Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Why Competition (All Star) Cheer?

We're diving in! But how did we come to such a huge decision affecting our whole family?

Why now, age-wise? Annelise is old enough to 1) ask to do it, 2) understand the cost & that it will mean we can't do other things she'll want to do, and 3) understand & be able to handle the more intense schedule. She did a trial class 3 years ago; I was overwhelmed by the parents packet I read while waiting...and I thanked God when we left that her impression was, "Eh. Not really for me." She was not ready for that; she wanted to try so many other things, and I certainly didn't want to pour money into an expensive experiment. Now that she's gotten to try everything she's been curious about, she's made the informed choice that tumbling & cheer stunting are what she loves best; she's not getting enough at her tumbling gym (been there 3.5 sweet years; worked with 4 different, great coaches; but she's plateaued) and she won't get enough stunting in my cheer program alone. (I'm not trained in level 2+ stunts, & I can't force my rec squad to fully train like All Stars, when that's not what they signed up for. (I already push them harder than any other squad in our rec league! :-D ;-)) Ever since she got a real taste when we upped our stunt game this fall and cheered with U of H in January, she has been clear that she wants this, and she's ready. I feel good that she's going in already having her back handspring (a level 2 skill) and confidence flying in extensions. I think her experience will start her out on a stronger path, and I know it makes JB & I feel better that she understands what she's getting into.

Why now, time-wise? Competition (All Star) Cheer is year-round, but tryouts for the entire next year are the beginning of April. If we held off, that's a whole nother year she would have to wait. They set practice groups based on April tryouts and then set the teams for the year toward the end of May based on the practice groups. You bond & work with your team all summer & fall, compete late fall & winter, and start it all over, again, next tryouts. This is the perfect time to not only follow her talent, but to also keep the door open for her possibly cheering in junior high & high school. (School squads here won't seriously look at girls without All Star experience. She may want to just stick with All Star when the time comes in 2 years, but at least now she'll have a true chance, if she wants it. (Yes, I know: the cheer world is NOTHING like when we were growing up! I'd never make it these days!!! :-P))

How did you pick which cheer gym? We're lucky(?! or cursed ;-)) that All Star Cheer is so big here. We have 3 major options from which to choose. One is huge; two are smaller. The huge one is one of five Houston-area locations; they have an amazing reputation and several World Championships. Seems like the obvious excellent choice...but not now. If she eventually gets to level 4 or 5, maybe that's where we'd go; but she's just starting out. Because of its big name, that gym is a revolving door of thousands of girls; if we're investing this much $$$, I want to be somewhere everyone knows our names. Between the two smaller cheer gyms, one has the reputation of being "the beginners gym" & the other travels to tons of competitions further away (Vegas, Disney, etc.) We are beginners, and I am cheap - wanting to spend as little on competition travel as possible. :-P Decision made! We also have 3 friends at the gym we picked, and I made sure to get all the insider info from them ahead of time, before ever letting Annelise know we considered this a real possibility. ;-)

She went twice last week for pre-tryout boot camp to see what it was like. It was HARD. She has her back handspring (level 2), but she doesn't yet have the simpler back walkover. She chose to practice with the level 2 group, anyway (I was proud of her for that!) ...and she crumpled down over & over & over again on the back walkovers. I saw her crying from across gym, wiping her face each time...but she did not come over to me, and she NEVER stopped trying. That sealed the deal: she refused to quit, and she came out saying: "I loved it! Everyone was so encouraging! The coach kept helping me like this, and the one time I got it, everyone clapped for me. Everyone was just so encouraging! I met some really nice girls." She kept saying "encouraging" - THAT is what I want for my kid. We're willfully entering the world of all star child competition, where shows like Dance Moms scare the stuffing out of me, and to hear her go on & on about how wonderful the people & program are - even when it's not easy for her? I know we're doing the right thing in the right place. :-)

She'll continue boot camp this week, and her official tryout is Sunday afternoon, April 3rd. It's not an "if you make it" thing, it's "where you make it," so more of an evaluation for team placement. Here we go, y'all!!!

PS - tasteful bonus: this gym's competition uniforms aren't crop tops!!! They're full coverage = extra confirmation! :-D Practice unis are sports bras & shorts (so standard :-/) but that's not out in public, and they also must wear warmups off the mat. :-)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Peepshi + Cascarones = Easter 2016

Cascarones in our Easter morning backyard egg hunt and Peepshi (our annual Easter candy "sushi" making with krispy treat "rice")

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Lucky Fig

Annelise & I got to royally geek out this week like the dorky, food-TV-obsessed girls we are! The ├╝ber nice Italian guy, Luca, who won MasterChef, lives here now, and we got to visit his gourmet food truck, The Lucky Fig, on Tuesday in between tumble & yoga - it. was. awesome. Sausage arancini (risotto balls) & this incredible tangy roasted cauliflower/pine nut side. Crushed that he ran out of polenta fries with Taleggio sauce one person in front of us, but next time... He made a quiet comment to his sous about "the beautiful ladies' order" & Annelise almost burst. :-D "Mom! He called us beautiful!" :-P ❤️ Can't wait to try more, esp. the polenta fries, gnocchi, & panettone bread pudding!!!

One other little food adventure worth documenting for posterity: the kids wanted the newly-opened, delish MOD Pizza last Thursday, (Spring Break lunch,) so I told them SURE - as long as we walked there & back. Will whined...but not enough to give up beloved pizza!!! :-P It's only ~1.5 miles away, all flower- & tree-lined sidewalks. Lovely!!! And pizza w/o lazy spring break guilt! :-D

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Radiant Orchid Hair

I did it!!! Check out my Ion Radiant Orchid hair! ❤️ It's a bit less pink/more purple in real life - two big understreaks, flipped out for max viewing here. I can hide it more, if I feel like it...but I don't think I will!!! It's totally perfect - enough to be fun, without looking like I'm having a 1/3-life crisis! :-D

The craziest part? I did this last Saturday afternoon...and ALMOST NO ONE has noticed!!! It's soooo not a big deal. In most light & against most of my clothes, it just doesn't stand out much. The whole reason I chose this pinkish purple instead of a pure purple is b/c the darker purple last summer just looked like lowlights. These actually look like lowlights, too, but I still love it! I need to get Annelise to take pics of my hair braided - that looks awesome!!!

No, I didn't pre-lighten the hair at all - I figure, whatever shows up with my blonde is what I get. ;-) It's "semi-permanent" so I'm expecting it to last a while. Annelise is dying for me to do her tips. I definitely will this summer, but I'm not sure she can get away with it during school - they have a "no distracting hair" policy. :-P

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Bluebonnets 2016

We didn't get any family bluebonnet pics last year, and I couldn't bear to miss, again, this year, too! It's definitely not the menfolk's fave activity, but they placate me...and Will ends up liking finding them! They bloomed a bit early this year, so we got to take advantage of a spring break day for a quick trek to the closest reported thick patch. (I find the best locations each year via Bluebonnet Love. My fam is not up for driving 30 minutes to a sparse field. :-P) This year's was at the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site:

And a little fun with Stephen F Austin's statue on the way out... ;-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What's Up With...

*What's up with cheer?
Registration has officially opened for the cheer program I run with our youth football league. Let the barrage of crazy phone calls & late-night emails commence from now through mid-August! :-P At least this year, I've gotten to start out with more complete, accurate info online, so maybe that will stem some of the tide...although I'm not holding my breath. ;-) I *am* excited to truly get going, again, though.

Some of y'all asked after the last post: yes, Annelise & I will definitely stay doing this program, as well, even if(when?!) she also does competition cheer. That's pretty standard with most 5th & 6th grade girls in our program who are serious about cheer. The actual competition season actually begins right after our football season ends, so there wouldn't be Saturday game/meet conflicts, and since I'm the coach, I would schedule our squad practices around her comp ones. I think everyone may also be pleasantly surprised to have me take our intensity down a notch - if she's getting the comp training, I would make our rec squad a bit less hard core; I refuse to do that now, though, b/c I'm the only cheer training she's getting.

*What's up with Zumba?
Keeping my classes going strong! Here we are a couple weeks ago on the last day for one of my students before she was transferred back to Indonesia for her job:

And here this past Wednesday wishing swift healing for one of my most loyal members who blew out her knee playing soccer and had to have major reconstructive surgery last Thursday. :'( It was a complete success, though, and she is a tremendous athlete, so pray for her to be able to come back quicker than the 6-month estimate!

*What's up with basketball ending?
We had Will's team party last Tuesday night:
His two coaches were stellar (& we speak with years now of 1st hand knowledge re: how much a youth coach has to invest to give a quality experience; our bar is set HIGH.) So thankful for this 2016 Mustangs team!!! I can't believe how much I'm actually going to miss something that's *not* football!

And how nice is his pro pic? *love*

*What else is up with each kid?
I got to be a shark for the day at Will's junior high last Thursday! (Like on the show Shark Tank, judging 6th grade invention presentations.) I love that he loves having me volunteer there!

Annelise & I finally took advantage of the vast array of nature trails in our gianormous neighborhood. We did 2.5 miles Saturday, 2 miles Sunday morning, and then dragged Will & Bonnie out for another 1.5 miles Sunday evening. (I need to get moving more on non-gym days!) I thank God for Texas and 80° bliss every day!!!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Singing Blakes & Competition?

Will had his spring choir concert on Thursday. I'm so glad he actually enjoys choir! It's not just a "stupid class" he has to slug through - he's learning a lot of music theory, and he cares about doing well. :-) He has even chosen to stay in choir for 7th grade! (Disclaimer: it's not his *FAVE* class, but as an arts elective, he doesn't hate it. :-P He doesn't want to do art, theatre, or band, instead. :-D)

He's in the middle row, 2nd in from the right:

"Little Birch Tree"

"Old Dan Tucker"

I also got to sing in church, again, this Sunday - a beautiful song called "Ever Be"

Annelise has been singing a lot lately, too, rehearsing with her Koalas On Stage afterschool musical theatre group once a week. (They don't have a performance, though, until May. :-)) She's really enjoying it ...but last month she finally dropped the bomb I'd been wondering if she'd ever voice on her own: "I really want to do competition cheer."

I'm not surprised. She grew so much this year! I had no idea going into last fall's season that our squad's stunting would get so advanced, and she is such a natural - 100% fearless, and the perfect flyer form: 4th grade maturity in a 2nd grade-sized body. When she took a free competition trial a couple years ago, she wasn't overly impressed...but she couldn't do much, yet, then. Now that she is a solid tumbler and knows how to fly in stunts, she wants to get even better, and she misses flying so much in our youth league offseason. It's also a smart move, if she wants to cheer in junior high, b/c around here, they won't even consider girls who haven't cheered competitively. (That fact breaks my heart! It's one of the main reasons I'm working to raise the bar in our rec cheer program, but it still holds true.)

The only thing holding us back? It's not cheap. :-/ We'll have to see what we could do to work it out. Prayers appreciated for financial wisdom & provision all around in several unspoken situations re: loved ones!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Basketball 2016

It's hard to believe Will's basketball season just ended! :'( We were so blessed to have a solid team - no snotty ball hogs thinking they're better than anyone else - and excellent coaches who didn't coddle - not mean, but no nonsense, and quality skills.

Vs. the Owls

Vs. the Longhorns

Vs. the Bears

Annelise showing her home court spirit! (Will's team was the Mustangs, but they played their tournament games at Will's actual Junior High, whose mascot is the Bears. ;-))

Family spirit!