pancake

Real Sports Highlights Parents Youth Sports Dilemma

When Derek Jeter was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, he went to the set of MLB Network to talk about his career. During that time, he advocated for playing multiple sports as a kid. Sadly, the world is seemingly moving away from that.

Increasingly, parents are seeking to have their children specialize in just one sport. Worse yet, parents are doing it with children at younger and younger ages.

While this seems unhealthy (it is), it’s actually worse than imagined. On a recent episode of Real Sports, they highlighted how this has led to what doctors are referring to an epidemic of sports injuries among children.

Seeing young prepubescent children undergo the knife is shocking. What’s all the more troubling is hearing different statements from the children and their parents.

You heard the soccer players talk about how if they took some time off, time their bodies needed to recover, they fell behind. This meant the loss of an opportunity to fulfill dreams of playing collegiate soccer. For some, that could mean the loss of a much needed athletic scholarship.

Others spoke about how even though they’ll need knee surgeries and have early onset arthritis, they still love the sport and want to keep pushing themselves past their braking point.

It’s very easy to say these parents have lost all perspective and criticize them. Obviously, what they’re doing is crazy, and in the Real Sports segment, they actually admit it. Chances are, they got to this point very innocently.

Parents talk about the joy their children feel playing the sports while also clearly pained by what’s happening. In their faces, you see an inner dilemma and turmoil, and to date, they don’t have a solution.

Seeing what I see now from an athletic six year old, I’m surmising this is something which innocently happens at the outset.

At a young age, my son has been recruited to play for travel hockey and soccer teams. Yes, you read that correctly. A six year old is being recruited.

With those recruitments, we’ve heard pitches of an inside track to this high school or being able to work with that coach. As noted in the Real Sports article, youth sports is a big business now, and coaches want the best players to rack up wins and notoriety.

Going back to the kids for a moment, you see a difference between a child liking a sport and a child LOVING a sport.

What do you do when your child actually wants to play the same sport constantly? What do you do when your child strives to improve? What do you do when your child’s best friends are on those teams?

When viewed through that prism you begin to see this less as parents being monsters who abdicate their perspective, and you begin to see parents as people who were just trying to do their best and lost their perspective.

These youth leagues shoulder much of the blame. They’re the supposed experts who are supposed to direct you onto the right path. Lost in that is their existence is fueled by you doing more and more and not necessarily by doing what’s right by the children.

So what do you, as parents do?

First and foremost, don’t sign up your child for a team unless you trust the coaches. If those teams are worth their salt, they’ll speak with you beforehand. Personally, I knew we found the right team when the coach preached playing multiple sports and taking a break.

You see parents are not immediately aware of burnout and fatigue. Aside from the risks shown by Real Sports, at some point, a child will get sick of playing the same thing all the time.

Another factor with playing other sports is they’re fun. It may not be as fun as the main sport, but it’s still fun. In those sports, your child not only works on other skills which will help them in other sports (for example, baseball is great for hand/eye coordination), but for parents, you get perspective.

You’ll see what other parents say about those sports. You also get out of the bubble. Your child gets to branch out, discover something new, and have fun.

It also doesn’t have to be a sport. It can be music lessons, or just sitting home and playing with Legos. Really, just something different. It’s helps your child, and it helps you better parent your child.

In the end, this is about your child’s health and enjoyment of life. When these sports start becoming professionalized at a young age, the fun is being drained from them, and with it comes increased injury. The sports won’t change, but the parenting can.

Overall, as parents, just remember you want happy and healthy children, and in the end, you’re really the only one with your child’s best interests in mind. Seek out advice from an array of sources, do your research, and in the end, trust your instincts.

All Time Is Quality Time

In his Medium article, Ryan Holiday writes about how the eternal search for quality time leads to disappointment. In reality, it’s that search which not only builds up these moments to live up to impossible lofty expectations, but it also has you missing the everyday magic.

It is an article well worth the time. In it, he discusses Jerry Seinfeld’s love of the mundane and how Holiday has loved his time just waiting.

Reading it brought me back to different moments. There are those times I’m driving in my car, and my son innocently begins a conversation by saying, “Daddy?” in that one tone where I know he has something important he wants to say.

It’s those moments my youngest just randomly starts singing a song and gets all excited when you start singing with him.

Honestly, Holiday is right. With your family, the best things happen everyday, and the moments don’t need to be manufactured. They’re already there, and they’re coming when you least expect it.

For example, yesterday, I was making macaroni and cheese for lunch. Next thing I know, my oldest wants to help. So while the pasta is boiling, I have him measuring out the milk and butter.

As is usually the case, when my oldest is doing something, the youngest needs to do it too. Suddenly, after I drain the pasta, the two of them, not me, are stirring the ingredients together.

This was a completely organic moment which happened for no other reason than the family was spending time together. To me, this was Holiday’s point. From the seemingly mundane came the real magic.

Happy Birthday

Six years ago, I was up for literally awake for 21 hours straight, and I was scared out of my mind as I rushed to the NICU. In short order, I went from the most scared I’ve ever been to the happiest I’ve ever been.

In those moments, I never knew you’d throw out a first pitch at a baseball game. You’d be playing in a hockey tournament, or that you’d have the highest test scores of anyone in town.

To my buddy, the smartest, most handsome, warmest, nicest,and special person I know, Happy Birthday!

Youth Coaching Strategy: Separate Children Based On Ability

Since my son was old enough to play recreational sports, I have either coached or helped coach some of his teams. Those sports have included soccer, t-ball, and flag football. Due to a number of circumstances, including soccer being year round in my town, I have had the most experience coaching soccer.

There are many challenges to coaching youth sports, but personally, I have found the biggest challenge to be just how to handle children of vary skills and interest. That applies not just to games but also to practice.

When it comes to my town, there were services available where they had some coaches from organizations attend your practice to show useful coaching strategies. I had adapted some of those drills while ignoring those I felt were not useful. Overall, I had initially followed the strategy of one game plan for everyone.

I’ve come to realize that doesn’t work.

Like many coaches, I had tried to balance the lineups to ensure as good a game as possible. There was one game where I realized this was a big mistake. My son had stolen a ball, and he went up field to score what was his 12th goal of the game.

12th.

By around his fourth goal, I had called him over to say to him he needs to be passing the ball more and incorporating his teammates. The problem was there were really no teammates for him to pass the ball.

While he was charging up the field with the ball, there was one kid who decided on his own he needed a break, so he walked off the field to sit down. Two of his other teammates were engaged in an epic leaf throwing fight. Finally, the last teammate was honestly just afraid of the ball.

This isn’t good for anyone. The kid afraid of the ball doesn’t have to engage because he knows there is going to be another player to take care of it. The kids having the leaf fight don’t need to pay attention because there is a savior. While that is happening, my son is basically playing by himself learning little to nothing about teamwork.

After that game, I developed A and B squads for the team. Essentially, I’ve split up players based on ability.

Admittedly, this was at first a disaster. In the first game, the “A” squad ran up the score on the opponent, while the “B” squad completely squandered away the lead and then some. This led to frustrated parents for both teams. That’s the worst possible scenario.

To mitigate against that, I have taken the time to reach out to the coach my team is going to face prior to the scheduled game. I inform him or her of the strategy I will be implementing. While some do not at all agree, they eventually acquiesce because they want to see a good game and not a completely one-sided affair.

That’s what happens. A good game. In fact, it is a much better game.

With the better players on the field, there is a higher level of play. At the Kindergarten level, I’ve since seen more team oriented play both in terms of defense and offense. There is passing, and partially because these kids play with each other more, there is actually communication on the field.

As for the B squad, something exciting began to happen. With them only playing against players with a similar skill set, they have had more of an opportunity to play competitively. With that, the leaf fights have drastically reduced, and the players who walked off the field out of boredom are now more engaged. They actually have a chance to touch the ball. In fact, players who would not have previously touched a ball would actually score a goal.

That has brought about a greater sense of both interest and pride in these children. With that has come some real improvement.

The splitting up of these players is something I have carried into practice. Now, the key there is to not necessarily let the children know they are being split up based upon ability.

For example, during passing drills, children of similar abilities are paired together. During those drills, the very basics are instilled on the players with a lower skill set. With the players who are better, I have them focus on using their not dominant foot. As a result, while everyone is doing everything as a team, they are still getting the more focused attention to help them improve as soccer players.

This can be carried out in all aspects of the practice.

Instead of scrimmages, smaller team games are preferable. Have 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 games. You can also have scrimmages happening simultaneously. Split your A squad in half and have them play against one another while having your B squad playing against each other.

In the end, it is important to remember part of coaching is helping everyone on your team improve. For your best players, dominating bad players isn’t helping them at all. For your worst players, never getting to touch the ball not only doesn’t help them, but it also serves to help them lose interest in the sport.

In the end, this is not a cure-all, and it is not perfect. Some children are never going to have interest in a particular sport, and there are some who have attention issues. You’re not going to resolve that over a two month season. There are also going to be times where you only have so many players show up to a game thereby blowing up your plan completely.

However, what this will do is permit you to foster an environment where everyone can improve on their game while also giving everyone an opportunity to play in a competitive game where they have a chance to make a real impact on a game. This will leave them feeling good about themselves and wanting to play more, which at the end of the day, is the primary objective for anyone coaching children.