Friday, November 28, 2014

Feast

It was divine...


We feasted with our best football friends this Thanksgiving! We brought JB's signature Yukon Gold mashed potatoes; his egg noodles in chicken stock; my signature roasted diced sweet potatoes tossed with ginger/salt/pepper and mixed with dried cranberries & roasted/salted pumpkin seeds; my super-dark gingerbread/pumpkin pudding/cool whip trifle; and the kids' requisite jellied cranberry sauce in a can. ;-) They did the 22 lb. turkey, corn pudding, dressing [do you call it dressing or stuffing? I guess we had both: I call it dressing outside the bird and stuffing inside the bird :-P], green bean casserole, cheesy potatoes [yes, it was potato-overload, but we all have our fave must-have preparations! this was their son's ;-)], a cake, and two pies. Our other friends brought broccoli salad (LOOOVE! cold with bacon & sweet dressing!), jalapeño cornbread, and cookies. What are your must-have holiday dishes?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Party Time! Thankful + Team + Tree

We've had a lot to celebrate in the last week!

At our kids' school, they get two classroom parties a year: a Thankful Party now & then the other around Valentine's. Since I'm a Homeroom Parent, I get to run Annelise's parties. (I'm also one for Will's class, but 5th Grade doesn't do crafts & games - they've earned the tween right to all just hang out together & talk in the cafeteria for their party. ;-)) For Annelise's 3rd Grade class, we played pumpkin bowling (rolling pie pumpkins (balls) at toilet paper rolls (pins)), did a silly pumpkin decorating game, and made our own trail mix (rice chex, goldfish, marshmallows, pretzels, chocolate chips, & candy corn = must be nut-free.) I have to say, now that I am officially embarrassing to Will, I am SO THANKFUL that Annelise still thinks I'm the coolest mom EVER. :-D (Bonus points: she told me the night of the Thankful Party that all the kids in her class think I'm the nicest, too. I will take that unsolicited praise to heart...and reflect back on this in a few years when they all become too cool for me, too. ;-)) For now, how cute are they?! (& one with Will, b/c his party was over before hers, so he came to help for a few min.)

We also had our 2014 Falcons Football & Cheer End-of-Season Party:
So *NOW* this season is truly over...although in January I'm officially running to take over the entire cheer program for the whole League. WHAT?!?! :-P I know, right... :-D #sucker

Finally, we put up our Christmas tree! It's amazing how ridiculously happy this makes our household!!! ♥ ♥ ♥
Our tree always goes up the Saturday before Thanksgiving, except for last year, b/c we had football still (the season started later) & then we left after the game that day for Disney!!! ♥ [Awww, I can hardly believe that we were there a whole year ago! SUCH a FANTASTIC trip!!!]

When do you put up your tree? My mom will Grinch out anyone & everyone she can when it comes to Christmas décor before Thanksgiving, but I could not care less. :-P I will not accept that rain on my festive parade! I don't mind whenever anyone else likes to do it; we started putting ours up the Saturday before Thanksgiving the first year we were married, and it just suits us. Of course, you can't do that with a live tree, but I love my artificial (even though I grew up with real ones) simply b/c it lasts, is way cheaper (we're on year 4 with this 7.5 ft one we got for under $100), doesn't shed as much, and won't dry out & catch fire. :-D I agree with what my friend, Jackie, said re: why she has decorated now: then she's not rushing in December and never feels like "she's behind." It's just enjoyment. ♥ For me, having the tree up is holiday décor success! We don't do too much outside or all over the house, b/c 1) we don't entertain much, and 2) "it's just a rental." Even though we've been here for over 2 years now, we still don't ever feel like investing in more for this house, b/c it's not really ours. We have tons of grand plans for whenever it becomes feasible for us to buy, again, but for now, it's the tree & the nativity, and they make us happy. :-)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Go Texans!

JB & I had an absolute ball at the Texans NFL game Sunday with our friends, Mark & Laura! We tailgated, we had amazing seats, and even though the Texans lost, we still had fun. [& look: in the 1st pic you can see our leaves are starting to turn this week! Cheers for appropriately-timed fall! :-D]

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Beginning Basketball

Will had his very first organized basketball team practice of his life...and he actually rocked it, even though he's the only kid on the team who's never officially played. :-D The best part was the huge smile on his face after each shot! It's certainly a change of pace for JB & me (and our friend, Mark, who is JB's assistant football coach & whose son is also on Will's bball team) to just sit & watch practice, without running it! :-P Here's to being well-rounded until 7on7 football in the spring...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Trophy Day

Turf Bowl (youth Super Bowl) Sunday for our football league was this week. Even though we *justmissed* playing in the game, our whole team still showed up for our division to support our cheerleaders and get our trophies.

It was a long day for our fam: five divisions (2nd - 6th grades) = five championship games from before 8 AM to after 8 PM. (Since we're 5th grade, ours was 2nd to last, starting ~3:30.) JB was the announcer for EVERY GAME. I started out policing the entrance gate, but it was in a cooold wind tunnel...so I traded up to the press box to become Turf Bowl DJ!!!

When it was time for our Varsity division, I took a DJ break and met my girls down on the field:
They performed our 2014 Hello Cheer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and Texas Pledge to open the game with the other cheerleaders in our division. We then got to wait for our big halftime performance in the field house:

The girls looked amazing in their halftime dance, (if I can get a copy of the video, I'll post it,) and then it was trophy time, since we ended the season in 3rd place:

So proud of our Falcons Family! ♥ [And if you're sick to death of my football posts, there's only one more this season! ;-) Our team party is this Saturday. :-D]

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Off My Wall: Rockstar Style, Punctuality, & Love


Random shareworthies for the week on my mind and off my FB wall:

* I drove the kids up to the corner of school on a cold morning (Annelise = cold allergy¹) last week looking like a ROCKSTAR...And by that, I mean Steven Tyler: lavender/white zebra fleece pj pants, Burberry scarf, fur coat [it was a gift! (feeling the need to clarify why I own a fur coat in southeast Texas ;-))], fuchsia fingerless gloves, & my gold sequin fuzzy clogs:
HA!!!!! I owned it.

¹Annelise breaks out in red hives anywhere the cold hits her skin. It's a histamine reaction, so warming her up doesn't make them go away – it has to run its course – but getting her in the warmth stops them from getting any worse. So thankful she hasn't ever had any breathing problems associated directly with the hives, but I'm always watching for that.


* Felt like a rockstar insider at my fave local teahouse: I asked for a new bubble tea flavor I had in Chinatown...& they got it! (Ginger - but they're not putting it on the menu: it's secret special! ;-))
‪#‎bestcustomer‬ ‪#‎theyknowillbuyit


* No, You Are Not 'Running Late', You Are Rude And Selfish
I know it sounds harsh, but this shared article made me shout, "YEEEEESSSSSSSS!" I spend so much time debating back & forth what time to schedule things, based on when I think chronically late people will actually show. KILLS ME! Of course I'm late occasionally...but then I'm also texting you before we're supposed to meet, telling you I know I'm running behind - not 5 or 10 minutes after you've been sitting there waiting on me. When you're chronically late & it doesn't affect anyone else = whatever. But I STILL don't understand how - if, for instance - you ALWAYS show up between 8:15-8:25 for an 8:00 meeting, anyone could think that isn't rude. It is. If this is a set scheduled thing every week/twice a week/whatever, how are you not constantly adjusting until you get it right? My problem is with people who don't genuinely try to compensate, whose reasoning is, "Oh well. Late is just who I am." People who flippantly excuse themselves as "I just always run late" & consistently leave others sitting around, waiting for them to finally show up are the rudeness here.


* Net Neutrality Simply Explained: if you're reading this, you probably use the internet; and you NEED to know why net neutrality is vital.


* Yay for my alma mater, Davidson, besting my fall-back, Duke!


* 25 Things No One Tells You About Moving To Texas: love!!! :-D


* JB is truly my knight in shining armor! He came home between work & a board meeting last week to help unclog the kitchen sink disposal. (I dranoed but wasn't strong enough to super plunge. Take THAT, old bag salad that didn't want to die!)


* A family friend posted these TBT pics of my parents in Bermuda ~1976. ♥


* Thankful for TWO workout buddies who pushed me at barbell last week, for extra long time under the hot tub waterfall & in the steam room, for the BEST Costco samples (warm honey sunflower seed bread, bbq brisket, spiral-sliced ham on Hawaii bread, chicken & apple sausage, teriyaki meatball, mango probiotic drink, phyllo appetizers, vanilla roasted coconut, & choc chip cookies!!!), for BOGO chestnut praline lattes² at Sbux, for running into a BFF & chatting at Target (unexpected friend interactions MAKE MY DAY!), and for ending up finding almost ALL the stocking stuffers I need (what?!?! sooo not planned!)

²I don't ever usually drink any coffee drinks. If they weren't BOGO, I would've stuck with my chai, but I was happy to try something fun & different for once.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Rollercoaster November Start

I've been riding a bit of an emotional rollercoaster these two weeks.

Annelise & I narrowly avoided a huge wreck one car in front of us on the way to tumble last week. (Thanking God for brakes, for making it take 15 seconds longer to get out of the house so we weren't one position ahead at the light, for seat belts, for no one behind us so we didn't get plowed into from the back when we hit the brakes, & for angels holding us back!)

I'm heartbroken for three precious friends who ALL had to let their dogs go in the last week. (Bonnie isn't in bad shape, but she's 12.5 = scary to think...)

Bummed that our football season was cut a week short. (It's more than just a game for us; it's our ultimate family time all together.)

Our dryer just randomly died. (No electricity whatsoever; it just stopped mid-cycle & wouldn't start back.)

Annelise cracked the iPod & accidentally exploded a bubble tea all over inside my cheer bag this weekend.

I went blank & flubbed a step in the 2nd to last song in my Zumba class Monday. (I never miss steps! Thank goodness it was at the end & the members knew I knew what I was doing the REST of class.)

My awesome boss is moving soon for her promotion. (Thrilled for her, not for me. ;-))

Disappointed in several commitments not followed through on.

A nasty cold front has blown in (like deep winter temps!) and will stay put until the middle of next week. I thought I could escape seasonal affective disorder in Texas...but I'm already struggling - and it's not even Thanksgiving, yet! Come back, 68°F... #perfectfall

Came home Saturday, Monday, AND Tuesday to find Bonnie had accidents! WHAT?!?! (Tile floor is nice for not soaking it up, but it also spreads… Ugh. She hadn't had one in AGES! I hope it's not a sign of anything...) :'(

Topping it off: Bonnie also rolled in something nasty outside Tuesday that smelled so bad, I had to bathe her! This is a very rare, messy, dramatic event. *sigh*

Check that - it was rare...until it happened, again, Wednesday!!! :-O I went outside to try to locate whatever grossness she was into: she had a freaking bunny graveyard in the side yard!!!!!!! Three carcasses!!!!! Bones, fur = everywhere! I was beyond livid. And horrified. And disgusted. I made her nasty derrière stay outside until the kids got home to bathe her, again... It was like a horror movie set. :-P I'm not so upset at her natural hunting instincts (actually impressed she's getting so many in our completely fenced-in yard! At 12.5, I don't think she's actually gotten a single thing before in her life until this year!) But to roll in the decomposing nastiness and then run in the house all proud? No stinkin' way. In the 5 minutes between me last peeking at her outside and the kids coming home ( = bath time) B escaped through a brand new fence hole she had just created! (We've been here 2.5 yrs - 1st fence hole escape ever!) THANKING GOD for 2 random neighbor boys who, when I yelled her name out the backdoor, replied, "Your dog got out! But I see her right over here." Bless them. Poor Will had just accidentally dumped water on his pants, but he braved the icy wind, anyway, to jump our fence & bring her back with the leash. We bathed her & removed the stench of death from our home. When we finally sat down to rest & warm up...Annelise dumped her entire freshly-poured bowl of cereal all over the couch cover & blanket. (Did you see above that our dryer has died? Yeah...) I'm trusting that God allowed these vexations for me to share with y'all to make you laugh & be thankful you're not me right now. Numbers 11:17, right? Yay for friends sharing burdens! ;-) :-P :-D

Wet dog. Clean dog. Dog who should feel shame...but apparently does not.

Ready to let all the mess & heaviness go... Be gone! Enter joy!

Thankful for a dry spot in the parking deck on a rainy day, for a BFF who offered her Tiger Balm for my achy shoulders, for the amazing energy in my Zumba class the last two Wednesdays, for *NO* I-10 traffic, for sweet compliments, for bubble tea, for other people who HAVE followed through on commitments, for a rain break as I ran in & out of 2 grocery stores, for all green lights & getting beyond the high school 3 minutes before the school zone speed limit switched on. ;-)

I have a few Zumba coupons for free stuff that I'm supposed to give to my members. I almost forgot Wednesday, but I pulled one of my sweet faithful attendees over after class to let her choose...and she said I have no idea how much she needed this: a close relative of hers committed suicide over the weekend, and this simple kindness was a huge ray of joy in this rough week. ♥ Lord, help purposeful kindness be my default mode...

JB got to work from home one day, so we went out for Peruvian lunch! It was so fresh & delicious!!! Yay for a date day:

I'm also SO PROUD of my Mitey Mite division cheerleaders!!! (This is the whole 1st grade division I also direct; not my beloved Varsity Falcons squad that I coach.) For one of my MM Divisional Director jobs, I choreographed & taught every squad in the division a halftime dance to perform all together last Saturday at their MM Championship Game (which was right after our Falcons playoff game.) These young girls learned the entire dance in 20 minutes two weeks ago, remembered it *ALL* at rehearsal last week, and looked AMAZING on Saturday! They were such a pleasure to work with - so sweet, so EASY, so gratifying!

Saving the best for last: JB's birthday was this Sunday!!! ♥ We celebrated with sushi & hibachi dinner. I am so very thankful for this man who makes my dream life reality!!! ♥ ♥ ♥

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lost

We lost our epic playoff game this past Saturday. By ONE point. 7-6.

It's tough. It still stings. None of us can really believe our playing time is over.

Our season cut short by a week. The Turf Bowl is this coming Sunday. We will still be there to accept our 3rd place trophies at halftime after my cheerleaders do the halftime performance - which will be WONDERFUL! :-) - but yeah... To go down to our rivals, for it to be so close, and for us not to be able to do anything more about it until NEXT AUGUST feels like a punch in the gut.

Will is taking it the hardest. To be honest, I'm glad he cares so much. ♥ He values every extra second he gets with Daddy as his coach.

I know "it's *just* a game," ...but truly, it's so much more to us. It's our ultimate family time together. The days we practice, JB is home from work before the kids even get home from school, (not possible outside the season,) and we're all four united - growing & working together in pursuit of a common goal. Not just hanging out at home together; but outside, moving around, learning, making a positive impact in the lives of not only our own children, but almost 40 others, as well - some of whom don't have the most stable, easy lives at home. I'm not ready for it to be over, yet...

You'd think we'd be burned out. Nope. (Tired, YES. Over it, no. ;-))

My bonded squad looked so cute (literally ;-)) hanging out, waiting for the game to start:

Last action game shots from 2014... I love these kids. They have grown so very much:

Still excited for my girls' performance this coming Sunday, and I know somehow this loss will work out for our best...but I can't lie. I'm having a really hard time shaking it off & moving forward...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

50's Style on the 50th Day

Last week was the 50th Day of School, so Annelise and her friend, Madeline, rocked their 50's style! (No, Will wanted NO PART of slicked back hair. ;-))

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Secret Weapons

Every week I wonder, "How can I top our last halftime dance?" I mean, last week's stunt spectacular was already unprecedented in our league. :-) What would be better?

Check out THESE secret weapons!!!

I used the football players!!! :-D I've always wanted to, but I knew JB would never sign off on it. It wasn't until this week, when we knew we had the weakest opponent possible, that *HE* suggested it...and I pounced! It was a wonderful opportunity for my 3 oldest girls, b/c they are always the bases. They never get to fly, b/c none of the other girls can lift them. (Annelise & another little girl were the bookends, only b/c they were the first 2 other girls who got to practice that day.)

To my surprise, most of the boys were SUPER EXCITED to do this!!! I thought they'd be a little embarrassed = no way! They kept saying, "This is where we get famous!" :-D HA!!! A few didn't want to participate, which was completely fine - I only needed 11 of 20 boys...and no, Will was *not* one. :-O Why? He only wanted to hold up one particular girl (shhh! ;-)) and when that's not where he ended up in the formation, he bailed. Boooo! ;-) The others had a ball with it, though. They did not act silly - they were joyfully serious. They wanted to get this right and really took a lot of pride in their stunt!

During practice, one buddy wanted to show he was strong enough to hold me up. HA!

GAMETIME SATURDAY! It was our first playoff game. We should have had a bye this week, but it was a MUCH better experience that we got to play! It kept our heads in the game and prepped us for our whole playoff run.

#24 on the field, #1 in your hearts...

SECRET WEAPON STUNT TIME:



The girls were so closely bonded ♥, the stunt rocked, (the boys are begging to do it, again,) and WE WON 13-0!!!

Victory pizza:

So now, we have locked in 3rd place + trophies! (Only the top 4 teams in the league get trophies.) We have already bested last year's finish (4th place - which was a miracle in itself, seeing as we entered the playoffs seeded 5th against a dirty team that had beaten us twice in the regular season, & the year before, we had only won 1 game) and we are ready to fight for justice this coming week. Against our nemesis team. And flip the script, again. This time, instead of taking their 4th place trophies, we're going for the BIG ONE. Whoever wins our next game goes on to play in the Turf Bowl - our league championship game in a giant stadium with a jumbotron, instant replay, and hundreds of fans!

Ready.

Excited.

RISE UP!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Happy Halloween 2014

We reveled with both Annelise's and Will's friends for trick-or-treating this year. First, with Annelise's girlfriends (all of whom have little siblings; she's the only one with an older...which is no fun for Will at all in this group, save the little Ninja Turtle standing beside him, who thinks Will is the coolest guy alive on earth! I am so thankful for this little boy, who is the only reason Will doesn't completely mutiny over our get-togethers. ;-))
[They look so grown up here... ♥]

Off to Will's BFF's house - obviously this clan of boys was much more his style. ;-)

They were both so creative [sarcasm!!!] with their costumes this year. :-P

What *IS* impressive is their Texas-sized candy haul:
To be fair, this is both Will's (above Annelise's arm & giant pixie stick) and hers (below) together...but it's still a TON!!! We use a substantial portion every year to decorate our gingerbread houses (in about a month) so I'm not freaking out over it. :-D

Monday, November 3, 2014

Bonding Block

We had some inadvertent bonding issues this year in cheer, and to be honest, I didn't really see how divisive things were until the last few weeks; it left me feeling like I was grasping for some extra cohesion here at the end. I just assumed it wouldn't be an issue this year, with all our returners, but the girls & I talked about it together at practice: last year, they all sat together for water breaks & snack, but this year everyone scatters out to where their parents are sitting in separate groups. (The 6 new girls this year were recruited by 2 returning moms, so those additions have felt a bit cliquey - not on purpose, but nonetheless.) It's so hard then to get the girls back & ready to go; instead of everyone being close, I had to scream over to the parents for 2 minutes at every break. I have soooo many adorable pics of the girls hanging out & being casual together - sweet squad bonding - during games last year...and I had not a single one from this year. Everyone splits & isolates. :-( I wish I would've put my finger on it earlier, [I don't have an assistant this year (which truly is fine in every other aspect) so I haven't had an extra set of eyes as attuned to the girls,] but I resolved to change this pattern for what little time we have left. Our playoff run is going to be ALL ABOUT bonding! :-)

The girls are all sitting together, again, for breaks at practice & during games, and that alone has made ALL the difference in the world!!! ♥ Instead of hovering in their parents' friends groups, they are having a BLAST - giving each other piggyback rides, playing circle games like "Little Sally Walker", doing conga lines(!!! :-D) & massage trains... Exactly as they SHOULD be!!! ♥ It's instantly back to the closeness of last year...and my heart is filled with so much gratitude! I couldn't bear the thought of ending the year without the BEST experiences possible!!! This was a simple thing, but a HUGE thing that has restored so much joy.

Sunset pony sits during a break, just to have fun:

We also bonded over a sick teammate: last week one of our girls came down with acute pneumonia and is in the PICU at one of our local hospitals. [Lift her up in prayer!] We all signed a group picture frame for her, and we made up a cheer! I videoed & posted it on her mom's FB page, so she could see it in the hospital. ♥ Her mom cried-happy and said she watched it over & over and even quietly cheered along with us. :-)


Season saved.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Let It Go + Too Cool For School

I stopped by school on Friday to pick up Annelise's character pumpkin from the library display, because it was way too heavy for her to have to ride home with on her scooter. She did this project entirely by herself - another personal "let it go" motherhood triumph for me! ;-) I had other ideas, cleaner ideas, easier ideas... But she wanted to make this puppy (yep - it's a puppy), and this is how she wanted to do it. So I let it go & let her own it:

My visit coincided with their lunches, and since their lunchtimes overlap for 3 minutes, I got them together for a few:
Annelise still LOOOVES snuggling me at school - she had her arms wrapped around me the whole time & walked out of the cafeteria with arms outstretched, blowing me kisses. ...But I am officially "embarrassing" now to Will! ;-) "Omigosh, Mom! Don't look over at that table! Don't laugh like that. Don't turn around. You just have NO IDEA how it is in 5th grade..." :-D

(For the record, Will still held my hand when I volunteered at his science programs through last year, so I'm thankful I was cool for even THAT long! ;-))