Thursday, November 28, 2013

Picture of the Week - 11/28/2013

Happy Thanksgiving!
I saw a quote on Facebook this morning that I just loved...
"It isn't happy people who are thankful, it's thankful people who are happy."  ~ Country Craft House
That quote sums things up nicely for me.  I have so very much to be thankful for that I can't imagine being any happier. 
I hope you all had a fantastic day!  We had a great time visiting with my parents and sister's family and enjoying the wonderful meal my mom put together.  It's always a crazy time when the cousins are all together. 

Tomorrow, we're going to put on some Christmas music and pull out the tree.  I can't wait.  Fun!!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Picture of the Week - 11/21/2013

So...  are you guys tired of hearing me talk about football yet?  Too bad!  :)
We are still playing.  Yes, this is without a doubt the longest sports seasons we've ever been involved with.  The tryouts for this team were in April.  The team started practicing in July.  Early July.  And here it is the week before Thanksgiving and we're still practicing 3 times a week.  The biggest difference as the season goes on is that now the generators running the portable lights get cranked up even before practice starts!  Yep...  it's pretty serious!
And it's also pretty fun!
I could talk for hours about this year's football experience.  The goods and the not-so-much and the lessons learned.  It would be boring for everyone except Bob and my dad, so I will spare you most of those details.  What I will share is that the takeaways from this year go well beyond the (significant) improvement in football skills we've seen in Spencer.  And I will admit that this team has taught me a thing or too as well.
You might remember that I had a fear that Spencer, while easily one of the top players on every team he'd been on until this Paladins team, would struggle to keep up.  This has played itself out...  a bit.  This is a D1 team.  For anyone not familiar (and I know that's probably 98% of you out there), D1 is a step up (maybe two steps up...) from a recreational league.  That's why we travel.  The competition is better.  The coaching s BETTER.  The boys playing are more serious.  The skill set is better.  The whole thing is more...  intense.  And Spencer, while a good football player with excellent fundamentals, is not as good as the other kids on the team.  They are bigger* and faster and have played together longer. 
So Spence doesn't get much game time. 
And that is hard...  not gonna lie. 
We went through a few weeks as it became obvious that Spencer's game time was going to be extremely limited, questioning the decision to put him on this team.  The absolute last thing I wanted to do was to discourage him from wanting to play again.  This was a struggle for Bob and I - but as it turns out, it wasn't so much a struggle for Spencer.  He was having fun and learning every week.  He was making friends and enjoying being on a team that was winning.  It's fun to win.
As we approach the end of this season (still a few more weeks to go if we win on Saturday and get into the BIG Born to Compete State championship tournament) we've got a slightly new perspective.  And it's, frankly, a good lesson for lots of things in life.
Spencer is like Rudy.  And the quality of the starters on this team is raised when the bench is strong.  Spencer has gotten what we wanted out of this team.  Good coaching, quality instruction, and a very positive experience.  And he is learning that his job is to help his team win any way he can.  His job just doesn't happen to take place exclusively on Saturdays.  His real work happens 3 nights a week under the lights on a quiet practice field without fans.  His job doesn't come with glory.  He will never be named "player of the week". 
He's also learned that nothing in life is free.  That things you want will not be handed to you.  That if you want something, you need to work at it. 
After many discussions about what he wants to do next year, the jury is still out.  But there is one thing that's certain.  He WILL play football again.  He's having a blast and wants to keep going despite the sweltering summer practices and the frigid fall ones.  He wants to keep going even though his contributions this year have been limited to the scout team.  He wants to keep trying to win a starting position.  He wants to keep being a part of the team.  He wants to keep getting better because he knows that in the long run, that's what's important.  He's got his eye on a spot on the middle school team...  maybe high school.  He's not dwelling on what he's NOT getting to do this year.  He's focused on what he HAS gotten to do. 
And that, folks, makes me one proud mama!
This weekend we're heading to play the Atlanta Vikings for the second time this season in the league championship game.  The Vikings handed the Paladins their only loss of the season so this game is payback time.  The boys are traveling in the Pinecrest Paladins bus (how cool is that) while the parents tailgate from the burbs to downtown Atlanta in a line of decorated cars.  We will cheer our hearts out and win or lose consider this to be an exceptional season.  If the team wins, we will automatically get a spot in the Born to Compete championship tournament where we would play other league champions.  If we lose, we may still get an at large bid to that tourney.  This team is that good... 
So yes, this will go down as a 6 month football season for us!  (And also as one of our better parenting decisions.)  Go Paladins!!
*The fact that there are 8-10 kids on the team that are bigger than Spencer is somewhat comical given he just had his 11 year old check up and is above the 95% in height and weight.  It's just another reminder that these boys are the best in the area and will undoubtedly be playing football for years to come.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Picture of the Week - 11/14/2013

I get to have LOADS of fun several times a week.  (I am also very punny!)  The following is partly a rant and partly making fun of myself and partly a public service announcement.  It's also entirely about one of my least favorite things so it's very possible this will come across as a giant whine. 
I wanna talk about laundry.  (Fun huh!)  ((Also clothes in general and the bi-yearly seasonal clothes swap that I love so much.))  (((Please sense the extreme sarcasm!)))
There are some things that come with the territory when you become a "grown up".  It's expected that you will, at some point before you move away from home, figure out how to feed yourself and groom yourself.  You become the manager of your calendar and owner of your very own bank account.  You will, PLEASE, figure out how to trim your own nails and tame your own cowlicks.  And along with getting to decide if you want to wear jeans or sweatpants out of the house, you also get to learn how to do laundry. 
Laundry has never really bothered me.  It's one of those chores, much like doing dishes, that is never really done.  It doesn't matter how often I wash and fold and put away, there are always more dirty clothes.  The thing is, I never really thought about the exponential growth of the laundry pile when Bob and I were deciding to have kids.  We talked about moving the guest bedroom.  We talked about getting a safer/bigger car.  We talked about where to store the stock of diapers and how to manage changing schedules.  The thought never crossed my mind that adding a baby is adding more laundry.  Even after we'd been through it 3 times, it STILL didn't dawn on me as I waddled around during Beckett's pregnancy that I was adding ANOTHER pile of dirty clothes to the mix. 
Having a big family means many things.  Two of the things that no one will ever warn you about is the fact that you must have a refrigerator dedicated to gallons of milk and you will forever be up to your knees in laundry. 
I consider myself to be pretty organized.  (I will pause here while I allow my mom time to clean up the drink she just spit on the screen!)  Done?  OK, carrying on...  I am certainly not OCD about MOST things - and just about every closet and drawer in my house could use a good purge.  But my organizational style (stop laughing Berber!) works for us.  I usually know where things are.  We rarely miss events or important things at school or work.  I am usually on time with birthday gifts and stuff like that.  And I can get a crazy household ready and out the door to be on time to just about every activity or event we attend.  Even my laundry process works, for the most part.  Of course we lose socks and the boys sometimes have to wear a t-shirt to bed instead of pjs, but no one leaves the house dirty and they nearly always match.  It's good stuff. 
Until the season changes.  Oh. My. Gosh.  I hate (H.A.T.E) doing the seasonal clothes swap.  Hate it.  It's right up there with the *(#^&*$ time change.  And the fact that these two events regularly happen at the same time just cements them into my mind as things I can not stand.  I have to go through the whole "I can't believe he's too big for that" drama times 4 twice a year.  And it sucks.  And I am HORRIBLE at it!  I admit...  I'm terrible.  (Which is probably why I hate it so much...)
This year I have reached a new low.  After going through Zane's room and packing away all the things he's too big for (sob), I realized that he didn't have very many long sleeve shirts.  Around the same time it dawned on me that Quinn was regularly looking like he'd just come out of the flood and I knew* that he was going to need pants because he wasn't going to be wearing the hand-me-down husky pants from Spencer anytime soon.  So I went shopping.  I bought Z some stuff.  I bought Q some stuff.  And for good measure, I also bought some stuff for Spencer and maybe a shirt or two for Beckett.  Everyone should have some new stuff - right!
*remember that I suck at this...
A few weeks went by as we had a warm spell and everyone went back into t-shirts and shorts for a while.  And then the temps really dropped and I couldn't put off the inevitable any more.  So I set aside a day and started doing the Beckett clothes swap.  Imagine my surprise when I found an ENTIRE BIN of 4T shirts.  Huh...  so that's where they were!  Zane now has enough long sleeve shirts for 3 boys.  I'm embarrassed by his closet. 
In Beckett's room, I packed up summer things and pulled out bins and bins of winter stuff.  I dutifully sorted things to try to sell and things to give away and pitched anything that was stained or torn.  (It's amazing how beat up clothes get after going through 4 boys...  go figure!)  After I was done with Beck's room I had a very big problem on my hands.  He had more pants than I could fit into a drawer, but only had a handful of shirts.  I was missing an entire bin (at least) of 2T shirts.  We have searched the entire house...  can not find them.  I have no little undershirts for him.  I have very few play clothes.  It. Is. So. Weird!
I am terrible at this!
So I licked my wounds a bit and then tackled the big boys' closet.  Where I found, because of course I did, a whole stack of pants for Quinn to wear.  Hmmm...  maybe I'm not as organized as I thought I was.  I am only batting .250 on successfully swapping seasonal clothes for the boys.  Wonder if I can get sent down to the minor league...
Laundry related public service announcement - if you have made it this far, congratulations.  This has been a particularly rambly email...  I wanted to share that when it comes to certain items, some brands are CLEAR winners!  If you have any additions to my list, please share them!  I'm all for tried and true personal recommendations!
1. The best underwear = Fruit of the Loom  (I use Fruit of the Loom for Q and Hanes for S to help keep things separated and the Fruit holds up WAY better for both underwear and undershirts!)
2. The best socks = Gold toe (I get them at Target.  I love that they have stripes on the toes to help me separate sizes because all the boys wear gold toe socks.)
3. The best layering t-shirts/PJ shirts = Lands End Super Ts - these do NOT shrink, do NOT fade and are SO soft!  Worth the extra $
4. The best PJs = toss up between Children's Place and Disney.  They both hold up remarkably well through several kids!
5. The best knock-off Under Amour = BCG at Academy Sports.  It doesn't snag too badly and is about 1/3 the cost!
6. The best laundry aid = Shout Color Catchers - They really work and allow me to throw a load of mixed colors in every day (if I'm not feeling lazy!)
And one final non-laundry related (but potentially California specific) public service announcement - if you should find yourself in a situation where you have a rodent (let's say a raccoon for kicks) in your attic, it's perfectly reasonable to attempt to subdue the animal with a flashlight and a can of Lysol.  (Hi A. M.)
Have a great week everyone!  We have a SUPER busy weekend planned.  A visit to a local BBQ competition, a playoff football game (one and done...  and we're hoping for a win, I think...), a family football party, a visit to Christmas in Central Park (ha, the one in Cumming, not the *famous* one), and a family dinner with my parents and sister's family.  Phew!  So many fun things.  What a fabulous time of year!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Picture of the Week - 11/7/2013

Not much new here!  We are done with Lacrosse for another season and still plugging along with football.  We have 2 free weeknights a week now!  This is a significant improvement over zero!  :)  Spencer's team is entering their playoff bracket as the #1 seed, which means we have a bye this weekend.  I'm not sure what we'll do 2 whole days with nothing on the schedule!  The weather this weekend is supposed to be nice and sunny...  so maybe we can do some kind of fun fall family thing!  Stay tuned!
The little boys had their 2 year old and 4 year old checkups today.  They are both healthy and happy!  (Well Zane was not so very pleased with his round of immunizations...)  Surprisingly they are also both around the 75% in both height and weight.  We knew Beck was a little bulldozer, but hadn't realized how big Zane had gotten.  He grew 4 inches and put on 7 lbs in the last year.  Bob is starting to really chomp at the bit to get him onto a sport steam of some sort!