Friday, November 22, 2013

Fourth Week of Thanks


That my gym was ranked #1 in the country for this 3rd quarter, so we were evaluated by national for the biggest award of the year Monday the 18th and Wednesday the 20th! I wasn't the least bit nervous about my teaching - I know my Zumba classes rock!!! - but I am so thankful for my precious FB friends who lifted up my prayer request: that more members are motivated to get up & come, that I don't flub the company mission & vision statements if quizzed by the auditor, and that God fills that studio with an extra measure of energy, excitement, & spirit! Pray that He uses my classes to not only keep blessing people, but that the magnitude of how He uses them to change lives is VERY apparent! [The auditors *did* come by my class, and they left beaming from ear-to-ear!!! Fingers crossed for our gym to win the national Artistry award!]

For such a blessed Tuesday morning, November 19th! The most relaxing Yin yoga class EVER, followed by Sbux with sweet friends, where the register was malfunctioning, so they gave me my venti 8-pump no-water chai for FREE!!! Got a blush-inducing compliment on my singing in church from another friend who randomly walked in, & on my way out, JB texted that he was done with work early, so we went out to a surprise lunch!!! Tried a new Colombian gem - delish!!!

That I got to volunteer for Will's Eureka science program at school on Wednesday the 20th after Zumba & we got to make oobleck (a colloid experiment) together:

...and then for having Will grab my arm & snuggle me in the middle of everyone during the closing portion of Eureka. ♥

For our pediatric dentist, Dr. Amy! Annelise had a check-up on Wednesday afternoon: she was done in 5 minutes, but it took 8, b/c they needed to FINISH HER MANICURE!!! This lady is a DREAM. She's no more $$$ than any other - totally covered on our dental insurance (for which I am also extremely thankful!) - but I can't even list all her amazing bonus stuff: no-shot fillings done painlessly w/ a laser instead of a drill, TVs w/ your choice of movies, a big family cleaning room so parents can be in w/ the kids if that makes them more comfortable, 20 pairs of funky fun sunglasses the kids can pick from to wear to shield their eyes from the bright overhead light, & of course the manicures for the girls!!! I have BEGGED her to take me on, too!!!!!!

That my heat transfer material arrived Wednesday, and I got our personalized Disney family shirts & Falcons jackets for the kids done Wednesday night:

That I didn't forget to get Will's hair cut Thursday the 21st! (Whew!!! I shudder to think of his unbuzzed head in Disney pics! I mean, check out that shaggy Eureka pic! ;-))

For Will rocking his 4th Grade Musical for three performances on Thursday!!!

That I didn't skip my strength class Friday morning, the 22nd, to stay home & pack. ;-)

For volunteering in Will's class for his Thankful Party, (& that I got to be at their school A LOT this week! :-D))

For an amazing BFF here who is not only taking care of our house and of Bonnie, but she packed a snack bag for the kids for our trip and included the sweetest card. ♥ QUALITY friendship!!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

4th Grade Musical

Today was Will's 4th Grade Musical at school...and it was WONDERFUL! They did a Broadway revue: "You Can't Stop the Beat" from Hairspray, "Seventy-Six Trombones" from The Music Man [I played Amaryllis in The Music Man over 20 years ago!], "I Whistle a Happy Tune" from The King and I, "One" from A Chorus Line, "For Good" from Wicked!, "Seasons of Love" from Rent, and "We Go Together" from Grease. As they rehearsed over the last month or so, Will would come home singing these songs, ask if I knew them, and then be floored when I spewed out every lyric! :-D

I was so proud of Will: he was right on beat with every motion - no hesitating to see what the next cue was; he knew his part and put his whole heart into his performance. I got weepy the first time I saw it this morning. ♥ [Bonus: the girl behind me in this pic thought I was Will's *SISTER* = bless her!!!!!]

JB came with us for the evening show after work tonight. (You can see I got Will's hair cut after school in between performances. ;-))

Playing around with football teammate, Sam:

I'm so thankful for this school, the dedication of the music teachers, and the fact that my kids get these opportunities. ♥

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Third Week of Thanks


To have had an hour to wander my beloved Trader Joe's after teaching Zumba on Monday, November 11th, chatting with other devotees, tasting extra samples that the staff opened for us, & discovering new gems! So excited Deep Dark Gingerbread Mix is back! Can't keep my spoon out of my new jar of Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter...

To be able to volunteer at the kids' school, like on Tuesday morning, November 12th.

For getting to feel like a rock star Tuesday afternoon as a fashion model for "Texas Is It!" (The lady who owns the company knows me from taking my Zumba class and asked if I would be willing to model their apparel in a photo shoot. Ummm, YES! :-D) I'll post pics whenever she releases them. I have this candid, though, from after my hat blew off in the swirling wind, and I climbed down those rocks to rescue it out of the pond :-P

It got bitter cold for 48 hours starting Tuesday night. I was so very, very thankful for my soft, warm blankets on that crazy cold night! Not taking for granted that there are people w/o this comfort. (& even though I despised the chill, I was MOST thankful that it was only 2 days of true cold here...unlike the other places we've lived, which have already gotten snow. So thankful to be snow-panic-attack-free!!!)

For big free smoothies from the LifeCafe at my gym on my Wednesday Zumba class!

For JB bringing me home the BEST brownie after work on Wednesday, as well!

For sharing a new friend's birthday lunch on Thursday, November 14th:

For getting motivated to make personalized Disney shirts for our upcoming family trip! (I'll post details about them as I finish; I had to special order the heat transfer material online, so it should be here Wednesday-ish for me to complete with my Silhouette.) I went into ultra shopping mode on Friday the 15th for the blank shirts - so thankful for my deals: got mine FREE w/ Kohl's Cash, got JB's for $5 at Walmart (ugh - I know, but they had what I needed), & the kids' for $2.50 each at Hobby Lobby. SCORE! I'm so glad that we're doing this - with as much as I like personalized stuff & cute family pics, I think I would have felt twinges of regret seeing other families there with them, had we not. Disney is one of the only kitschy places on earth to pull this look off. ;-) Plus, ours are cheaper than buying matching generic Disney shirts at a store there for $$$$$$$. :-D

For one of the greatest football wins I've ever been a part of Saturday morning.

For an early Thanksgiving meal we'd already planned for the afternoon of Saturday the 16th...but that was so much sweeter after the morning's gargantuan upset victory! Roasted sweet potatoes & cranberries dusted with ginger & sea salt, Yukon gold mashed potatoes, whole roasted chicken (b/c we didn't need a 14 lb. turkey for the 4 of us ;-)), etc. I even made my fam's fave pumpkin gingerbread trifle for dessert! Still bursting with joy & gratitude...

[Per request - pumpkin gingerbread trifle recipe: Bake a pan of gingerbread (preferably really dark & spicy! I use Trader Joe's Deep Dark Gingerbread Mix) & let it cool. Make a box of your fave vanilla pudding & let it set up. Stir a can of pumpkin purée into the set vanilla pudding and add your fave spices (pumpkin pie spice, cardamom, etc.) In a pretty glass bowl, (so you can see the layers :-)) crumble 1/3 of the gingerbread, top with 1/3 of the pumpkin pudding mixture, top that with 1/3 of a tub of cool whip or fresh whipped cream; repeat the layers two more times. It's best if you then refrigerate overnight!]

For the lingering glow of that win still on Sunday...

For *FREE* last minute NFL Texans tickets Sunday morning!!! :-O Literally last minute: like, hang up the phone and get in the car to drive to the stadium right away!
It was the kids' first NFL game ever, (and only my 2nd!!!) The seats were amazing (club level!) and we were so very thankful to be blessed with this opportunity...
[I knew we'd get more use out of last year's cheer uniform!]

...even if we *did* have to leave in the 3rd get to my cheer division's group cheer practice to learn our Turf Bowl dance. [I've mentioned before how seriously I take my coaching responsibilities. We were even going to turn these tickets down b/c of my practice, until our friend said they'd go totally unused otherwise. Seeing over half the game was SO WORTH it! Awesome experience...and good lesson to the kids & my squad re: not taking scheduled commitments lightly.]

I'm so proud & THANKFUL that almost our entire squad was there at this extra practice!!! Makes me feel better to have left that game. ;-) :-D

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Saturday, November 16th, 2013.

A date which will live in infamy.


Y'all, I don't know how explain what a MONUMENTAL DEAL today's youth football game was. Our team's first tackle football playoff game ever - in three years. Against the Cowboys - the dirtiest team in our division (players ejected EVERY WEEK for unsportsmanlike conduct! How on earth can they be OK with that being their "normal"?!?! SMH.) The same Cowboys who cheated their way to barely beating us for a medal at the 7-on-7 passing league playoff night back in May, (there were *no refs* that night. Insane, I know.) The same Cowboys we've already lost to twice this season, including our worst game of the year just LAST WEEK. What are the horrific chances we'd face those hooligans, again, first round of the playoffs...

But we did.

Breaking the run-through banner! GAME ON:

And we brought our A game!!! Our Falcons played harder & better than they've played any game all season. Or truly, EVER!!! Even when the Cowboys played dirty, we didn't bend to their mess. Will was lighting up the defense like he used to, and we were up 6-0 at halftime! When I crossed the field with my cheerleaders, (our cheerleaders switch sides at halftime to do one cheer for the other team & then go back to our home sides to do our halftime dances,) the other coach was flipping out: "We KNEW they were going to be better than they were last week!" ;-) :-D You better believe it, baby! :-D

BTW - our halftime dance? Best the cheerleaders have ever done, as well!!!

The middle stunts practicing for our halftime dance (Annelise flying on the left)

Our precious Falcons girls are even full of spirit when taking their post-dance halftime break!

The second half was sooooooo long. At the start of the 4th quarter, it was still 6-0. I wished it could just end then! :-P But the Cowboys scored & made their extra point, so we were down 6-7 and needed to fight. We did. 13-7.

Then on the last drive of the 4th, THEY SCORED! :-O It was like a nightmare. 13-13. If we held them, we'd go to overtime; it not, we'd lose by one point...

WE (& esp. Will Blake = defensive machine!) HELD THEM!!!

But then the agony of OVERTIME! (I honestly just wanted to pass out. If any of y'all have watched me freak out over a Redskins game on TV, trump that up exponentially when it's my son & my husband's coaching on the line!!!) We got the ball first. We had four downs to score... WE DID!!! And made our extra point!!!

But it's not sudden death - they got an equal four downs to try to score as well. We held one. We held two. They scored on three.

Heart. Floor. Gut. Punched.

If we could hold them from their extra point, we'd win! If not, more OT. At this point, let me note how proud I am that I was still coaching my cheerleaders, instead of being carried off on a stretcher. :-P ;-) Honestly, coaching cheer is SUCH a blessing, b/c I am a sideline-screaming mama, and it was a gift to "have" to focus on the girls, instead of 100% freaking out. :-D

It all came down to this last overtime play. We were all exhausted. The players, the coaches, the cheerleaders, the parents - we had all put every ounce of heart we had forth on that field. We prayed. (I prayed numerous time throughout the game!)

They snapped the ball for the extra point attempt. Guess which defensive Falcon flew in to take the runner down? WILL BLAKE!!!! (Along with awesome teammate, Preston! ;-))

OMIGOOOOOOSSSSSSHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FALCONS WIN OUR FIRST PLAYOFF GAME EVER! DEFEATING THE DIRTY FOES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-D They. Were. Stunned. STUNNED!!! And it was AWESOME! They completely took for granted that they were going to beat us. They came in cocky and freaked out when we went up first & didn't succumb to their *pinching our players (I know - what?!?!) & kicking our players in their helmets when they were down*!!! We played hard, never got discouraged (our biggest obstacle this year), and never, ever gave up! We deserved this huge upset win more than any other game, perhaps in our youth league's history.

Cheering us to victory! (Annelise flying with "FIGHT")

So not only did we vanquish a major foe, not only did good triumph, not only did these players get their first playoff victory ever, not only did JB get his coaching cred kicked up a few points ;-), but NOW WE ALL GET HUGE TROPHIES! :-D (Isn't that what's most important to the kids?! :-P ;-)) The top four teams in the league get trophies, so if you won today, that means your team (& cheer squad) will be presented with big trophies at halftime of the Turf Bowl (league Super Bowl on Dec. 7th), even if you lose next week and end up 3rd or 4th overall. The teams who lost today get nothing. Absolutely zilch.

Our entire household is still glowing.

Exhausted, but glowing. :-)

JB sent this to the team yesterday:

I told Will in the car on the way home that he will remember this day and this game for his entire life.
His first playoff win.
With *his dad* as his coach.
With his mom & sister cheering.
In overtime.
Against a huge rival.
With *him* essentially winning the game for us.

What do Falcons do? RISE UP!!!
(And now, play again NEXT WEEK!!! :-O :-D)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Second Week of Thanks


For a restful Sabbath Sunday, November 3rd.
For the Redskins Sunday football win. (Yes - I am actively thankful for this. If you've ever heard me yell at the TV during a Skins game, you understand how intensely valid this thanks this. Not kidding.)
For the time & motivation to catch up on two months & 13 pages of digital scrapbooking during football.

For adrenaline & dance endorphins to get me through teaching Zumba Monday morning, November 4th, while still feeling under the weather.
For precious class members whose energy & smiles lifted me up even more.
For the hot tub & steam room afterwards.
For the pouring rain turning to light drizzle just when I had to get in & out of the car.
For my kids' snuggles.

For creating a new bubble tea addict friend & sharing quality chat time with her Tuesday, November 5th.
That gas has been under $3 for over a month - $2.80's now.
For sleeping on fresh sheets.
For getting a surprise Shipley's donut delivered to my doorstep!
For picking up a present that I know will thrill its recipient.

For the most GORGEOUS walk to school Wednesday morning, November 6th, under warm, blue skies!
That I took a rare leap of faith to get on the tollway & avoided a big traffic jam - $1 well spent!
For getting to know another Zumba class member as a more personal friend.
For Costco samples of brie & pepper jelly on rosemary flatbread, sirloin beef tips, dark chocolate, & 3 Lärabars.
For taking an extra hour to run some errands for other people, b/c I know it will bless them!

For getting to watch my kids at Boosterthon on Thursday, November 7th.
For a stellar 2nd-annual-for-us Ladies Night Out at Ace Hardware with my BFF, Jen! The entire store - including their crazy cute boutique - was 20% off. I got a Mud Pie black & red houndstooth scarf (I'll be sporting on Falcons game days!) and new nuts & bolts to fix Annelise's megaphone. ;-) So many yummy dips, snacks, desserts, & sauces on sample!!!

For seeing a hot air balloon on the way to school with the kids Friday morning, November 8th = magical!
That the van smells AMAZING now after leaving my door prize (a holiday scent sachet) from Ladies Night in there. Never underestimate how powerfully a good scent can boost your mood!
That Bonnie Blue (our beagle :-)) snuggled up against my legs to keep me warm all night and again in the morning:
[Happiness is a warm beagle...]
For being able to go to strength class.
For getting quality time with Will on Early Dismissal Day while Annelise had a painting party! :-) We actually came home instead of eating out to have his fave lunch that Sis doesn't like: potstickers! Mmmmm! Also cooked our s'mores pizza from elementary school Spirit Night at Papa Murphy's for lunch dessert followed by couch snuggles! [Although it DID seem funny to chow on s'mores pizza while watching "The Biggest Loser" :-P (Hey, guilt-free! I went to strength class... ;-))]
That Annelise got to have that painting party with her school's art teachers:

For Falcons sunrise spirit earrrrrrly on Saturday, November 9th!
That it was JB's birthday!!! I am so proud to be married to this amazing man who loves me & our kids SO VERY MUCH, is an honorable coach & role model, and is giving me my dream life. ♥ ♥ ♥

That we got to spend Sunday, November 10th with good friends, sharing NFL football and Midway Barbeque to continue celebrating JB! ♥

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Our kids' school's PTA chose Boosterthon this year as their major fundraising event. The students get pledges (per lap or flat donation) and have a "fun run" during their normal P.E. time on Boosterthon Day...which was today.

Now honestly: running + fundraising = two things I utterly despise!!!!! If we would have had this in *my* elementary, I KNOW I would have been "sick" on Boosterthon Day. Oh, the dread!!! :-P But - thank you, Jesus! - my kids were totally fired up! :-D And you know what else? It was *FUN*! I volunteered to man the water station during 2nd & 4th grade, so I got to watch the whole thing. The gym was decked out with Boosterthon flags, the adults had poms to wave, the official Boosterthon host was really engaging & encouraging with the kids, there was an inflatable tunnel to run through at one end, and the whole thing was DJed to fun music. (OK, so maybe I would have made it back in the day running laps to awesome music in school. ;-))

The goal # of laps to complete was 35. (That's the max lap # donors will be charged who pledged per lap.) On the opposite side of the gym from my water station, other parent volunteers used sharpies to tick off the # of laps completed as each kid ran by on the back of their Boosterthon t-shirts. Will ended up running 52 (!!!) and Annelise did 40!

Will was moving so fast, I was lucky to get 2 action shots.

My fave is Annelise signaling "2 laps to go!" (top left)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

50's Style on the 50th Day

Many schools do this, and I would have absolutely eaten it up as a child: wearing 1950's-style outfits on the 50th day of school! My friends (yes, those twin friends ;-)) & I were talking about finding poodle skirts last week...when one of them said, "I think I can just make them for us." For really really real?!?! Yep. We bought the fabric, and she did! Genius!!! Her daughter was the cutest: she said all of the girls were "The Poodle Sisters" today. :-)

I had a poodle skirt when I was younger - it was my dance recital costume in 5th grade...and it was perhaps my most favorite costume I ever had...out of FIFTEEN YEARS of recitals! :-D

Sunday, November 3, 2013

First Week of Thanks

Every November, people feel compelled to start listing their thankfuls. I endeavor to actively share my thankfuls year-round, but I'd never begrudge something that gets more people in the thankful spirit!!! :-)

I started early. ;-) Thankful for:

Our football win Saturday, October 26th.

Getting to sing another gorgeous solo in church Sunday, October 27th. ("Waiting Here For You")

One of my 4th grade cheerleaders, who - when she had "What Do You Want To Be?" Day at school - went as me to be a cheer coach! :') Oh, my heart...

70°F Tuesday morning, the 29th (instead of 63°F the day before = Annelise broke out w/ her cold urticaria walking to school! At 63°F!!!! :-/ But so thankful to be in this climate as opposed to anywhere else we've lived for her); for a gorgeous morning for Yoga in the Park to start back; and for phở lunch w/ another sweet friend!

That even though I was 3 minutes late (storm traffic!) to the gym for the 1st time ever Wednesday, the 29th (I'm usually 20 minutes early!) I was able to call in fr/ the car, I didn't stress, & it was all good, b/c w/ Member Appreciation Week, everyone was enjoying the yummy free breakfast spread outside my studio and barely noticed I was slightly behind! Plus, there's no class right after mine, so we just went over time to get all 16 songs in...and then we ate MORE Member Appreciation food to refuel! Never underestimate how good a basic PB&J bagel can be...

Someone also bringing homemade pumpkin pie to share on Wednesday morning made with fresh pumpkins he roasted himself. Holy deliciousness... I *MORE* than refueled after Zumba!

My Thursday Yin yoga teacher saying he noticed I wasn't feeling 100%. It felt good to have someone whom I trust to lead my yoga practice actually notice that & say something. I woke up muscle-achy & w/ a sore throat. :-/ Yoga followed by a venti 8-pump no-water Sbux chai w/ sweet friends helped, though, for a bit. :-)

Halloween awesomeness!

Epsom salt baths. B/c by the time I got through cheer practice Friday night, November 1st, I was a shaky, achy mess. And that soaking bath really *did* help!

Saturday, November 2nd's football game not being until noon, (meaning we were there at 10:45 opposed to 6:55 AM when we have the 8:00 game, like last week & next week.) I needed that slower morning, still feeling sicky.
That, even though we lost, this was NOT our last game!

And finally, my husband bringing me bubble tea Saturday afternoon after football to help me feel better! ♥ ♥ ♥

Saturday, November 2, 2013

BEST Compliment EVER & Halloween 2013

I received one of the best compliments of my life on Halloween...

3 BFFs here (all moms of Annelise's friends) and I decided to have a pre-trick-or-treat get-together at one of their homes. #1 - b/c the girls wanted to play, and afterwards would be too late. #2 - we'd had two solid days of flooding rain (it was still pouring until 2 hours before our little shindig!) so just in case it didn't stop, we would still get to celebrate. (It did stop! Halloween miracle! And the streets dry out so fast here, which always surprises me, b/c it's still humid!) I group-texted them Thursday afternoon to ask if they were going to wear costumes, too, (y'all *KNOW* I can bust out a costume in less than a minute!!! :-D) but they said "nah", so I just put on my Redskins jersey to be a football fan...or look totally normal. ;-)

We went over and rang the doorbell. It took a long time for them to answer.

When they did...

...THEY WERE ALL *ME*!!!! :-D Pure hilarity!!!!!!

Crazy long blonde hair, monogram necklaces, work-out clothes, big sunglasses! [No Lilly Pulitzer or bubble tea, ;-) but the Zumba attire was totally accurate, and we had a different mango beverage. :-P]

Charles Caleb Colton said, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." I was absolutely flattered to pieces!!! ♥ ♥ ♥

All the kids:

[Annelise was a fairy princess (again ;-)) and Will was NASCAR driver Kyle Busch (again!)]

On the trail:

The haul: