What Should Sports Be Teaching Our Kids? Guest Post By Author Anne Montgomery

Please welcome Anne back to the blog for her illuminating post about kids playing sports. I am a great admirer of Ms. Montgomery’s opinions when it comes to most topics – especially sports; she advocates for the kids and for the games they play.

Thank you for all you do, Anne!

I’ve spent most of my life in the sports world. I ice skated, skied, and swam as a kid. I was a sports reporter for about 15 years. For the past four decades, I’ve officiated amateur sports: mostly football and baseball, but I’ve called basketball, ice hockey, and soccer games, as well.

So, I feel qualified to take a good hard look at the American sports scene. And what I see isn’t pretty, which is upsetting for someone who’s always believed that participation in sports makes us better people, endowing us with skills needed to be successful in both our personal and professional lives.

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I read a book recently that crystalized some of the issues affecting sports in the U.S.  In Norwich, a story detailing a tiny Vermont town that has produced an inordinate number of well-adjusted Olympic athletes, New York Times reporter Karen Crouse writes, “(T)he parents of Norwich learned through trial and error the best methods of nourishing happy athletes: by valuing participation and sportsmanship, and stressing fun, community, and self-improvement.”

Anyone who has attended a youth-level sports competition over the last two decades must surely know that idyllic communities like Norwich are about as common as unicorns. The “winning is everything” adage is on display in the behavior of parents, coaches, and fans even when children are in elementary school, a time when sports competition should focus on teamwork, building friendships, and learning to win and lose gracefully.

What has changed? Dollar signs. Parents see pro athletes in an 11-year-old Pop Warner football player or a Little League pitcher. The inevitable leap to specialization and year-round club teams all in the hope they will spawn the next major leaguer is both sad and disturbing.

I have spent the last 19 years teaching in an inner-city high school in Phoenix. Way too many of my students say they want to be professional athletes. I explain they should have a Plan B, since statistics clearly show most will never play organized sports after high school, and that, even if they receive that rare college-sports scholarship, the chance of ever getting a professional tryout is like winning the Powerball lottery.

Why do my students want to be pro athletes? They imagine that multimillion-dollar lifestyle. These kids – like the previously mentioned helicopter parents – seem to care only about the fame and financial riches to be gained. When I point out that pro careers are difficult, generally very short, and that the vast majority of athletes are not banking millions and living in mansions, they scoff.

According to Crouse, children in Norwich are not raised to believe that the raison d’être of sports participation is material gain. “(T)he social tapestry of Norwich represents a triumph of nurture over the natural order of the modern world, which has given us a wealth and acquisition model that favors autonomy over relationships and independence over community.”

The point in encouraging children to participate in sports has never been about money and fame. It’s about teaching them to be happy, well-adjusted adults. Competing in sports teaches discipline, respect for authority, persistence, teamwork, dedication, self-esteem, and, perhaps most importantly, how to cope with failure.

However, forcing a child into a single sport, in order to chase dreams of college scholarships and a pro career, ignores the possibility that they might excel in different areas if given the opportunity, and often produces injuries, burnout, and depression. This strategy differs greatly from that of the parents of Norwich who, “When in doubt, erred on the side of giving their children freedom. They were determined not to be like the parents who control their children’s choices for reasons having to do with their own egos or anxieties.”

Young people need to have the opportunity to try new things, which is the first step in determining what they might like to do in the future. While I encourage my students to compete in sports, I would be remiss if I stopped there. I want them to take art and music and drama and woodworking and culinary arts and any other subject that stirs their imagination. These experiences will help guide their decisions for the future, when they must consider what they like, what they’re good at, and what someone will pay them to do.

I am sometimes reminded of a moment I witnessed while refereeing a high school football game. At halftime, the marching band took the field. And there, in the horn section, was a football player — sans helmet and shoulder pads — playing the trumpet. I wanted to applaud him for branching out, and congratulate his coach for granting the player the opportunity to pursue music.

I wish I could say sights like this are common, but sadly they’re not. I only mention it because I think the people of Norwich would have been proud.

Mystery/Suspense

Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

http://www.midpointtrade.com/book_detail.php?book_id=261955

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

Thoughts?

Thanks for reading!

Gina

Tuesdays With Morrie By Mitch Albom – Recommended Book Review

I’m not usually pushy about book recommendations, but today I will be, because if you haven’t read this treasure of a book from 1997, you really, really, should.

My review is of the 1997 print version.

Reading this book bathed me in good feelings, and the awareness that Morrie Schwartz and I have solid life principles in common. What mattered most to Morrie in life are the same things that matter most to me – people, relationships, contentedness, and joy.

Tuesdays With Morrie was written by Morrie Schwartz’s student, Mitch Albom. Albom’s intent was to raise money to help with Schwartz’s medical bills. We learn this in the afterward, after we’ve been thoroughly steeped in how much Albom and others benefited from knowing Morrie Schwartz.

Morrie Schwartz taught far more than the classes listed on student’s schedules. He and other professors of their time used their position to better their student’s lives and inspired them to be good humans. He taught them the value of silence and illuminated how much we can learn from it.

If I’m even a percentage of the teacher he was, it’s in part because I read this book.

Click here to visit the books page of Mitch Albom’s website. He has interesting goodies over there.

This is an iconic book, so I’m betting at least some of you have read it. If so, please share your thoughts about it with me.

Thanks for reading!

Gina

Chicken Dumpling Soup – Guest Post By Author Chris Pavesic

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Cold weather, hot homemade soup, and a great read. We’re doing it Chris Pavesic style. Recipe included.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 cans (14-1/2 oz. each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper or to taste
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Dumplings:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon margarine
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley for parsley dumplings (optional)

Materials:

  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large nonstick skillet/Dutch oven
  • Small bowl
  • Fork
  • Tablespoon

Directions:

1.  In a large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, brown chicken.  Add the broth, water, vegetables and seasonings.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, for dumplings, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt (add dried parsley if desired) in a small bowl. With a fork cut in the margarine to resemble coarse crumbs.  Mix in the milk.  Set aside.

3.  Bring soup to a boil.  Drop dumplings by tablespoonfuls into the boiling soup.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in dumplings comes out clean (do not lift cover while simmering).

Serve immediately.

Starter Zone Image

Chris Pavesic continues the amazing story of Cami Malifux with Book 2 of the Revelation Chronicles.

Purchase at Amazon

Purchase at Smashwords 

Escape from a world of darkness into a magical realm of limitless adventure.

In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure.

In the Traveler’s Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world.

Time to play the game.

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

Many thanks to Chris for stopping by to feed us and show us the Revelation Chronicles!

What’s your favorite soup?

Thanks for reading!

Gina

Connections In Death By J.D. Robb – Recommended Book Review

48 books and going strong!

I’ll start with the official blurb.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER (February 2019)

Lieutenant Eve Dallas fights to save the innocent—and serve justice to the guilty—on the streets of New York in Connections in Death, the gritty and gripping new In Death novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author J.D. Robb.

Homicide cop Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband, Roarke, are building a brand-new school and youth shelter. They know that the hard life can lead kids toward dangerous crossroads—and with this new project, they hope to nudge a few more of them onto the right path. For expert help, they hire child psychologist Dr. Rochelle Pickering—whose own brother pulled himself out of a spiral of addiction and crime with Rochelle’s support.

Lyle is living with Rochelle while he gets his life together, and he’s thrilled to hear about his sister’s new job offer. But within hours, triumph is followed by tragedy. Returning from a celebratory dinner with her boyfriend, she finds Lyle dead with a syringe in his lap, and Eve’s investigation confirms that this wasn’t just another OD. After all his work to get clean, Lyle’s been pumped full of poison—and a neighbor with a peephole reports seeing a scruffy, pink-haired girl fleeing the scene.

Now Eve and Roarke must venture into the gang territory where Lyle used to run, and the ugly underground world of tattoo parlors and strip joints where everyone has taken a wrong turn somewhere. They both believe in giving people a second chance. Maybe even a third or fourth. But as far as they’re concerned, whoever gave the order on Lyle Pickering’s murder has run out of chances…

My Review

Starting a new In Death book always feels like going home to visit family you see twice a year – because that has been the release schedule for the past few years and when you’ve been reading the same series for a decade a new release is like a family reunion.

I read the new release as soon as I can, which is usually through the library. I put in a request for the ebook and the hardcover on release day and wait to see which one comes up first. This year it has been the hardcover. If I was set on reading the ebook version through the library I would wait another four or five months.

This review is of the hardcover version.

I classify In Death books as being either character driven or case driven. Connections In Death is case driven. There is a healthy amount of main character Eve Dallas’ drool-worthy husband, Roarke, in the story, and a gathering where we get to party with most of the series beloved characters.

If you’re new to the series I think you should know that all of the books have graphic scenes in them, either in the bedroom, at the crime scene, in the morgue, and at times in the field. You should also know that the series takes place in the future and the technology is part of the charm.

The pacing of this book was addictive and before I knew it I finished the book in a few sittings. This was our bright-eyed Dallas, tugging on every lead, seeing information no one else could. That’s why she’s the lieutenant.

The action sequences are easy to follow and we had a few in this one. There’s solid motive for Pickering’s staged OD, a satisfying investigation, and a perfect conclusion. If there’s one trick I think Robb missed, it would be that I would liked to have seen Dr. Rochelle Pickering after the case is solved. It’s a tiny thing compared to how the city they live in is enriched by what Eve Dallas and her team accomplished in the course of the investigation.

Connections In Death gets a solid five out of five stars from me. If you like futuristic homicide mysteries, give this series a try. Then we can talk about who we think the candy thief is. I have a couple of theories, like that it has to be someone in homicide.

Here’s a link to J.D. Robb’s website where you can find buy links and more goodies.

Are you an In Death fan?

Thanks for reading!

Gina

Apples, Apples, Apples

A guest post by Emma Lane where she shares new ideas for applesauce flavors and an excerpt from her regency romance, “The Duke and Miss Amabel Hawkins”.

FRUIT APPLES Photo by Fidel Fernando on Unsplash

Such a gorgeous fruit. A fruit bowl on the dining room table lends a nice fragrance to the room; apple bobbing and caramel apples are for Halloween. Did your mom ever make fresh apple sauce? Nothing like the stuff they sell in the grocery store, is it? At my little Herbtique Shoppe here in Western NY, we sell Gourmet Chunky Rum Apple Sauce. The recipe is a state secret, but here are some hints to make the most of this delicious fruit.

Select both soft and firm apples, ie Courtland is soft, Greenings are firm. One will cook down first leaving the other ‘chunky’. Stir frequently. Burned apples are not delicious and the soft ones cook rapidly.

To peel or not to peel: We leave the peel on at home. Commercially we don’t. Both are good. Taste before you add sugar. Most times it isn’t necessary.

Blend flavors: Buy as many different kinds of apples as you can. Not only is this tasty, but it’s way fun as well. As you peel, take a bite now and then to compare flavors.

Flavorings: You are probably familiar with cinnamon to taste. A very small dash of nutmeg and cloves is good too. Vanilla is a winner. One cap and then taste. Other flavorings are great too-here is a good place to experiment. Let your eye roam over the choices at the grocery store. My son swears root beer would be great; he could be right. Be careful with maple syrup; it gets too sweet fast.

Baked apples are wonderful when you use a touch of flavoring with your brown sugar—vanilla is one of my favorites but you might find others.

Regarding the RUM: If you are making apple sauce, add at the last minute with whatever flavoring you have chosen. It gives it a sort of butter taste. I am about to experiment with BRANDY. You might try it too.

A neighbor just hinted to me that apple added to salsa is good. Can’t wait to try.

Canning apple sauce takes expert knowledge. Please do not try it if you haven’t done quite a bit of reading. PH is a biggie. We use lemon juice and a ph meter.

Enjoy the apple harvest. There are so many ways and I didn’t even mention: apple pie, apples and cheese, cocktail apples, home dried apples, apple pan dowdy, apple crumb cake, apple butter, etc, etc. Dried apples and apple pie are delicious any time.

After you’ve mulled over all the apple opportunities may I suggest a peek into one of my Regency releases?

Can an arrogant duke overcome his prejudice against a beautiful but managing female in time to find true love and happiness?

Miss Amabel Hawkins acknowledges her unusual upbringing, but she thinks James Langley, the Duke of Westerton, might be a tad unbalanced when he protests her efforts to right his badly managed properties. The duke, who has been away on the king’s business, demonstrates no respect for the beautiful but managing Miss Hawkins. Amabel has taken refuge at Westerton, fleeing from a forced marriage to a man who claims to be her relative in order to gain control of her young brother’s estate.

The Duke arrives home to find his estate under the firm control of a beautiful but managing female. His suspicions are fueled by his recent task of spy-hunting and he wonders if Amabel Hawkins is just who she seems. While a dastardly spy lurks, a wicked man poses as her cousin threatening to take over the guardianship of her young brother. Amabel might be falling in love, but she knows for certain the duke would never approve of a meddlesome woman, and she decides to flee his estate. Will the duke finally realize the true value of the woman he loves or will his prejudice ruin his chances forever?

EXCERPT
Fatigue and the effects of the brandy on top of the ale now gave his gait a distinct wobble. He chuckled, amused at his condition.

As he reached for the portrait of great Uncle Barney, he lurched into the back of the red leather sofa in front of the cosy fire. “Deuce take it,” he exclaimed when a rounded arm rolled into view. He spotted the gentle curve of a hip and walked around to the front, where he spied a tumbled haze of dark curls hiding a face. It is indeed a female—a sleeping female.

Who was she? The gown was too rich for his household staff. Curious, he knelt beside the sofa.


“Only one way to find out,” he whispered and moved one dark curl. He sat back, satisfied when a handsome face swam into view. She sighed and rolled over, revealing a generous figure and a pair of rosy lips. She might be Sleeping Beauty—but not one of my relatives. He leaned over and kissed those tempting lips.

As he lingered there, she sighed and came partially awake. He could not resist. He deepened the kiss and sounds of satisfaction like yum and umm came from those delicious lips. Her hand stroked his face, then reached around his head to pull him closer. Delighted with this turn of events, the Duke of Westerton complied enthusiastically and extended an arm around a slender waist. How much of the ale and brandy had he imbibed? Dizziness overcame his senses as he slid down on the floor and knew no more.

Amazon Buy Link

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you have a favorite apple tradition?

Thanks for reading!

Gina

Recommended Book Review: Polaris Rising By Jessie Mihalik

Sci-fi is one of my pet genres that doesn’t get stroked nearly as much as I’d like because I get seduced by tairens, dragons, fairies, and other fantasy characters much more often. I’m glad that didn’t happen this time because I would have missed out on a five-star book.

I found The Consortium Rebellion series through an annual literacy fundraiser called Buns & Roses. Each table is hosted by an author, whom we get to have tea and chat with. This is my second year attending.

When the list of authors hits my inbox I read their bios and look at their book offerings. You know I was thrilled to see sci-fi on the list, from a new-to-me author, and that the book had good ratings on Amazon and members of one of my Goodreads book clubs recommended it.

I dove in.

Polaris Rising started as a book I read for Buns & Roses and turned into so much more when it delivered excellent world building that hasn’t been done to where you wonder if you’ve already read the book and interesting characters who captured my attention.

Space travel is common in Polaris Rising and humans dominate the universe. The main character, Ada, is a daughter of a ruling family in the consortium, who flees an arranged marriage and has to stay ahead of everyone trying to drag her back to her father and the man she gave up her position and security to avoid. She’s empowered, smart, and sassy. Totally fun to read. Her knowledge of spaceships is impressive and was a major reason I was invested in the story.

Plus, there’s a romance! Marcus Loch is one of those rough-around-the-edges heroes you want to tame, but not all the way.

Mihalik gave me a slow-burn romance that I loved and which enhanced the rest of the story. There are sexy times, in good proportion to what the main characters are going through.

The book is excellent, even if there are some questions I didn’t feel were answered. I can’t go into them without spoilers, but I can say that having those questions unanswered didn’t take me out of the story or lower my rating.

Meeting Mihalik was a big highlight at Buns & Roses. She was as much fun to hang out with as she was to read.

Buy links and more can be found on Jessie Mihalik’s website.

What about you? Are you into sci-fi with a perfect amount of romance?

Thanks for reading,

Gina

*This review is not sponsored in any way.