LIST Birmingham - May 2020

MAY 2020

MELVIN’ S MONTHLY MOMENTS

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WHAT I LEARNED FROM BASEBALL

To my knowledge, I was the worst Little League player in history.

in the store. However, Schneider’s always had the best Little League uniforms: button-up shirts with pinstripes like the Yankees, with a long-sleeved gray T-shirt with blue sleeves underneath (we were fancy). Once you were placed on a team, you stayed on that team the whole time you were in Little League. Like most of the 10-years-olds competing with older children, I was terrible. I always played in the last inning just in time to be the last out — always a strikeout. But as bad as I was at batting, I was far worse as a fielder. I could not catch a pop-up and the only place they would ever play me was right field. As an 11-year-old, I was bigger and a little better, but still, it was the same story: a solid year of sitting on the bench, playing the last inning usually as the last batter, and always striking out. Don’t get me wrong, I was actually a decent athlete. In neighborhood pickup games, I was a good hitter and caught anything thrown near me, but in an “official” game, I had extreme performance anxiety. I froze. My last year, when I was 12, I was determined to be better. I had a late birthday, which meant I was one of the oldest kids in the league. Things started well. In practice, I hit a ball that hit the top of the fence. In a league where there are only 3–4 homers in a year, this was an impressive feat. I also got to play second base, and I was pretty good. When our first game of the season rolled around, I couldn’t wait to redeem myself. In that first game, I was batting third in the lineup and starting at second base. It was like I was living a dream. Everything went well until I stepped up to

the plate. I completely froze. You guessed it — three pitches, three strikes. I struck out not once, not twice, but three times in that game. It was back to the bench for me and on to another year of misery. I never even got a foul ball that season. For three years of my life, I was an absolute failure in baseball. As painful as that experience was, ultimately, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I remember being the last out at the end of the season. As I slowly walked back to the dugout with my head hung low, I was relieved, thinking, “This nightmare is finally over.”Then, from somewhere deep inside of me, there was a small voice that said, “Yeah, but I didn’t quit.” I don’t know why I had such overwhelming performance anxiety, but I left my last season of Little League determined to beat it. By my senior year of high school, I played the lead role in all our school plays. I won my high school drama award and was rated one of the top actors in state competitions. Speech was my favorite subject, and I was never afraid to speak in public. Can you imagine the sad little 12-year-old boy who struck out every time now performing in a play in front of the whole school or speaking to an audience? Ironically, that little boy is precisely what I pictured every time I was on stage.

I am fromWinona, a sleepy little town in north Mississippi with about 5,000 people. When I grew up, Little League was for 10–12-year-olds. I started playing as a 10-year-old. There were four teams in Winona: Piggly Wiggly, Olson’s, Pepsi, and Schneider’s. I was on Schneider’s, sponsored by Schneider’s Department Store, the most expensive store in town —my family could not afford anything

Finally, I had my redemption.

‘Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.’ –Babe Ruth

-Melvin Upchurch

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HOW TO STAY IN TOUCH WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS While Following Social Distancing Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are encouraging communities across the U.S. to practice social distancing. While this will help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, it also means that social interactions will be minimal. In addition to impeding many industries and businesses, this has significant impacts on families and friends who can no longer visit each other in person. Luckily, the technology we have today allows us to stay in touch while still practicing social responsibility. SPRUCE UP EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES. Hopping on the phone or your laptop to video chat is a great way to reach out and catch up with loved ones. While folding laundry or doing other mundane chores, give a friend or your parents a call to idly chat; it can make your tedious tasks much more enjoyable. Video calls are also beneficial if, for example, you’re missing out on your daily workouts with a friend. Hop on a video chat to practice yoga, cardio, or other simple exercise routines together. LET YOUR KIDS CHAT WITH FRIENDS. Kids can benefit from video chatting by staying in touch with their friends while school and other activities are canceled. Letting your kids connect to social media is a pretty big step, so consider signing them up for Yoursphere or Kidzworld, kid-friendly networks that let them keep in touch with their friends while you can monitor their activity. Get in touch with other parents to set up virtual play dates over video chats for your kids. They can even watch a movie or TV show together.

Serving breakfast in bed to moms, especially on Mother’s Day, has been a widespread tradition for years, but have you ever wondered if it’s what your mom really wants? Here’s a look at the Mother’s Day breakfast in bed tradition and some recent insight into the popular trend. According to Heather Arndt Anderson, author of “Breakfast: A History,” the popularity of breakfast in bed became widespread during the Victorian era, but only for married, wealthy women who had servants. Those women would enjoy their first meal of the day in bed, and then their servants would handle all the spilled scone crumbs and messy breakfast residue. In 1914, President WoodrowWilson dubbed Mother’s Day a national U.S. holiday, and a few years later, the aristocratic English tradition of breakfast in bed sailed across the pond to America. By the 1930s, food and bedding companies capitalized on the tradition and the new holiday by running ads in magazines and newspapers encouraging children and fathers to serve their matriarchs breakfast in bed. Since then, serving mothers breakfast in bed has become a popular Mother’s Day ritual around the world, and it remains so today. However, there is one group whose voice has been left out of the breakfast in bed conversation: mothers. In a recent study conducted by Zagat, a well-known dining survey site, researchers found that only 4% of moms polled want breakfast in bed. Yes, you read that right. When you factor in the mess of syrup, crumbs, and coffee spilling over clean sheets, it’s understandable. Today’s mothers usually don’t have servants to clean up afterward. The study also revealed what most moms prefer to do for breakfast on Mother’s Day: 53% of mothers like to go out, and 39% prefer brunch instead of breakfast. While breakfast in bed seems like a nice gesture, statistics show that it’s probably the last thing your mom wants to wake up to on May 10. This Mother’s Day, show your appreciation for your mom or the mother of your children by asking her what she would like to do. She deserves the holiday morning she desires, whether that includes a full breakfast in bed or a trip to her favorite brunch joint. HAS BREAKFAST IN BED GONE OUT OF STYLE? WHAT MOMS REALLY WANT ON MOTHER’S DAY

HOST A MOVIE NIGHT. Speaking of movies, Netflix developed a unique way for people to watch movies

and shows together: Netflix Party. If you have a desktop or laptop with a Chrome browser, visit NetflixParty. com to download the application.

Once downloaded, open the movie or TV series you’d like to watch, create or join a “party,” then relax and enjoy the show while chatting with friends.

These are only a few examples of how we can stay in touch during these concerning times. Talk with your family and friends and see what other creative ideas you can come

up with together. Even though you may be apart from loved ones right now, virtual communication has never been easier or more

plentiful.

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THE STORY OF GRANDPA MASON How a Feral Cat Came to Care for Orphaned Kittens

When cats are orphaned as kittens, they don’t get the chance to develop all the skills needed to become successful cats. Just like human children, kittens need older role models too. The most famous cat role model had a rough start in life but became an inspiration for kittens and humans alike. His name was Grandpa Mason, and during the last years of his life, he stepped up and gave love, care, and guidance to the orphaned kittens that lived with him.

The Canadian animal rescue group TinyKittens rescued Grandpa Mason in 2016 from a property that was scheduled to be bulldozed. The poor feral tabby was suffering from many health problems, including severe dental issues, a badly injured paw, and advanced kidney disease. Since TinyKittens is a no-kill rescue organization, euthanization was out of the question. Given his health conditions, veterinarians predicted the battle-scarred Grandpa Mason didn’t have long to live, so TinyKittens’ founder, Shelly Roche, took him in and provided him with a comfortable place to sleep, plenty of food, and time to relax in the last months of his life. Grandpa Mason had a hard time adjusting to domestic life and would often shy away from being pet. In an interview with The Dodo, Roche described him as “an elderly gentleman [who] lived his whole life a certain way, and then, all of a sudden, [was] forced to live completely differently.” After Grandpa Mason grew accustomed to his home, Roche took in several foster kittens, and those new roommates completely altered Grandpa Mason’s behavior. Roche expected him to hiss, swat, or growl at the kittens when they invaded his space, but he didn’t. Instead, he allowed them to crawl all over him and appeared to enjoy it when they licked his ear. Suddenly a playful, affectionate, and gentle personality came out of Grandpa Mason as he played with, bathed, taught, and cared for the orphaned kittens that Roche welcomed into her home. Potentially due to the kittens’ influence, Grandpa Mason surpassed his prognosis by more than two years. During the last few years of his life, Grandpa Mason passed on important lessons and good manners to the kittens he looked after and adored, as a true grandfather should. He passed last September, but he spent his last night in his ultimate happy place: snuggling in his bed surrounded by kittens.

STICKY AND SWEET PORK ‘RIBS’

TAKE A BREAK

Inspired by Bon Appétit

Ingredients

Directions

1.

In a blender, purée garlic, ginger, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, honey, rice wine, chili oil, oyster sauce, and toasted sesame oil until smooth.

2 heads garlic, cloves separated

3 thumbs ginger, chopped

1 cup hoisin sauce

3/4 cup fish sauce

2.

Reserve and chill 1 1/2 cups for later use.

2/3 cup honey

3.

In a bag, add the remaining mixture and pork shoulder. Marinate for at least 8 hours. Using a convection plate on the grill, cook pork until the thickest part reaches an internal temperature of 140–145 F. In a large saucepan, simmer brown sugar, molasses, and reserved marinade for 6–8 minutes. Baste the pork with the brown sugar glaze for 2 minutes before serving.

2/3 cup rice wine

4.

1/2 cup chili oil

1/3 cup oyster sauce

1/3 cup toasted sesame oil

5.

5 lbs boneless pork shoulder, flattened

Solution on Page 4

6.

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp molasses

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INSIDE 1

What I Learned From Baseball

2

Has Breakfast in Bed Gone Out of Style? Powerful Ways to Honor Our Veterans The Best Grandfather a Kitten Could Have Sticky and Sweet Pork ‘Ribs’ What Is Gardening Good For?

3

4

HEALTH BENEFITS OF FAMILY GARDENING Give Your Kid the Gift of a Green Thumb

Yes, there will always be football season, basketball season, and soccer season, but right now, it’s gardening season. That means it’s time to roll up your sleeves and play in the dirt. If you’ve been searching for a way to get the kids away from technology and engaged with the real world, gardening is the perfect activity for the whole family to enjoy. Not only is it fun, but it’s also beneficial for your kids’ development. For example, gardening can improve your children’s analytical abilities. As Dr. Wendy Matthews says, “Gardening exercises important reasoning, initiation, planning, and organization skills.” Furthermore, several studies, including one at Texas A&M University, suggest that gardening improves a child’s attitude toward fruits and vegetables and may make them more likely to choose them as snacks. Gardening helps kids identify with where their food is coming from, and nothing tastes better than a freshly picked strawberry or pea pod they grew themselves. Jack Gilbert, a scientist at the University of Chicago and a parent himself, and his co-author, Rob Knight, emphasize the health benefits of garden time in their book, “Dirt Is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System.”The two found that exposure to different microbes, like those found in a garden, strengthens a child’s immune system and makes them less likely to develop allergies.

If this is your first time gardening, you don’t need much to get started. Grab a few shovels, a pair of gloves for each family member, and fresh potting soil, and you’ll be set. Then, you can decide together which plants you’d like to grow! Carrots are fun because of the surprise factor — just imagine your child discovering that the part they eat grows below the ground! Peas are tasty and fairly easy to grow, as are strawberries. The options really are endless. Depending on the growing season in your area, you can choose to buy seeds or opt for rooted plants.

Last but certainly not least, the best part of gardening as a family is the healthy, fresh produce you’ll get to enjoy all summer long!

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