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4 Tips for Keeping it “Cool” in the Bleachers at Youth Sporting Events

4 Tips for Keeping It Cool in the Bleachers at Youth Sporting Events


Up to bat….



We’re well into the baseball and softball season, but the year is filled with seasonal youth sports: soccer, basketball, volleyball, roller hockey, ice hockey, football, Lacrosse, tennis, golf…and so many more!


We’ve all heard the horror stories about parents being verbally and sometimes physically abusive at youth football or baseball games.


What is it about sporting events, more than other organized youth performances or competitions that brings out the worst from the adults sitting in the bleachers? You won’t hear someone shout sarcastically, “What do you call that?” during a musical or dance recital.


I don’t have any answers for “why,” only four heartfelt requests for parents and friends in the bleachers:


1.  Please, please remember these are kids…they are not a professional team!  Keep your comments positive, even comments about the opposing team players!


Making a great effort!


2.  Think before you make comments about the umpire. Respect the decision made by the umpire. Most often they are volunteers, doing the best job they can. Be a good example for your child.


Respect the Umpire


3.  Let the coach be the coach. Don’t instruct your child from the stands or point out his/her mistakes. 


Let the coach be the coach


4.  Praise a good effort, despite the score.


A good effort…



Learning to play fair, developing new skills, perfecting talents, and doing their best are only a few advantages for youngsters participating in team sports.  One of the most important lessons is practicing facing “big feelings” and overcoming fears.


As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…we must do that which we think we cannot.”


Here’s to strength and courage and confidence for all our children!




Help for Parents Grieving the Loss of a Child…

I am the mother of a first grader who bounded down the steps of the school bus on the first day of December and within minutes was killed in a hit and run. The murderers were never found.


This was over thirty years ago…but NOT a day goes by that my heart and arms don’t ache to hold him once again.


Listening to reports of the recent school shooting tragedy in Sandy Hook, Connecticut my heart feels as if it’s being shoved through a paper shredder over and over. I go about the day misty eyed…


…knowing and feeling the gut wrenching, inexplicable physical pain of losing a child.


…knowing the journey of grief is long, grueling and never really over.


…knowing grief is a very personal journey…there is no right or wrong way to ride this rollercoaster…(unless a coping mechanism becomes unhealthy and inflicts suffering on another).


…knowing emotions are unpredictable…the anger, the despair, the fear, the tears for hours on end.


And, yet, “my heart in its sorrow rejoices,” recalling the kindnesses, the gentleness and the support of so many…family, friends and strangers reaching out with their reassurance of love and understanding.


The world is full of caring, loving people who want very much to help but are often unsure about the best way to show their concern.


I remember a few precepts that were and still are especially meaningful and offer them as a guide to those reaching out to grieving parents:


1. Please don’t ignore my painful loss. Saying nothing hurts worse than saying the “wrong thing” with sincerity.  Some helpful phrases: “I’m sorry.”  “I don’t know what to say, but I really care.”


2. Let me talk about my beloved, if I want to. Let me talk about how he died.  Don’t be afraid to say his name. Share a memory if you want to.


3. Sit with me in silence. Sometimes words are absolutely useless. Squeeze my hand, hold my hand, pat my shoulder…give me a hug…cry with me. Look me in the eye…please don’t be afraid of my sorrow, of my tears.


4. Please don’t tell me you know how I feel! No, you don’t! We can never know how another feels…but ask me how I feel. And don’t tell me it’s part of God’s plan or that he’s in a better place.


5. Certain times of the year will always be hard for me….like all holidays! Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. And most every family milestone tugs at my heart…births, children’s birthday parties, graduations, and weddings.



It’s true…. love never dies…memories of my child are alive and well in my mind and the hole in my heart will only be completely mended the day I am reunited with my beloved child.


But I have been encouraged and sustained by your friendship, your care, your support and help. May you be blessed!














Wonderful song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqwomT5YSiw





10 By 10

Ten Social Graces Every Child Needs To Know By Age Ten


Teaching…. and reinforcing…. again and again…. a few polite behaviors not only ensures your children will be desired company for their friends, but gives them great confidence in meeting new social situations with confidence.


The 10 by 10 list is very basic and easy to remember…only ten behaviors to keep up with in your busy life. You’ll add other manners as they grow, but if these ten are practiced and embedded life will be sweeter!



1. Please: Use please when asking for something, or asking someone to pass an item at the dinner table.



2. Thank You: Use thank you when receiving something…a gift, an invitation or a compliment. Be sure to thank your friend and your friend’s parents when you leave a party or after a sleep-over.


3. Excuse Me: When you bump into, or step on someone’s foot, when you walk between two people having a conversation or when you have to interrupt adults who are talking.

4. Ask Permission: To do something, or to use someone else’s property.

5. Hello and Nice to meet you: When introduced to someone say hello and respond if they ask how you are. It’s always polite to ask how they are also.



6. Ask if you can help: Practice asking if you can help at home; set the table, take out the trash or help carry in groceries. When you are visiting a friend, it’s always nice to lend a helping hand.



7. Eat and chew properly: Use your fork, knife and spoon correctly. Put your napkin in your lap. Elbows off the table. Chew with your mouth closed and don’t try to talk while you have food in your mouth.



8. Watch your words: Be kind. Don’t make fun of or tease others and don’t make comments about how a person looks. If you have a question, ask your parent privately. Compliment others.

9. Knock on closed doors: If a door is closed, knock first and wait to be invited in. Don’t open the door and walk in.



10. Give your seat to an older adult: If there are no seats left and you are on a couch or chair or on the bus or at a party and an older adult comes into the room, offer your chair to the adult. You might also go find a chair and bring it for the older adult.


Click on the link, download and print the *10 By 10 * list as a reminder!

10 By 10 Social Graces







It’s Friday…time for some fun!! You don’t need a “stiff upper lip” to drink tea….

Take 1

Take 1

Steven Colbert gets a lesson in drinking tea….click on the link below….





Drinking Tea

I’m dreaming of a…………..House Guest with Manners!


An invitation to stay with someone is a great honor. Your host wants you to be happy, to be comfortable and to feel welcome. If you’ll be a house-guest during the holidays here are eight easy tips to ensure you’re host will be dreaming you’ll be back again next year!



1. Arrive with a gift. Know your host. Don’t bring wine, if they don’t drink. Purchase something neutral like a tin of gourmet flavored popcorn, a holiday-scented candle or if you know they’re avid golfers, a box of top-notch golf balls. If you’re staying more than two nights, plan to treat them to a nice dinner at their favorite restaurant.




2. Lend a hand. Help in the kitchen. Volunteer to walk the dog. (Don’t forget the “doggie doo-doo baggies”….don’t want to make enemies in the neighborhood!)

Wash any dishes you’ve used or put them in the dishwasher. Keep common areas (like the bathroom) neat and tidy.


3. Be considerate of their work schedule. It may not be their vacation time. Although they are happy to have you stay, remember not to keep them up too late, and don’t expect them to take time off to be your tour guide or babysitter.



4. Ask about house rules: “Do you put your knifes in the dishwasher?” And don’t just show up with your pet. Ask first! That even includes checking with family members if it’s convenient to bring an animal to their home. Sometimes it’s just not a good time to have Rover at a family gathering.




5. If you’re on a special diet, bring the groceries you need. It’s always good manners to supply a few snacks or something special you’ve baked. (You know you’re from the South if you stop at a fruit stand and buy a “lug” of peaches or tomatoes to divvy up!) If you have a preference for soaps and toiletries, pack them.



















6. If you have babies or children…..please don’t take a “vacation” from parenting. Get up with them in the mornings! Entertain them and keep them as quiet as possible until everyone else in the house wakes up. Don’t expect the “older” children or your host to “babysit” them. Grandparents might be an exception, but ask, be sure to clarify expectations. Keep an eye on your children and help them understand the “house rules.”


7. When departing, straighten the bedroom and bathroom. Ask if your host would like you to strip the bed. If so, leave the sheets in a pile or take them to the laundry room. Any towels or washcloths you used should be included in the pile or in the laundry room.


8. Send a handwritten thank you note once you are home. People often underestimate what a host goes through to have guests for a few days or longer. It takes a lot of time, money and energy, even if it is a joyous experience! Express your gratitude with a note!


May your Christmas and New Year be full of joy!



H.O.S.P.I.T.A.L. Etiquette

Last week my father had to be hospitalized. His condition required more than an overnight stay. I am thankful for hospitals and the staff who work tirelessly providing quality care.
Yet, hospitals aren’t usually happy places. Of course, it’s a different story if the visit is to welcome a new baby. But most of us will eventually find ourselves traipsing through those sterile corridors to visit a family member or a friend coping with stressful circumstances. And while our focus will be on the well being of our loved one, practicing a few common courtesies can ensure the experience is a bit less upsetting.
H-—Honor the visiting hours designated by the hospital. Call to make sure the patient is up to having visitors and don’t be offended if the answer is no. Try again the next day. And honor the hospital staff. They are providing care for patients facing trauma, pain, and distress. Whether making a bed, emptying the trash or taking a pulse, a simple smile and a thank you are very much appreciated.
O-–Offer to help the patient. Sometimes a patient may need a pet fed or plants watered. Or offer to drive the patient’s spouse, especially if they are elderly. My brother drove my mother to visit our father, and it was so helpful. She could be dropped off at the hospital entrance and didn’t have to walk, in the heat, through the vast parking lot.
S—Short visits. Keep your social call brief. Watch the patient for signs of fatigue…be sensitive about leaving, even if the person asks you to stay. Promise to come the next day. Also, be careful about wearing perfume when you visit. A strong scent can be nauseating to the patient.
P-–Pleasant, be cheerful. Keep the conversation pleasant and upbeat. Don’t tell horror stories about Uncle Wilbur who had the same thing and ended up with a staph infection from his hospital stay. Don’t make comments about terrible hospital food. Negative talk is hard for a patient already dealing with the anxiety of being hospitalized. Light and uplifting conversation makes you a welcome visitor.
I-—If you must use your cell phone….leave the patient’s room, and do not stand around in the hallway making phone calls. Most hospitals have rules posted about cell phone use. Be respectful of other patients and staff regarding cell phones.
T—-Touch the patient only if it’s okay. Find out first. Be careful about physical contact. Holding a hand is almost always comforting. Also, don’t sit on the patient’s bed or ask the staff to bring you a chair. Stand if there is not a vacant seat, after all, you’re only there for a short visit.
A-—Ask a family member or the nursing staff before taking a gift. Some patients may have allergies to plants or flowers. Latex balloons fall into the same category. Food is usually not a good idea, especially if the patient is on a restricted diet. Alternative gifts might include magazines, books or a gift card to a favorite coffee shop.
L—-Leave the room when a nurse or doctor comes in. Respect the patient’s privacy. However, if the patient is a relative, it might be helpful to have a designated family member also “hear” what is being said. Often a patient is under duress and can’t process information or recall what was discussed. I remember a very traumatic hospital visit. The doctor kindly spoke to our entire family group. It was so helpful; we could compare notes, remind one another about forgotten details, and be encouraged.
Hopefully, remembering these few common courtesies will make an unpleasant situation bearable.
May all your days be tea-lightful,

Alfresco Etiquette Refresher


Alfresco Etiquette Refresher

Have you been invited to a pool party or barbecue? Going on a picnic? Heading for the lake as a guest on a boat? Grab that tote, throw in the sunscreen, mosquito repellent, hand sanitizer/ wipe-ups, towels, and you’re ready to roll.

Wait…wait…wait…don’t forget your manners. Just because you’ll be alfresco doesn’t mean you need to be etiquette-less.

A few reminders:

Ask what you can bring. The host of a picnic or barbecue might have a specific theme or menu in mind. If you’re hosting, be sure to have suggestions ready. A dear friend of ours said, “Please just tell me what to bring. I’m willing to make anything, if someone will give me an idea. I hate having to think up something.”

Of course, it helps to know your peeps…some like to surprise everyone with the latest gourmet dip. (See the fresh corn salsa my daughter made for our last pool party.)

Bring your food ready to serve…unless it’s absolutely necessary to prepare it right before serving. Don’t impose on your hostess the need for space and tools. Some kitchens are small and it’s hard to move around or find implements with the “hang out” and visit crowd hovering about. (Think kitchen galley on a boat) It’s also nice to bring the serving utensils necessary for your particular dish…a big spoon or salad tongs. Others might have forgotten and the hostess may not have enough extras for everyone.

Hint: Label your utensils and dishes in case you forget them when you leave. Your host can easily identify the owner. I once discovered a casserole dish…two years later…that I had left at a 4-H potluck. If I’d labeled it, someone could have contacted me.

Be generous; bring enough for your family and more… to share. A family of five arriving with a solitary bag of chips looks suspiciously like “mooching.”

If you have special dietary needs, bring what you need, don’t expect others to know. And make enough for others to sample. My mother, in her octogenarian years, has become a vegetarian. Fortunately, she isn’t finicky and there’s an abundance of whatever she’s cooked up.

Ask if you can come a little early to help set up or offer to stay and help clean up. Extra hands make the workload lighter. I especially love hosting an event when I know my grown children will be there. They read my mind and are experts at sensing what needs to be done. Could be because we spent so many years working together on the ranch…you have to anticipate what comes next…not a lot of time for explanations and verbal communication when there’s a herd of cows needing immediate attention.

Be mindful of how much you pile on your plate…there is someone in line behind you . You can always go back for seconds.

And for goodness sake…NO double dipping! Put that dip on your plate and scoop from there. Help your children learn to practice the NO double dipping rule.

For water events…Bring your own towels. Your host probably has a few extras, but maybe not enough for everyone.

If the event isn’t at home or in a designated picnic area, please bring trash bags…and clean up your area.

Of course, in public settings or at a friend’s home…please…

1. Limit your alcohol consumption.

2. Keep from imposing your music on neighboring outdoor enthusiasts.

3. Refrain from using foul language.

4. Be sure to thank your host before leaving. A handwritten thank you note after the event is much appreciated.

Here is the link to the recipe for The Pioneer Woman’s Fresh Corn Salsa I mentioned above…this is easy to adapt according to your taste.

Getting the corn ready is a family affair at our ranch…..



Happy outdoor living!


And if your mind isn’t reeling with the Do’s and Do Nots……

Check out this video clip for some hints I didn’t mention:

Minding your manners: Outdoor etiquette: MyFoxBOSTON.com

Rude Behavior: Is it an Epidemic

Rude Behavior: Is there an Epidemic?


If… the authorities on social graces, Emily Post and Miss Manners (Judith Martin) define manners and etiquette as:
… “a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use.”
…”etiquette is a little social contract we make that we will restrain some of our more provocative impulses in return for living more or less harmoniously in a community.”
Then I wonder… if we are in the midst of an epidemic of rude behavior? Is there an increase in appalling behavior? Is it more prevalent in certain areas, like big cities, where accountability is improbable? How widespread is this affliction?
Are we, as a society, poised on the precipice awaiting an imminent descent into a boorish abyss? Or have we have already plummeted over the edge, headfirst, into the mire of a Rude Behavior Crater?
Reflecting on some of my experiences and those of close friends, coupled with evidence posted on blogs and in articles, it appears common courtesy is in rapid decline and perhaps, even out of style. Maybe those of us who would love to eradicate this manners deficit epidemic should create a “Social Graces Secret Society” and continue to practice the “rituals” of gracious living. Would we have a chance of overcoming inconsiderate behavior?
Classic examples I have encountered, sometimes on a daily basis:
  • On the road: The guy/gal who isn’t satisfied to go the speed limit and tries to hurry you along by tailgating. Someone zipping in and out of lanes without signaling, charging ahead like they’re trying to out run a raging fire. And the ongoing battle of who “owns the road” between cyclist and motorist. I notice this most in cities like Portland.
  • In parking lots: Why do people leave shopping carts in parking spaces? After all, the store spent extra money building special stalls for those little buggies. And why do big trucks and “fancy” cars think it is their right to take up two spaces for parking? Meandering down the middle of the parking lot, pushing your cart and chatting with your friend or on your phone, unconcerned that I am following you, desperately trying to find a parking space before noon, makes me want to say something unkind to you!
  • In restaurants: How do you handle sloppy, disinterested service? I understand someone having a bad day, or if the place is slammed, but when you have to ask three times for a water refill, that’s carelessness. Sarcastic complaining customers and ill-mannered children with underachieving parents can ruin a dining experience.
  • On cell phones: The lack of cell phone etiquette is one of my personal pet peeves. I am annoyed by loud inane conversations shared with everyone in restaurants, retail and grocery stores, lines at the bank or post office, movie theatres and coffee shops. I don’t care if your boyfriend/girlfriend is being a jerk, how drunk you got at last Friday’s party or whether or not you were invited to the wine tasting. And please, at least pause your conversation long enough to pay for your meal, or your merchandise! Believe it or not, you are not that adept at multi-tasking. Texting or constantly glancing at your cell phone to see if you have a message while I am talking with you is unbelievably rude.
  • In conversation with strangers or acquaintances: Unsolicited questions from strangers, acquaintances and even from family members such as, “Are you pregnant?” “How much did you pay for that?” and “Has he met his real parents?” cross my privacy boundaries. I am not a celebrity or a politician and I am not obliged to share my personal life with you.
Identifying declining courtesy issues is easier than determining how to respond to rude behavior and how to restore common politeness, respect and good manners. I believe it must start with us, in our homes and with our families.
What do you think? Do you believe we are in the depths of a rudeness epidemic? Does it matter? And if adjustments need to be made, what do you think should be done? You can’t legislate good manners.
The Advice Goddess, Amy Alkon , shares her perspective on Beating Some Manners into Impolite Society…

Minding Your P’s & Q’s: 4 Tips on Graduation Etiquette

Minding Your P’s & Q’s: 4 tips on Graduation Etiquette

Tis the season to celebrate graduation-a milestone in life’s journey- and that means ceremonies, parties and gift giving. If navigating the “do’s and don’ts and the wish I knew what to do” has you feeling like you’re wading through the alligator infested Okefenokee Etiquette Swamp, these four tips will help you.

1. Who gets an announcement and who gets an invitation to the ceremony?
A student usually gets a limited number of tickets for seats at the actual graduation ceremony. These invitations should be reserved for immediate family, including grandparents and should be sent out at least three to four weeks prior to the event, and for out of town relatives, six weeks. A more formal, printed announcement can be sent two weeks ahead of or after the event to extended family and friends. Some graduates design and create their own informal announcements. Although tempting to resort to a mass email, it is respectful to send printed announcements for such a momentous occasion.
2. Do I send a gift to everyone who sends me an announcement?
It is appropriate to give a gift, but not necessarily required. Most important is acknowledging the graduate’s accomplishment in some way, at least a congratulations card and note. A graduate always appreciates gifts, and many people automatically think of giving money. Your understanding of the family’s traditions and your relationship to the graduate will help you choose a meaningful present.
3. Graduation Parties: Invitations and RSVP’s.
A graduate’s family most often plans a party to celebrate this milestone. Invitations should be sent at least three weeks prior to the date of the party. Even if it is as casual as a drop by for an “Open House Celebration,” please, please, if you are invited to a party, RSVP as soon as possible. Some invitations may designate “Regrets only”. The hostess will be less stressed if the number of guests can be calculated. A note to the graduate: Please spend a little time with relatives or friends who have traveled from out of town to attend your celebration.
4. Thank You Notes: Absolutely!
A handwritten thank you note needs to be sent for each gift received. It doesn’t have to be long, but should acknowledge the gift and appreciation. Notes should be sent as promptly as possible. A generic- ” Thank you for the graduation gift”- borders on tacky. A thank you sent by email or text message are not considered appropriate.
Here is a helpful, delightful interview on graduation etiquette:
Graduation etiquette: Minding your manners: MyFoxBOSTON.com
Happy Graduation and Congratulations to all the graduates and your families! May your next journey in life be blessed with abundant joy!
Kathryn Barker

Manners Matter

While working my “floor time” at the Oregon St. Antique Mall, a customer grumbled “children definitely lack manners these days”.

Now, I know we have all seen parents who allow their children to run amuck in retail stores, in restaurants and at social gatherings. We have all observed a child “back talk” a parent or an elder, with no repercussions. And a natural conclusion might be that manners are antiquated, a custom of the past, and don’t matter anymore.

I agreed with the customer, that in some parenting circles, manners have taken a subordinate role in raising children. However, I assured her that I witnessed, first hand, an amazing community that is dedicated to teaching their children polite behavior.

My granddaughter celebrated her sixth birthday in January. She invited several of her friends (parents and younger siblings also came) to a party at the yogurt shop.


When the party ended, each child went to my granddaughter and thanked her. Each child was also reminded “go and thank Hayley’s mom too”. My granddaughter thanked her guests for coming, hugging her little girlfriends.

This isn’t the first time I have been impressed with this community’s dedication to manners. I have observed such courteous conduct at other parties, sporting events and at school. These wonderful parents are making a concerted effort to teach polite behavior, and it’s refreshing!

Happy Infusions!


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