Three Cheers for Sports Team Parent Bonding!

teambonding1For those of us who are parents, particularly those whose kids are involved in sports, we spend a lot of time with other parents watching our children play in their matches. Looking back over the past 10 years that is collectively quite a few parents I have sat and cheered beside!

My experience has run the gamut from being on a team that felt like an extended family, one example I will mention later, and other teams, I hate to admit, where I barely knew the coach’s wife’s name. While the coach or coaches usually set the overall tone for how connected the team families will be, I do believe as a parent, we can play a part in helping the team feel more cohesive and connected…well, like a real team.

Why make the effort you ask? Because isn’t it more pleasant to meet up with people on a regular basis who know your name and you know theirs and you feel a little connection with them? And isn’t it nice for your children when they see their parents talking and laughing together during snack time or before or after the practices or games instead of everyone on their cell phones ignoring one another? I love chatting with the moms and dads briefly to see what they are up to lately and them the same with me. I think it is a good thing after a rough day when you get to practice or a game and can forget about that stuff and just enjoy the company of a few nice parents for a while.

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This was definitely the case for me last year when I was going thru a real challenging time and I was feeling very isolated. The highlight of my week was seeing the friendly faces of the moms and coaches of a new volleyball team my younger daughter had joined. It was like a breath of fresh air and after connecting and cheering our kids on together, I always felt better afterward. This past year, we have been lucky to be on this team with dedicated coaches (Coach Mike and Coach Tim) and their lovely wives (Maria and Annette) and other equally great moms (see the group shot above) and it has been such pure joy for me and my family!

In fact, we have extended our connection off the court and have recently scheduled moms’ nights out and plan to do so even after the season has ended. On just a side note, while being with these coaches, we won three First Place titles and one Second Place title—I feel the strength of our team bonding has only helped our team –it sure can’t hurt!

Of course not all parents on a team are open to or want this kind of connection and for those who don’t want to participate, it is really their loss and they shouldn’t be looked down upon—they are just missing on the positive effects of connecting! Here are some tips to help encourage more team parent bonding in sports:

  • Put together a family team roster with both parents’ names along with their child’s name and phone numbers and distribute it early in the season.
  • For those who have the time, how about taking a photo of each family and insert a small photo alongside their information—that would really help put names to faces!
  • Reach out and ask parents to point out who their kids are and get to know them a little better
  • If your child really connects well with one or more players, how about inviting them over for some social time at your house; use the opportunity to get to know the parents at drop off and pick up time
  • Take time to plan a fun end-of-season party—the kids love it and it’s a nice bonding opportunity
  • If you find a group of parents you really like and connect with, don’t hesitate to set up something after hours. For example, we planned a moms’ happy hour while our kids did Friday night practice.

Are you part of a team that is really connected? What activities do you do to strengthen that bonding—please share!

Go Green–and we’re not talking Recycling!

Okay who loves Saint Patrick’s Day? Well, I sure do and it’s not just because some of   393

my favorite people are Irish (you know who you are). I love that it celebrates Christianity, good luck and the color GREEN. If I were a frog, Kermit would be the guy for me because green has been and always will be one of my favorite colors.

So to honor Irish-American heritage and the color green, here are three St. Patty’s Day-inspired drinks and treats for you to serve up for friends and family before the months end!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies     

This is by far one of the easiest and yummiest cookies I like to make. In fact, I just made these today for my kids and their friends, see photo below, and they are a perfect treat for St. Patty’s month (although I do also make them during the December holidays). Click here for the recipe from Betty Crocker.

DSC06068Homemade Shamrock Shakes

Blogger Christina George of dessertsfortwo.com came up with this delicious concoction to rival the one at McDonalds. I haven’t tried it yet, but plan to soon.

Blend 1 ½ cups of milk, 6-10 drops of green liquid food coloring, ½ tsp of peppermint extract, and two cups of vanilla bean ice cream slightly softened. Blend until smooth and garnish with chocolate syrup—yum!

Minty Peach Martini

Try this light and delicious cocktail recipe with your friends courtesy of Jonathan Pogash of the cocktailguru.com. He says it is like a mojito but with a peach punch. Click here for the recipe, which was featured on Shapemagazine.com.

Do you and your friends or family like to celebrate St. Patty’s Day or like to decorate your home for the month? Let us know what you do! Wishing all of you a wonderful Saint Patrick’s Day and hope you celebrate the day and/or evening with close friends and family!

Two OC cities rank among happiest towns in USA

For those who live in Orange County, CA as I do, I was happy to see that according to a survey conducted by the  Vermont Complex Systems Center at thecropped-familyeatingphoto1.jpg

University of Vermont, two nearby cities ranked in the top five happiest American destintions in the nation. But before I reveal what those cities are (don’t peek), let me tell you how they determined which cities made the list.

University researchers looked at the geo-tagged Twitter messages of people who lived in 373 urban cities—about 10 million messages to be exact. They analyzed these messages and gave scores to 80 million words in the tweets and were looking for those that pertained to levels of happiness. They focused on how often people used positive and negative words in their tweets. Words like wine, food, cheers, gift and beach were considered positive while words like boo, ugh and hate were more prominent in the unhappier locales.

Okay, did I give it away when I said wine? Yes, wine country Napa, CA ranked number one as the happiest town in America based on this research study. But coming in fourth place on the list was a tie between Mission Viejo and San Clemente—two in my own backyard! Idaho Falls ranked second and Longmont, Colorado third and fifth was Simi Valley, CA.

The researchers decided to look only at the actual words themselves and not the words in context to come up with their results. They also did not separate tourists from residents, again focusing only on the actual words used in the tweets. Since only a portion of Americans use Twitter—this is only a slice of the research pie. However, it gives a look into what cities people are in when they have the happiest tweets. What American city do you either live in or visit that makes you feel the happiest?

 

Got Friends? It’s good for Your Health!

Did you know that people who have strong social connections with a few or more people will actually live longer than those who don’t?

Yes, it’s true. According to a study published in 2010 by Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah

researchers discovered that just as exercising regularly, not smoking and getting enough sleep contribute to pelivinghappilyconnected.com livinglongerople living longer and healthier lives,  so does having positive social bonds with a group of friends —regardless of how many. Those with positive family bonds counted just as those with friends–it is the interactions that count not necessarily where they come from.

They found that those with a few or more social ­­connections are 50 percent more likely to live longer than those who had similar backgrounds but lived alone and rarely socialized with others. I found it interesting that they compared having little to no social bonds to be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, drinking too much or being obese.

According to author Julianne Holt-Lunstad, associate professor of psychology at BYU,

she believes that this research shows that people should take having good social relationships as seriously as being healthy in other areas of their lives. Their conclusions came from reviewing more than 148 published studies that measured how often humans interacted with one another and the impact it made on their lives.

This study unfortunately came out before the social media craze hit like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so it didn’t speak to the actual qualitative nature of relationships on people’s health. I will be doing more blog posts on that research as I find it. However for me, I like the idea of having both social media connections and the old fashioned ones of meeting up face-to-face, whenever possible, or at least connecting by phone. See my related post on bringing back the art of real conversation.

Part of the reason having social connections affects people’s health, says BYU researchers, is partly because having others in your life who know how you are doing in general helps us when we might veer down an unhealthy path. The right friends will help you get back to where you were and want you to be happy and healthy. So that makes sense to choose your friends wisely don’t you think?

Do you think your close relationships help you to be happier and healthier in any way? If so—how do they? Let me know your thoughts!

Ideas for Saint Valentine’s “Day” Month

Anyone who knows me well knows I absolutely love to plan parties, celebrations and to have fun with holidays. I am so happy to be able to share that passion with you through my new blog.

I am a huge fan of Valentine’s Day and month so the moment the calendar says we are farenough from the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays and close enough to February, I start putting up my pink and red twinkle lights, a festive heart door wreath and some Valentine-theme photo frames around the home (ones I received through the years).

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