Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Best FIRST DAY Ever!

Monday was literally one of the BEST days EVER! I'm counting EVERY blessing!!!

*First Day of School - normally sad (I hate giving up hanging out with my kids! They are such fun, easy, fairly self-sufficient people!) but sadness was assuaged by the one day ALL YEAR I really shop for myself: the Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale! (I won't pay $150 for a jacket or pants, even from my fave designer...but I'll pay $30!) I got these NINE fab sale items (8 for me, the bottom shorts for A), I only waited ~30 min in the queue before getting to shop (many people had a 2-hr+ wait!), the site didn't crash on me, & I didn't lose anything out of my cart (it can sell out of the items in your cart, until you actually check out.) ๐Ÿ’— I also had a GIFT CARD that JB's parents had given me for Christmas that I had been holding for this very day!!! Super deals on top of a gift card = my ideal spree! (I'll do a fashion show post when it arrives!)

*I got First Day pics with ZERO kid (Will) whining!

*Check out this sunrise!

*No one was late, & everyone was completely prepared. (I credit Lilly - had I not had that motivation to be up & ready, I could have been verrrrry lazy! :-P)

*The forecasted rain held off for both kids to walk/scooter to school, so I didn't have to combat any traffic! (Rain ended before dismissal, too, so no fighting pick-up traffic, either!)

*A BFF texted me this pic of Annelise on Safety Patrol! I still got to see her!!!

*Even when the rain DID come - on my commute into Zumba - it didn't make me late!

*My class was AWESOME, & I had more energy in class than I've had in WEEKS!!! I still can't get over how fast it flew by...

*A lady who gave me a REALLY nice workout top for my bday was back in class -- & I wore the top! I was sooo happy to get to thank her & have her see how much I love it!

*Last school year, I had to be home by 2:35 for Will getting out of junior high. It was an adjustment, b/c elementary gets out 3:40. This year, Will has football practice after school until 4:15, so he gets his happy activity, & I get my extra hour back! I sat in the hot tub after Zumba for 15 min, the steam room 10 min, & took a 20 min shower. Ahhhhhh...

*I got bubble tea. All. By. Myself. Used my one freebie I had! More ahhhhhh... Almond milk tea with ginger, tapioca, & agar

*Annelise reported she had a great first day! She loves school so much.

*Will reported he loves his new writing teacher (huge, b/c his from last year was his fave; I thought no one would EVER be able to live up to her!) I'm bowled over by his confidence! Only negatives: a kid who caused some trouble last year is back in choir, (I told him maybe God was putting him back in there to strengthen him,) and football practice was all offense; Will hates offense. (He plays safety & DE.)

*I had time to review the dance I was going to teach before cheer practice.

*I got to text catch-up with a BFF.

*We had one of the BEST cheer practices!!! My girls learned this whole new dance, and we even got to throw our stunts together at the end, which I didn't think we had a chance of getting to. (We ran over, but my parents were so awesome to let the girls continue. They could see how productive the girls were being!) It feels good to have them be old enough to really work through tough spots & find solutions together.

*I'm so proud of & thankful for the way my junior coach has grown from my squad to a junior high cheerleader now with such quality input at practice!!!

*I had my fave delish Trader Joe's mango chicken skewers for dinner.

*Kids went to bed on time.

*I don't have 200 school parent forms to fill out (only a few for choir) b/c our school system went to electronic forms I already did last week! No hand cramps here!!!

I could go on, but you get the idea... SO THANKFUL!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

EXTREME Last Week of Summer

Annelise had an EXTREME last week of summer! Her competition cheer team ("Extreme") had choreo camp from 8 AM - 2 PM Monday-Thursday to learn their whole competition routine for this season. Stunned at the amount they learned & CANNOT WAIT to see them hit this!!!
(I *love* her bottom pose! :-D)

Friday night, all of the Extreme families went out to eat together. Good bonding!

While Annelise was at cheer, Will & I lived at the gym. Will was my barbell (like Bodypump) partner for 3 weeks after football conditioning camp ended. Having him in there was so motivating! (I actually hate that he's had to go back to school! :-P I want my workout buddy back!!!)

Will got fitted for his junior high football equipment last Tuesday, and then he got his 7th Grade schedule last Wednesday. We walked his path & worked his locker until he was comfortable. Thankful for little bonuses, like him having math (the big homework class) before study hall & him starting the day with his 3 faves (football, math, science). Feeling confident:

Annelise had her 5th Grade Meet the Teacher night last Thursday. She has Mrs. Pinkerton (reading & social studies), along with Mrs. Martin (science) & Mrs. McClanahan (math). Will also had Martin & Pinkerton, and he LOVED them! Really excited that she's getting teachers he had: for the first time ever, we know exactly what we're getting! :-)

God closed out our summer "vacay" (we never stopped going!) with this amazing sunrise Sunday morning on my way in to sing at church:
A friend of mine thought "trinity" - how awesome?!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

National Anthem & New Squad Perspective

Our youth cheer & football league's Opening Ceremonies was this past Saturday. Not only did we have uniform distribution for all of our squads for three hours prior to the event...but I was asked to sing the National Anthem. I used to sing the Anthem for Charlotte's hockey team (between 7,000-10,000 people at those games; not like major league 60,000!) so that part wasn't as scary - our Opening Ceremonies is about 6,000 people...but it *was* a little different, b/c maybe 10 people out of those several thousand knew me then. This time, it's *my* cheer program; I'm in the executive leadership of this league; EVERYONE knows me, so if I bombed, I would NOT be able to slink away anonymously. :-P

And then I woke up on Friday with a stuffy head & sore, scratchy throat. I asked for prayer and self-medicated with Flonase, phแปŸ, ginger tea, & a few hours on the couch, before going to pack hundreds of uniforms for the next day. I also made myself be quiet all Friday & Saturday through distribution. (You *KNOW* that killed me!!! :-D Quiet is not my strong suit!)

Even after wrangling 300+ cheerleaders and getting them properly lined up on the field, God made the Anthem awesome!!! ๐Ÿ’— I'm GUTTED that no one videoed the whole thing. [I had earplugs in, b/c there's a significant delay b/t when you make noise & when it comes out over the stadium speakers, (no in-ear monitors available there, either) so I don't even know what it fully sounded like!] I regret not making a bigger deal about it beforehand and asking people to tape it. :-/ I guess I thought surely SOMEONE would just come through. Lesson learned. One of my cheer moms got two tiny clips - literally 15 seconds - b/c once she realized it was *me* singing, she was fumbling with her phone! :-P She put them together for me:


I will say, though, the response made my heart swell!!! A few of my cheer coaches posted:
"You sounded Amazing! Gave me chills."
"Omg! You should have seen everyone's face while you sang! Wow! Great job!"
"I wish I had had it recorded! I was completely shocked by the voice that came out of you! Killed it!"

I told them: "You know what's so funny? I let cheer go, b/c musical theatre was my life, and I was *so certain* I'd NEVER use cheer, again, as an adult. HAAAAA!!! God definitely has a way of making sure our different passions get fulfilled, even if it's in very unexpected seasons of life!" Everyone gushed, even the stoic football people who aren't loose with compliments. :-D I'm so glad I didn't back down from this opportunity (...b/c I definitely considered it!) It was powerful.

OH! I almost forgot!!! So this is also the 20th anniversary of our cheer program, and I was asked to put together a tribute video for the occasion. I got pics from the last 20 years, interviewed girls & coaches, & welded it all together. (Particularly proud of my audio mixing skills, adding the interviews into the background song! :-D)


The actual Opening Ceremonies football game was cancelled for storms, (you can see the black clouds in the first Anthem clip pic!) BUT we still had ALL 300+ cheerleaders on the field first to do our Opening Ceremonies Hello Cheer & 20th Anniversary Mashup Dance after the Anthem & video tribute, so CHEER SUCCESS! ๐ŸŽ‰ I'm extra proud of my squad for being beautifully poised without me near by when I have Board duties:

I am really loving my squad this year, so far. (Not that I don't have 2 or 3 challenges, but...) Maybe it's that they're all one more year mature? My youngest girls are finally 3rd graders, after starting with me in Kinder. Maybe they just know exactly what they're getting with me as their coach, with 2/3rds of them for the 4th year now? I know another part of it is that I feel waaay less personal pressure. Last year - my first year running the whole cheer program myself - I really felt like I had to raise the bar higher than ever, and I wanted to keep raising expectations every week. It was also Will's last year playing, and it meant the world to me for every Saturday to be EXCELLENT. This year, 1) I've more than proven myself. 2) A bit of intensity has relaxed, b/c we're no longer cheering for MY son or our football family. 3) This year, we're going to be cheering for a different football team each week, so I'm not as emotionally wrapped up in the team's performance, AND b/c it's a new audience each week, we can occasionally repeat halftime shows, b/c they will be new to the fans, which is a LOAD of extra choreo & teaching time off my shoulders. 4) And perhaps the biggest factor: now that Annelise is also doing competition cheer, *I* am no longer her sole source of preparation for junior high cheer. Yes, my "graduated" girls made their junior high squads this year, (I was stunned!) but still - when it was only me preparing her way, anything less than hardcore was unacceptable. Now with her getting additional skills at the cheer gym, I feel like it gives me license to be more... not relaxed (my cheer fams would balk at that description! :-P) but maybe less "speed demon drill sergeant" and now just "drill sergeant". ;-)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Will's 12th Birthday

Will turned 12 years old a week ago Saturday! He is kind, loyal, conscientious, ...and his favorite thing to play off the football field is Nerf. :-D We held his Nerf War party (just like last year :-P) on Sunday the 7th:

He wanted to make sure I didn't miss interviewing him this year. I love that he loves doing this, too:

1. What would you say was the best day of your last year? Causing a fumble on the first play against our nemesis, the Cowboys
2. What was the worst day of your last year…and why? Losing in the final seconds against the Panthers
3. If you could pick one meal for someone to make you, what would it be? LaLa's mac & cheese
4. What do you want to achieve this year? To add a sports award to my junior high's banner hanging in the gym
5. What do you admire most about your dad? He's an amazing football coach.
6. What music really moves you? Fall Out Boy & twenty one pilots
7. What is your favorite thing to pray? For God to forgive my sins & help everyone do their best.
8. What does your sister do that frustrates (or encourages) you? When she lies & gets in trouble, it reinforces why I don't do that.
9. And what does your sister do that helps you? She helps me forget I have to go back to school.
10. What do you think you’d like to do for a job when you get older? NFL and then YouTuber
11. What’s the best thing about being a part of our family? Having parents who support me in any choices I make.
12. What’s the hardest part about being the oldest child in our family? Watching your little sibling do the same wrong things that you did, but them getting less punishment for it.
13. What sorts of things in this world make you angry? People not knowing how to drive. And Donald Trump.
14. Can you describe what the perfect day would look like to you? School being cancelled, waking up to Daddy's Jiffy cakes & eggy bread, going to K1 Speed for go-karting, play Anki Overdrive, have LaLa's mac & cheese for dinner, and Mommy & Sissy make a cherry pie with tons of whipped cream on top for dessert
15. What would you say are your top fave movies? And what is it about them that you like? The Secret Life of Pets, b/c it's hilarious & makes you think about what your pet is doing it at home alone while you're gone. The Lego Movie, b/c it would be so cool if you could really do that and build that.
16. What skill do wish you could be better at? What we can do to help you improve it? Making 75% of my baskets in basketball. You're already letting me practice every time we go to LifeTime.
17. What kinds of things make you want to cry? When I lose a game.
18. What character qualities do you especially appreciate in a friend? Kindness, creativity, fun
19. What are your fave ice cream flavors? Ben & Jerry's Americone Dream & Blue Bell's Cookie Two Step
20. What do you wish I understood better about you? How fun Xbox is for me.
21. Do you know how much I love you? YES. :-)

Dixie Chicks Joy

The Dixie Chicks are one of my favorite bands of ALL TIME. Their tight girl harmonies go straight to my heart, and I almost burst into tears last November when they announced they were FINALLY going to do another US tour for the first time in ten years. (Their 2003 tour was the best concert I had ever been to in my life!) The concert date was scheduled for August 6th...which is Will's actual birthday. I asked his permission first to be gone on his bday evening, and he was like, "Are you kidding?!" :-D I gave Will the greatest bday gift I could: leaving him home with Daddy to play as much Xbox as he wants (I hate it!) without me constantly asking if he's done, YET! :-P My fellow-Chick kindred spirit BFF, Tina, and I bought tickets together, praying it would work out for her to come down from Michigan - although we stay in close touch constantly, we haven't gotten to see each other in person in over 3 1/2 years. :'( Absolutely heartbroken that it couldn't work out, but in her stead, and I took Annelise. My Cheertator BFF, Wendy, came with; she ended up with an extra ticket, too (we should have sold them! the show was completely sold out!!! :-D) so she also brought her daughter. I honestly would have much rather had Tina than Annelise, b/c she would have sung every word with me, unlike Annelise who actually took a little nap at one point!!! :-P (It was late. And she is sooo Daddy's daughter: able to sleep ANYWHERE!) But at least she got to hear amazing live music, and I actually took video clips of almost every song during the concert and sent them to Tina, so it was like she also came. ♥ I was going to post a few of those clips, but I can't even begin to pick just a few favorites... Exquisite!!!


Friday, August 5, 2016

Kusama: At the End of the Universe

We were bowled over on Thursday by the Kusama exhibit at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston! Kusama: At the End of the Universe unites two of contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama's signature infinity rooms. I am NOT generally big on modern art, but I am HUGE on immersive, interactive experiences, and these were breathtaking...

The glowing forms of Love Is Calling shoot up from the floor and hang down from the ceiling. Covered in the artist's signature polka dots, these soft sculptures constantly change color. Further amplifying the experience as viewers pass through the room is a recording of Kusama's voice as she recites a love poem in Japanese, which echoes through the installation.

Kusama's Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity is an intimate space illuminated by an array of golden lights that ignite and then fade into darkness. Visitors enter and stand in the center of the room, finding themselves enveloped by a seemingly infinite horizon and then confronted by an equally infinite void.
(I snapped this last pic as the docent opened the door to lead us out.)

We had timed tickets for both rooms, and we entered each with just our small little group - delightful to enjoy just us. We all six did the rainbow room together, and we had to do two groups of three for the tiny gold lights. (The girls and then the boys wanted to be together, not families. :-P)

We would have stayed in there for hours, had they let us... Such a magical experience!!! And thankful to experience it with our competition cheer BFFs.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Cheer Camp 2016 & Stunt Certification

CHEER CAMP 2016 is in the books! 300 girls, 9 hours, 2 sessions of 4 cheers, jumps, arms, & 1 dance each = 5 happily exhausted, proud, & satisfied Cheertators:

Tons of girls:

We taught them our new Hello Cheer for this season:

And our dance that we'll be performing at Opening Ceremonies in two weeks on 8/13. It's a mashup of four songs from the late 90's and early 2000's, b/c this year is our cheer program's 20th anniversary:


We also asked our families to participate in Operation Backpack, again, this year:

Since Will's Falcons have graduated to play junior high football, our girls have graduated now, too, to become Dream Team Pink! Only 2 of the 18 Senior Varsity football teams in our youth league have cheer this year, so we're going to rotate around to cheer for as many teams possible this season! It felt AWESOME to have most of my squad back together, & they were performance rockstars at Camp while I taught the rest of the league. SO PROUD & SO EXCITED for this season!

Rewind back to the night before Cheer Camp: we also held a Stunt Certification clinic for all of our cheer coaches! This was HUGE, b/c it's the FIRST time our league has offered anything like this. We are really raising the bar on quality, training, & safety!!! I'm most proud of this this year. The head coach of Annelise's cheer gym led the training, and everything he taught us was pure gold!

There may be one more pic floating around somewhere of me flying up in a prep... ;-) (If I can get my hands on it, I will soooo share it! :-D)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Houston Zoo

Who would've guessed a trip to the zoo in JULY in TEXAS would be utterly LOVELY?!?! Perfect weather, a little distant thunder, & sprinkles right as we finished our last exhibit. We saw all our faves & fed the giraffes with our cheer & football BFF:
It was wonderful to go back for the first time in several years! Next week, we're hitting the art museum with them! #staytuned