Thursday, August 27, 2015

Picture of the Week - 8/27/2015

Greetings from the UK!

I've been hanging out this week in Edinburgh, Scotland.  I would love to be able to tell you that I've had a fabulous time and gotten a good taste of the city, but alas...  I have not.  It's been a good trip because I've gotten to meet lots of other Craneware employees.  And everyone has been great.  But my days are filled with training and meetings - and the evenings have been a combination of team dinners and late night conference calls.  Apparently "the Americans" aren't very good at respecting that the second half of the US day is pretty late over here.  I shall try to remember to be a good international team member upon my return to the US.  

The parts of the city I have seen (largely from a taxi) have been very interesting.  It's a neat place for sure - and a good reminder that it's important to travel and learn about other cultures.  Things are just enough different here to be pretty fascinating.  It's a neat country.  But I will be happy to be back home with consistent air conditioning and quality deli meats.  (Catered lunches have been, um, underwhelming.)  Today I have a day packed full of meetings again.  There are more people to talk to and things to work out than we have time to cram into a week.  So yes, I will have to come back.  Probably sooner than I had anticipated.  

I suppose it's a good thing that Bob and the boys seem to be doing just fine at home.  It's a big relief when I get the daily update from Bob with a recap of their day.  I miss them all a whole lot...  

Here's a picture of the view from my hotel at sunset.  It's awfully pretty - and awfully noisy at night.  Catch you next week - from stateside!  Cheers!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Picture of the Week - 8/20/2015

Fully immersed.  

I think it's safe to say that we, as a family, are fully immersed in all the fun fall things that are going on.  And it's an exhilarating (and exhausting) immersion.

Last night is probably a good example of what I am talking about - and maybe a good glimpse into daily life in our house.  (Also, someday when I am bored enough to sit on my porch in the evenings with an adult beverage enjoying the scenery, I won't remember these crazy days.  So here's a reminder for my future self.)

  • I picked up Beck on the way home from work.  It was about 4:00.  (Aside, the 7-3 work schedule is a DREAM!  Aside from sleep deprivation, I love it!!  It's so nice to be home before 5!)  
  • We went home.  I snuggled Zane a bit and heard about his day and then got dinner started, changed clothes and started laundry.  Laundry is daily.  Yesterday's laundry happened to include around 25 very stinky football jerseys from Spencer's team.  I'm still not entirely sure how I ended up volunteering to do team laundry, but I am thankful that there are 3 of us and I don't have ALL the dreadfully stinky uniforms.  
  • When Quinn got home from school, around 5, Bob and the boys ate dinner and then I left with Zane and Beckett so I could drop Beckett at my mom's house for a short visit while Zane had football weigh-ins.  I hadn't planned on a visit to Berber's for Bucky, but he really wanted to hang out with her - so we made a detour.  
  • Zane's weigh-ins were at 6.  It started pouring around 6:10.  The weather has not been kind this week!
  • Bob and Quinn left for lacrosse practice around 6 as well.  I expected them to be out all evening because after the practice the coaches were getting together to draft teams.  Have I mentioned that Bob is coaching a lacrosse team again this fall?  No?  Well he is.  They were short coaches and, well, we are those "Yes" people.  
  • After Zane was finished - and we were moderately wet - we jumped back in the car to pick up Spencer from practice.  Hanging out in the car with Zane, in the rain, was surprisingly awesome.  We chatted and chilled and basically just enjoyed each other.
  • In the meantime, I got a text that lacrosse was cancelled due to lightening and after the draft Bob and Q were heading home.  
  • I gathered a hungry and smelly Spencer at 6:50 and we headed to my mom's to pick up Beckett.  In the pouring rain.  This has not been a good hair week either...
  • Once home, I reheated dinner, delighted in the fact that Spencer was verbally appreciative that there was an actual meat-and-sides meal ready, and sat down to eat with him.  Another aside...  with his schedule, we see VERY little of him these days.  He's out and about with his team and generally loving life as a 7th grader.  I miss him!
  • After dinner and clean up, I swapped out the first load of jerseys for the second one and lovingly (?) laid out the moist jerseys all over our upstairs landing to dry.  Important question - does anyone have any great ideas about how to get the stink out of football uniforms?  Even freshly laundered they smell...
  • At some point during the jersey chores, we put the little guys to bed and I convinced Spencer to put on his jersey for a quick picture.  Because the boys don't get to take their game jerseys home (in general) this was a special treat.  I was thrilled when I discovered that I had the half of the jerseys that happened to include #49.  Check out the pictures...  I had to include the last 2 years of football jersey pictures because I can't believe how much Spence has changed in the last 24 months.  
  • As we settled in for the evening - around 8:30 by now - I got an email that the U13 lacrosse teams were ready to be loaded.  How does this impact me?  Well, you see, I am a Webmaster-in-training for the lacrosse program.  I've also been named Scheduling Coordinator.  I am surprised at the amount of time I have spent trying to organize the 20+ teams in the program - and we haven't even gotten game schedules yet.  This is a bigger job than I had anticipated, but I am (honestly) really excited to be helping this program.  We spend lots and lots of time (and money) in that lacrosse program and Bob and I have decided we want to do what we can to help it succeed and grow.  Instead of complaining about how things are - we are putting our time and efforts into making them better.  
  • By 9:30 I had finished the web work for lacrosse and, after a short phone call with the boys' program director, shut down for the day.  We watched the end of some kind of home improvement show, kicked Spencer out of our room and went to sleep.  My alarm went off this morning at 4:40.  Today will be very similar - with slightly different activities including Zane's football practice, band instrument rental and Spencer pick-up - also delivery of the still somewhat smelly, but at least clean, football jerseys.

I hesitate to share all these details.  They are probably pretty mundane to most people.  And I don't want to come across as whiny or complaining or braggy in any way.  I'm not upset about this crazy schedule.  I don't mind all the little jobs.  In fact, I kind of love them.  I want my kids to see that Bob and I are engaged and active in their activities.  I want them to understand, like I learned from my own parents, that serving community and sacrificing time/energy/money for your kids is a good thing.  And the selfish side of me gets as much out of all these things as I put in.  

I don't think I've shared yet that I agreed, back when Spencer made the football team, to serve as the Vice President of the Vipers football booster club.  The VP automatically becomes President the following year.  So I basically signed myself up for a 2 year gig - without much understanding of what I was getting into.  The woman who asked me to take the role is someone I have known for YEARS - like since before kids.  She said to me, "I know you are busy, but you know what they say, 'If you want something done, ask a busy person'."  Yep - that's what they say.  Because it's true.  So I've gotten to know all the ins and outs of what it takes to run a really successful football booster club.  And it's a lot of work - from a lot of people.  And it's one of the most rewarding things I've done in a long time.  I have gotten to know - really know - a bunch of great moms and dads.  You learn a lot about someone while standing on the serving side of a vat of spaghetti and salad on "Spaghetti Monday" team dinners.  These folks are fun!

I have only one regret (and I know I have shared this before) about our insane schedule.  My only regret is that I get to spend very little time with Bob.  With 3 kids in fall activities (plus Beckett) and overlapping schedules and responsibilities for work and all these other volunteer things, we get to spend about 15 minutes in the mornings over coffee and lunch-packing and then a few minutes here and there in the evenings - wholly dependent on what's on the calendar.  The one saving grace - and thing keeping me sane - is that I get to work from home on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Lunchtime on these days has become a reprieve.  We step away from the conference calls and emails and go out for a bite.  It's child-free, interruption-free, talk time for us.  Bliss!

Saturday I am leaving for a week-long work trip to Scotland.  I am excited about meeting my engineering team over there.  I am interested to see Scotland.  I am dreading the guilt I know I will feel leaving the chaos to Bob to handle for a week.  (My parents, who are ALWAYS at the ready when we get stuck and need an extra driver or some help in any way, are leaving for a vacation of their own on Friday.  Timing...)  Thankfully Grandma Sharon is going to come down to help hold down the fort.  Much of what I do will have to go on hold, but I know Bob will be thankful for an extra hand filling chocolate milk sippy cups and keeping up with the never-ending need to feed boys.

This has gotten way too long and rambling.  I really didn't intend that when I started writing.  If you have made it this far - THANKS - and have a great week!  I should be able to write next week, but my timing may be off.  Have a great weekend - and enjoy the busy-ness of the season.  Also, take a nap in my name!  

And in the meantime, enjoy these pictures.  They have proven to me that I MUST take a picture of each boy with me at the beginning of each season.  You never know when that growth spurt is going to hit.  And I sure am glad I caught Spencer's in such a blatant way!




Thursday, August 13, 2015

Picture of the Week - 8/13/2015

Are you guys tired of hearing about football yet?  I sure hope not - because we are just getting started.

Spencer played in his first middle school scrimmage and real game this past week.  The scrimmage trip down to Camden County was a great experience for the team.  It was lots of bonding and fun for the boys - despite a scary incident with one of our players who ended up leaving the field on a stretcher.  He's going to be fine now - but it was pretty terrifying at the time.  Even with the injury, the boys seemed to have a really good time - I know Spencer did.

The Vipers won their first regular season game on Tuesday night with a score of 47-0.  They looked awesome.  Can I brag for just a minute?  Spence was one of only two 7th graders to get to start in the game.  He's first string Defensive Line - playing right tackle.  Seriously proud mama moment.  He had a fantastic game - with at least 3 tackles - and gained a ton of confidence in the process.  To make things even better for him, he was directly across from a boy who was on his Paladins team last year.  He won the one-on-one consistently.  Like I said...  much to be proud of watching that game from the sidelines.

Here's a picture of him flying over a guy in pursuit of the ball carrier.  I got this same moment from 2 different photographers* and 2 different angles - which is pretty neat.  I don't know if I've ever seen Spencer this far off the ground before - so I had to share.  (He is number 49 - or just look for the all white shoes.)

Here are some other fun pictures from the game!

 In the picture above you can see Spence beating #70 - his teammate from last year's Paladins team.

In other news - Quinn starts lacrosse on Monday - and with it we add 2-3 more practices every week with games starting in a few weeks.  Zane's first game is on August 22nd.  If you are bored and want to spend some time at a ball field, give me a shout - we will be out and about nearly every day until mid-November.

Have a great week everyone!

*Photo credit to one of our awesome team moms (Melanie Zabetakis) and the team photographer, Michael Chung.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Picture of the Week - 8/6/2015

Today is back to school day!

And morning #1 of the 2015/2016 school year was a smashing success!  Everyone was on time.  There were no tears.  There were smiles and packed bags and they even let me fix their hair.  Today is a great day!

Spencer is off to 7th grade.  I think he's going to love this year!  He's no longer just a 6th grader.  Now he's an upper classman.  Not quite as cool as an 8th grader, but I think his position on the middle school football team will more than make up for that!  He's taking all advanced/accelerated classes - and still playing tuba in band.  I think it could be an academically challenging year for him, but I love the fact that he's so confident that he really believes he can do anything.  The sky is the limit!

Quinn is entering middle school as a 6th grader.  I think he was nervous for a minute going into Open House, but coming out he is ready to GO!  Not sure what they did during Open House Viper Camp, but I like it!  He is going to be a social butterfly - without a doubt.  We got him a cell phone 2 days ago and he has already received more calls than Spencer has in the last year.  He loves his buddies - and can't wait to make some new friends.  He is going to be involved in everything.  I can't wait to experience middle school through Quinn - because it's going to be drastically different than watching through his big brother's eyes.  Quinn will put himself out there - for everyone and everything.  I'm sure that will lead to hurt feelings and disappointments - but I am equally sure it will result in a TON of fun and a wealth of new experiences.  Quinn is going to show everyone just how Mighty he is!

Zane is starting his elementary school journey today and is now officially a Whitlow Wolf.  He wore his new Kindergartner shirt, gobbled his breakfast, and memorized his teacher's name.  I thought he might be a little shy at the bus stop, but boy was I wrong.  He got into line and walked right onto that bus like he's done it a million times before.  He was grinning from ear to ear - so was I!  I hope that Zane learns to relax a little and that the teachers can keep him engaged.  Since he has already been through kindergarten curriculum once before, he's probably going to be a little bored for a while, but we totally lucked out getting a teacher who has a 1st grader who also went through kindergarten twice.  So she totally GETS IT!  And really, is there any better feeling than knowing the woman who will be guiding your child for the next 9 months really understands him?  Zane is about to blossom.  He's going to ROCK elementary school!

Beckett is still in daycare and more than a little miffed about that.  He went from being the youngest in his class to the oldest when they rearranged all the class placements last week.  He's academically ready for Pre-K, but emotionally maybe not so much.  (Also he's technically too young for pre-K by almost 3 months.)  He has a hard time listening sometimes...  a lot of times...  So they let him stay in the preschool room for a while.  I think he's upset that his friends all moved on.  I was a little upset for him.  But I really like the new teacher in that room.  And I think, as so many other things that happen, that this can be a really good learning experience for him.  He was disappointed - good!  Use that feeling and grow from it, little man.  Understand that there are consequences to your actions.  Learn that lesson now and you will make better choices for years to come.  (Plus, I really think they will move him to Pre-K by the first of the year anyway...)

Here's a picture of my gang.  I can't even begin to tell you how pleased I was that the big boys got up and moving in time to get this picture!  Their bus comes to pick them up an hour after Zane's!!
Have a great day everyone!