Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cheer Strife & Disappointment

Coaching is hard. Even when it's "just kids". Maybe especially when it's "just kids" - the intensity of training may not be as hard core, but you are molding & shaping young minds, attitudes, & habits for the rest of their lives. It's a big responsibility, and one both JB & I take very seriously. We do not commit to anything we cannot give 100% to, and we believe one of the most important lessons we can teach our kids is accountability.

Not everyone feels this way. Some families take the stance that it's better to join as many things as their kids want to get a taste of and think it's OK to split time & miss practices here & there to make it all fit. As much as that is a foreign concept to us, we have learned that it is very much the norm for some families.

This conflict of philosophies led to a pretty horrific last week and the very first time I have ever been involved in public FB drama. To say it was hurtful is a gross understatement; it's taken me a full week to muster the intestinal fortitude to talk about it here. Long story short: a football mom, who we REALLY thought was our friend, decided to publically slam JB on FB last Friday morning for having Wednesday night practices, *before* they could have the meeting Friday night that SHE scheduled to talk it out, (after blowing him off twice to discuss this the previous week.) I will *not* repost her disrespectful words here, but as another cheer mom who read it (who doesn't know her at all) said, "It was the most childish, hate-filled, personal attack I have ever seen!" To use the language she so publically did (she utilizes no privacy settings) and to claim that she was, at the same time, taking a stand for Christ made me (& everyone who talked to me about it) cringe. She played the "JB doesn't love Jesus" card: their youth group starts at 6:45, and practice doesn't end until 7. Are you kidding me? If nothing could be worked out, (not that she allowed that opportunity,) is it not more rational to leave practice 15 minutes early every week, instead of publically losing control to try to make a point that was never the actual issue? It breaks my heart...

She's had our schedule since *MAY* (her son also played 7-on-7 with us) and just brought this up, after we were two full weeks into practice & everyone else on the team already built their fall schedules around it. To have her create this much drama simply b/c she couldn't have been bothered to read the schedule & say something back in May? Or even June or July? Before the rest of the team all built their fall schedules around this? And to blow up at least two friendships publically over it? Before talking it out like she initially asked? I am still stunned... (For the record, there was an option for cheer practice to be on Wednesdays, too. I asked ALL the parents including her to tell me if anyone had conflicts, and SHE SAID NOTHING back then in July re: Wednesdays, either. *sigh*)

The true kicker is that JB WAS TOTALLY WILLING to work something out and maybe even change the Wednesday practices, if the rest of the team would be on board, (not just changing for one person out of 18,) but now? No one wants to work with someone who acts like a bully. And the saddest part of all this is that I WAS ON HER SIDE RE: WEDNESDAY PRACTICES!!!!! (That's always been a church night to me, even though our current church offers stuff randomly all week instead and doesn't have Wednesday night supper.) JB & I had been talking for several weeks about how & if it would be worth it to potentially change the day, (but so many players have conflicts on other days.) If she would have come to me as the friend I really thought she was and said, "Hey, can you help me talk to your husband about this? It's really important to us," I would have been her biggest champion. I was already on her side. She blew herself up with an embarrassingly hateful public personal attack, has lost several friendships so far over it, has made herself look crazy in the eyes of many of our mutual friends, and has cheated her son out of something he's not only good at but that he loves. All to have a grade-school hissy fit. I still can't shake how hurtful this has been.

We have poured everything we have into this football team and cheer squad - JB digging out of a huge hole created by the awful coach last year, and me completely from scratch. For someone we thought was a close friend to publically slam JB and question our faith by using such rude words, instead of talking it out (or at least trying to first) like a rational adult makes my head spin and my heart ache.

Needless to say, she pulled her son from the team. She hasn't had the decency to tell me she's also pulling her two girls from the cheer squad; but I know that she is, b/c the mom of the one friend they recruited to cheer with them finally emailed today (after just not showing up for a week) saying she was quitting, too, b/c of this mom. How sad. Her daughter was really precious. (They don't get a refund from the league either; I don't know that I'd give up having invested that much $$$ for someone else's embarrassing debacle.)

To say I've taken all of this pretty personally is painfully obvious. :-P I've just never been through a public attack on my family, esp. not at the hands of a friend, and ESP. not when we've been up to our eyeballs for months working to make this be something stellar.

BUT, as always, God is working it out for our good! [Romans 8:28] B/c her FB profile is public, all of my friends (even who don't know her) saw what she posted, and the way they leapt to our defense was one of the most faith-affirming experiences I've ever had! I was bowled over. The amazing words my friends shared helped heal the stab wounds this former friend had left in my heart. They all kept posting, texting, private messaging, and emailing that anyone who knows me wouldn't question my love for Jesus, that it's reflected in my daily life...and honestly? Hearing that people see that kind of witness in me was worth the initial heartache.

Also, I'm left now with 17 girls instead of 20...and 17 was supposed to be the league cut off this year. It's not only easier on me, but it also seems a little...meant to be? While I still feel sick over this - not only the public slam but the loss of someone who I truly believed was my friend, I *lovelovelove* the affirmations God has given us, and I love that my other 17 girls are passionate about our squad!

Our practice Tuesday night was shortened due to thunder (no rain) ...but over HALF of the squad stayed to hang out when they did *NOT* have to (I released everyone) & practiced our cheers under a safe portico! BURSTING WITH FALCONS CHEER PRIDE!

[Edited to add: the squad does not know about the altercation. The two other cheer moms who are also football moms (& my FB friends) do, but I didn't bring anyone else into this last week. I didn't want to poison our squad with negativity, and in case the ex-friend's girls *did* keep cheering, I didn't want anyone (but me) feeling that mom's presence as toxic. Protecting those girls is priority #1. Even Will & Annelise have no idea what went down.]

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

First Day of 2nd & 4th

[4th & 2nd Grade]

It hadn't rained at our house in over a month...and the first 20-minute soaking shower we got was exactly during our walk on the 1st Day of School this Monday! :-D So thankful that we got to take our obligatory picture before the 1st sprinkle, that we also hadn't started walking yet, so we could easily drive, and that my kids both actually went to this same school last year, so they felt comfortable getting out in the car line instead of me walking them in 1st day.

They both had fine 1st days - nothing big to report, both like their teachers, and both are making all new friends in their classes.

Praying for a GREAT experience for ALL our precious children!!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Romanian Texas Visit

My precious friend, Amy, is originally from east Texas but has lived in Romania for over 15 years. (She went over as a missionary, met & married a Romanian man, and now lives there to raise their family.) She gets to come back to the US about once a year, and this is the THIRD TIME she's expended the effort & money to come visit *me* while she's in America! That's a big deal. Her husband got to come with Amy & the boys when we lived outside Chicago in December 2009, and she also came down to south Georgia February a year ago (2012). I can't tell you how much it means to have a friend who makes that kind of effort. ♥ ♥ ♥

Poor Amy wasn't feeling the greatest after all their travel, so we amended some grander plans for the weekend and stuck around our town...and, OF COURSE, we still had a joyous time!!!

The kids were all excited to play in our neighborhood water park pool:

And their other highlight:
What better way to show them American fun that they don't have in Romania and end summer vacay for our kids than w/ Chuck E Cheese? (Even if it's not *my* fave! ;-))

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Silhouetted Spirit

I haven't posted any Silhouette projects in AGES! Did I even tell y'all I got the newer Cameo model earlier this year? [My Silhouette SD broke right before Christmas - not due to poor machine quality, but due to my stupidity of running it on a table edge & having it fall to its doom after it slightly shook itself off the ledge. Yeeeeah... But I saved my Zumba instructor earnings & replaced it (for $70 less than MSRP ;-)) with the bigger, better model! SUCH a positive upgrade!!!]

So my latests:

I hope my sweet cheerleaders love their megaphones & water bottles! Will & Sis are excited for their new bento lunch boxes for school. I also Silhouetted us a new napkin holder for our kitchen, too, with our dual monogram that I designed. :-)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Texas All-Star Readers

SUPER PROUD of my two Texas all-star readers!!! They both read 20 books (all of Will's were b/t 150 & 300 pages!) and earned their trophies. ...And now they get their TV & Wii turned back on in the playroom (unplugged since June until they both earned these trophies ;-))

Will's favorite book was Secrets of Shakespeare’s Grave. Annelise's were The Berenstain Bears Hurry to Help and the first eight Magic Treehouses.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Meet the Teacher 2013

We had "Meet the Teacher" last night at the kids' school! We don't really know anything about them, but Annelise's teacher seems bubbly fun & a lot! :-P :-D Will's teacher has a son named Will who started college yesterday, and she said she's never had a Will in her class, so our Will can be her new Will. :-) Both kids are actually EXCITED about their new classes = YAY!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lilly Chagrin

Last year, the Lilly Pulitzer (my fave designer brand EVEREVEREVER) Endless Summer Sale took me by surprise. I missed the opening morning, but I still found great buys...twice! This year? I was READY! I even had two days notice to churn over it, thanks to FB. :-D ;-) :-P

Honestly, I wasn't too hurried this morning; I mean, I was a day late last year and found awesome I took my time before teaching Zumba. BAD MOVE!!! I only gave myself 20 minutes (thinking I was being smart, giving myself a built-in Zumba curfew) ...but the site kept crashing. And what's worse? I actually DID get to see four AMAZING DRESSES at AMAZING PRICES that I reallyreallyreally wanted! I tried to put them in my online tote bag (shopping cart) for fear they'd be gone when I could get back home over 3 hours later, but the site wouldn't let me check out! :'( [I'm not the only Lilly lover who experienced these woes; their poor FB wall was lit up with ladies losing their lids. :-P :-D] They apologized & thanked us all for overloading their system...but I still lost all four dresses. Wah wah. I know it's stupid to mourn over clothes I can absolutely do without #firstworldproblems ;-) but I hate that I saw those were really available at one point, and I missed them.

Did I get anything when I got home this afternoon?


The Kaley Dress in Pansy Purple Boat Party Stripe:

The Cassie Dress in Pretty Pink Dot Dot Dot:

Both $30 down from $100.

They are both what I've been looking for - dresses w/ sleeves that I can wear here year-round. Practical, and no more than I'd pay at Old Navy but for Lilly brand. I am happy with them.

...But they *don't* sport a signature Lilly print. That's my only reservation. The amazing prints are *THE* thing I love about Lilly. I'm trying really hard now to forget seeing that Cassie Dress this morning in "Sand Bar Blue Spike The Punch"...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Saturday Morning Brunch

Our last lazy summer Saturday brunch morning...

...before entertaining houseguests every other week for six weeks (what?! no one ever comes to see us!!! :-D) and giving our all at football every Saturday until Thanksgiving week.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Practice Priorities

We're officially two weeks into serious football & cheer practice, (even though we've been conditioning & having clinics since the 2nd week of July.) It's going great! My girls have already learned 17 cheers and a halftime dance!!! And JB is so pleased with the amount of raw talent he has in his players, he's even having a hard time deciding on position assignments, b/c there are so many options!

I won't lie, though, and say everything's been 100% perfect [tiny rant warning ;-)] - it's hard not to take it like a slap in the face when people are late to practice or skip altogether to take impromptu vacays; but I've also learned in life, most people don't take commitments as seriously as we do. [When we join a sport, class, group, or team, we DO NOT miss. We don't skip b/c we're "tired that day," and we will not sign up initially, if we are going to miss multiple events. I can't tell you how many people around here signed up for swim team (daily May-June) even though they were also playing another sport AND going on vacay when school got out, thus missing half the meets. We would NEVER. (And coupled with spring football, that's why we didn't.) We are just very serious about showing up to everything when we have made a commitment to join something ...and I admit, JB & I both have already swallowed a lot of irritation re: other families who very obviously don't hold that same value.]

*BUT* I've found a way for cheer to make the girls responsible for the material they miss w/o wasting the precious time of the girls who ARE there. Thank you, YouTube! I have someone film every cheer & dance I teach, I type out & email all the words & motions, and if you're not at practice, you learn it on your own at home. It's not like we're missing half the squad each day; but we have 20 girls, and there are always 3-5 gone, which makes it hard for everyone to know their places. They are always different girls who are gone, too, so if I waited to have everyone learn it together with me in person before moving on, we'd never have progressed. [Poor football - this is NOT an option for them; if you have one guy missing, you cannot run the play correctly. Period.] So, welcome to the Falcons Cheer channel! (If you're a coach or cheerleader, feel free to use our stuff! And let me know if you have any to share, as well!)

Closing with a pic of the boys last night. We have our cheer practice up closer to the tree line, but we finished first last night. (Yes, we avoided those storms around us...but just barely!)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Fondant Angry Birds Football Cake & Will's 9th Bday Party

The highlight of Will's 9th bday party on Saturday was...THE CAKE! (Which makes this mama feel like I scored BIG! :-)) I had been thinking about it for ages, and I have to say, I am THRILLED by how well it turned out!!!

I started earlier in the week with a plain box of Wilton white fondant ($7.49 - 40% off coupon = $4.53) and colored each different portion myself. (White fondant + food coloring in a ziplock = no stain on my hands!) I've always been a bit intimidated by fondant, but I'm one of the few people on earth who LOVES the taste of it :-D so I was determined to try, (b/c I'd happily eat the failures! ;-)) But I didn't HAVE any failures! It was so easy!

[Move over, Cake Boss ;-)]

The day before the party, I baked the cakes: one red velvet in my trusty football pan (I've used this thing for 12 years! My fave!) and one chocolate in a 9x13 baking dish. I iced the 9x13 green to look like a field [thank you, Mommy, for this idea to make it bigger (instead of just having the football cake) to feed more people!] and I iced the red velvet with chocolate, of course. I used the plain white fondant (I still had at least a third of the box left after making the Angry Birds) to do the football laces & stripes. I rolled the laces with my hands, like making play dough snakes, :-P and I got the two stripes thin & wide with a rolling pin.

I waited until party time to place the birds on the cake, and it came together GREAT:

My pleased (& gorgeous ;-)) 9 year old!

Happy birthday, Will!

The other MVP of this party (really the #1 MVP, the cake was just flashier ;-)) was DADDY! JB grilled out for all of us. It was HOT. (It's Texas in August, people. :-D) We had the party at the outdoor covered pavilion around the corner from our house beside one of our neighborhood pools, and there's a huge grill there. Problem? Someone had gotten a basketball stuck in the flue. (What? How? Who knows... :-P) But JB made it work and still grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, & Italian sausage for everyone. :-)

One of the parents thanked us for "having an old school birthday party." I love that. :-) I'm not about breaking the bank, trying to out-do the Joneses. The kids had so much fun playing football, eating special cake, and then swimming in the pool together; everyone was satisfied and, as parties go, it was really relaxed (well, once JB got that grill going. ;-))

Friday, August 9, 2013

Will at NINE!

Will turned NINE years old this Tuesday! NINE. I love his amazing heart, how perceptive he is re: others' feelings, and how much team spirit he has for whatever he's involved with.

Grandma & Grandpa set him up just right for school:

And we went to lunch on Tuesday with Will's BFF from school & his family to Will's current favorite restaurant, Phoenicia. (DELISH shawarma, kibbe, cucumber salad, bulgar pilaf, Athenian pasta salad, pita, and the MOST AMAZING cheese puff that I don't even have words to describe... Not to mention gelato & baklava desserts to blow your mind!)

Here's Will's annual favorites list. (I love seeing how it changes, year to year!)

Favorite food: wings - plain, no sauce or seasoning, with ranch [stunned! over pizza! over mussels!]
Favorite snack: caramel rice cakes with peanut butter
Favorite song: "Eye On It" by TobyMac & "Harlem Shake" ("Gangnam Style" was #1 a good portion of his last year ;-))
Favorite sport: football (tackle, not 7-on-7)
Favorite sports star: Julio Jones (NFL Falcons) & Kyle Busch (NASCAR)
Favorite subject: math
Favorite show: Garfield & Slugterra
Favorite movie: Wreck It Ralph
Favorite toy: iPod during the day, stuffed animals to snuggle at night
Favorite app: Minecraft
Favorite computer game: Poptropica
Favorite thing to do as a family: all watching football together & riding bikes with Daddy to Mr. Donut on the weekends
Favorite Wii game: Madden NFL
Obsessed with: Falcons football
Future job: NFL star
Favorite number: infinity
Favorite board game: Memoir '44 (& Ticket to Ride all this last year)
Favorite trip: Tweetsie [He actually drove the train this year for 500 ft :-D]
Favorite books: Garfield series, The Odd Squad: Bully Bait, Secret of Shakespeare's Grave

Football Kick-Off Barbeque

We had a kick-off barbeque last Sunday for our football & cheer squads. I *LOVE* that our team likes to get together and acts like a family! Dream come true...

Some of the team:
[Will open arms down in the pool, Sis purple swim shirt under the flag]


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cheer Camp 2013

Saturday morning we had our 2013 Cheer Camp. It was only a couple hours...but they wore. me. out. I had 15 of our 19 16 of our 20 girls there, pretty much on my own. So thankful a couple parents w/ some experience came over to help me spot during the stunt portion! 16 girls all yelling, "Can I fly now? I want to be a flyer! Someone lift me up!" is...insane. :-P

BTW - did you notice my squad number changed, AGAIN? The cheer director came up to me & said, "Ummm, you're not going to believe this, but you have one more." Whaaat? She's the sister of a player, so she has to come to our squad. (If she weren't a player's sister, she'd go to a less-full squad; but they're making another exception. Yay? ;-) They make exceptions for cheerleaders, but not football players (why we got spilt up last year) since too many players = not enough playing time, while everyone can still cheer.) TWENTY, y'all. TWENTY. Jaw = floor.

Jaw = up. Hands on hips. Smiles on lips. ;-)

So at camp, they learned 3 basic jumps:
toe touch (more like a spread eagle at this age)

& herkie. (Herkies are my fave. :-P)

Then we played "Cheerleader Says" (like "Simon Says") with cheer arms: high V, low V, daggers, touchdown, right/left L, K, & diagonals, T, broken T, bow and arrow, etc.

We finished with stunting. B/c we have sooo many littles, and we cheer out on a hard field instead of on a safe, springy, cheer gym floor, we will NOT be doing any stunts where the girls' feet are cradle-held to have them stand up. I'm not up for that liability; I think it's too unstable, and I don't trust these girls w/o more training than just this one camp. We'll do:

[stunt pics from Cheerleading Info Center]

pony mounts:

and thigh stands:


L stand

hitch variation

hanging stag

They can also do liberties w/ high V's or heel stretches when flying in a single thigh stand (like the L and hitch, but w/o the spot/leg holder on the right.)

So that was camp. I had one crier who wanted mommy (she goes to daycare, so I got her to stop by telling her to pretend this was daycare & that mommy would pick her up in just a bit; score = me!) and three hot messes who wouldn't pay attention :-P ; but with this many girls & this many littles, I think 3/4ths being awesome is pretty good. :-D

Here we are! (Or, well, 2/3rds of the squad! Yep - only 2/3rds...)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Rock Wall, School Supplies, Smile Awards

THIS is what I saw when I walked out of my Zumba studio on Wednesday:

My girl ringing the bell at the top!!! (My studio is on the 3rd floor of my gym; the 3-story rock wall is open to the stairwell, so I walked out, and this was the scene!) Two ladies from my class were watching her, totally floored! :-D [Excuse my embarrassing squeals...they're my right as a mother. ;-) Also weird to hear: I tend to really neutralize my Southern accent when I'm not talking to fellow Southerners. It's completely involuntary - it just happens. (I actually hate that I do it, but I can't stop myself - esp. when I'm talking to people for whom English is a 2nd language; both of my Zumba ladies you hear beside me are South American.) I blame it on my growing up in theatre and always needing to be clearly understood onstage.]

On Thursday, we bought the kids' annual school supplies. (We got everything except for the 12"x18" construction paper.) I looove doing this shopping trip!!!! It's such a fun scavenger hunt!!! (I know some people hate it & think I'm nuts; it's ok - I hate cleaning my house & think people who obsess about that are nuts. :-D ;-)) Every grade at every school here has a different list, so some years are cheaper than others. 2nd is cheaper than 4th this year. You can order school supply packages through the school that are completely pre-made for you...but I would never, b/c 1) they're more $$$, 2) I looove school supply shopping, and 3) I do actually have the time to do it w/ the kids. Pre-order this year for 2nd was $53.86, 4th was $66.58. I got both kids' supplies for about $80 total, instead.

We split it all up and packed it away in the closet (b/c school doesn't start here for over 3 weeks! ;-)) on Friday:

Annelise CANNOT WAIT!!!!! not ready for summer to end...ever. ;-)

The kids also had their 6-month dental cleanings on Friday...and they were both SOOOO EXCITED!!! BLESS THEM!!!!!! They looove the dentist! Oh, how I pray that lasts. They surely don't get it from me. :-/ I was also STUNNED when they both got "Smile Awards" = no cavities!!! (Even no-enamel-like-her-mommy Annelise!!!!!!) Thank you, Lord. This has always been such a dismal point of woe for me, so I will seriously revel in every clear visit my kids get!