Thursday, November 16, 2017

Picture of the Week - 11/16/2017

So I was thinking the other day (and I guarantee Bob just cringed...  because normally those words are followed by some kind of need to perform chores...)

But no...  I wasn't thinking about the parts of our house that need to be painted (there are lots) or things that I want to replace (there are lots) or all the places that need to be purged (there are lots) - shoot...  now I AM thinking about all of those things...

What I was actually thinking about the other day while driving to work in the dark was that I have so many reasons to be thankful.  I guess it's good to stop and think about these things regularly.  I've been trying to be more aware of being thankful and having gratitude, but it's sometimes still easy to lose sight of those things in the midst of a chaotic schedule.  Thanksgiving is always a good, and blatant, reminder to recognize (even if silently) things around you, within you, above you for which you can be thankful.

I feel like I have more than my fair share of reasons to feel blessed.  My life is rich with experience - and friends - and family.  I've worked hard enough to value what I have.  I've made mistakes that make the good decisions just that much sweeter.  I've struggled and stressed and worried through days that make the easy and carefree moments special and memorable.  I've watched people around me struggle and then rebound and thrive.  I've seen loss and pain and grieving which reminds me that life is short and those still with me are blessings to be cherished.  Every day. 

Tomorrow is World Prematurity Day.  A list of reasons why I am thankful would not be complete without my family.  I consider myself incredibly lucky to be married to my very best friend.  And together we have been given the gift of raising these four amazing boys.  I'm sure I'd be proud and love my boys under pretty much any circumstance.  That's a mom's love.  But we have the special and unique perspective given to the parents of preemies (and maybe made more special by those little ones who have gone through extra challenges).  I imagine this perspective can come through other avenues as well - survivors of illness or injury, for example - but for me, it's Quinn who provided this reminder of how precious this crazy life really is.

Tomorrow is World Prematurity Day and I will be celebrating Quinn - and all the other tiny littles who can claim to have overcome that harsh introduction to the world.  These babies teach everyone they meet what it's like to fight.  I'll also spend some time remembering all those babies born too soon to survive and sending up prayers for their parents. 

Here's a new picture of Quinn with his Incredible Shrinking Bear.  And an old picture, that will always be so precious to me, of just after tiny Quinn was born.  Perspective is so very powerful.  We are so very, very lucky!

Spend some time this week, leading up to Turkey Day, thinking about what you are thankful for this year.  And then hug as many of those reasons as you can.  Send prayers for the ones you can't reach physically. 

Aside from Thanksgiving and hugging my kids until they complain, we also have a LOT of sports stuff going on!  Saturday Beckett plays in the Lanier Bowl.  I've never had a kindergartener play football and not go to the Lanier Bowl!  I think the Bovenizers are good luck!  We are 1 and 1 in K/1 Lanier Bowls...  so this is our tie-breaker year - and we are due for a win!

After that we will all head to Spencer's wrestling match.  He's wrestling varsity again this week at 220.  Last weekend he came in 4th in his weight class (there were 17 teams at the match).  He was unimpressed with 4th place and  threw his medal in his bag...  You know how Spencer feels about "participation trophies" - there's a winner and then there's everyone else.  LOL

Tuesday Spencer has another wrestling match since the boys are all off school all week.  We are definitely rookie wrestling parents and didn't realize that a Tuesday tournament meant they were starting in the morning.  Ha!  So Bob and I have both scrambled to rearrange work stuff so we can take the day off and watch/volunteer.  Pretty sure we'll be working concessions all day, but at least we will be together!

In other Spencer news... he's signed up to take his driver's education classes over the Thanksgiving break.  4 days worth...  sucks for him to give up vacation time, but this is literally the only time until June he can take the class without missing practice/games/trips.  That child has a ridiculously busy schedule. 

And of course we get to spend Thanksgiving with my mom and dad and my sister's family.  I love this holiday!  Downtime and relaxed family time, followed by a "free" weekend to decorate for Christmas and do more family stuff.  Time to exhale.  I am thankful for that for sure!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Picture of the Week - 11/9/2017

Newsy sporty kinda email today - lots of good stuff happening!

Quinn made the Senior Select lacrosse team!  Yay!!!  I'm so happy for him.  He got cut from the Junior Select team last year and has worked all year to get better - and it shows.  I'm excited to get to watch him play at that level - and even more excited because Bob's not coaching him and we can enjoy the season together (at least when we aren't spread all over with the little boys...)

Spencer is wrestling this weekend for the Varsity wrestling team for his high school in the 220 pound weight class.  This is no small feat as he's a freshmen and competing with upperclassmen (in a school of about 3k kids).  And he's wrestling "up" as he really should be in the 195 lb weight class, but they needed a 220 guy.  I have NO IDEA how he will do...  I do know that he's LOVING wrestling season.  He is so pumped that I think wrestling has officially become more than just a way to get better at football.  If the football coaches aren't careful, he'll have a new favorite sport soon...  Stay tuned...  

Beckett is playing in a playoff football game on Saturday.  On paper, his team should win, which would put them into the Lanier Bowl the following weekend.  

Zane is done with football for now and focusing on Jiu Jitsu.  He's got 2 more stripes on his belt and thinks he's really close to getting his grey belt.  There is a JJ tournament in early December that I think the little guys may do.  Will be interesting to see how they do with competition outside their gym.  

In non-sporting news...  Our carpet drama is officially all done.  The stairs now match the rest of the floor and all is well.  

PS - all kids doing well in school.  I never talk about school because it's boring to talk about...  trust me that they are all doing great.  

Here's a fun picture of the littles climbing a tree.  They have both recently gone through HUGE growth spurts.  Between the extra inches and the football/jiu jitsu all fall, they have gotten lean and strong.  No more little soft bodies in my house.  Everyone is getting muscles everywhere.  

Have a great week everyone! 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Picture of the Week - 11/2/2017

I debated about sharing this.  Honestly, there's a huge part of me that wanted to just ignore it all until I forgot about it.  But then I figured, what the heck...  if this isn't the perfect example of "real life" then I don't know what is!

Last Friday we got new carpet upstairs*.  It was a long time coming and I was very excited about it.  That doesn't mean it wasn't a gigantic hassle.  It was loud and the dogs were freaked and our house was torn apart.  But NEW CARPET!!!  

We got through the installation and my parents came up to help make beds and get us back to "livable".  We crashed for the night surrounded by the slightly nauseating smell of new carpet.

At around 4:10 AM we were woken by the tell-tale sound of a dog vomiting.  We didn't even make it 12 hours.  Sigh...

We got up in the morning, cursed our luck - and our dog, and drank some coffee while admiring our new carpet in the sitting area of our bedroom.  We had early football (and snack duty) - and it was raining - so there was much prep work getting ready for the day.  Bob brought me up a breakfast shake - chocolate (which is important) - while I was finishing up getting ready.  I set my full glass of chocolate shake on the side table for a second so I could turn off the TV and proceeded to knock it over.  All of it.  All over the BRAND NEW CARPET.  Seriously people...  I can't make this up.

I was mortified.  I figure maybe the only thing that would have been worse to spill on brand new greyish-beigish carpet would be red wine.  It was 7:30 AM and I might have been better off with red wine.  We sopped up the mess, but really didn't have time to mess with it much.  I sprayed and scrubbed until I ran out of carpet cleaner, then left with a depressing gigantic brown spot smack in the middle of our new flooring.  Sob.

Believe it or not today is the first evening I've had a chance to attempt to actually get the stain up.  It required the purchase of a new rug scrubber.  (If anyone's interested the Bissel Revolution Pet Pro is pretty awesome.)  

So yeah...  this is the universe's way of reminding me that I can't have nice things.  And we now have the ability to scrub a wide variety of nastiness.  Come to think of it, with 4 boys and 2 dogs, it now seems kind of crazy that we didn't already have a good rug scrubber, right???

Have a happy week everyone!  Saturday Zane plays in his first football playoff game (lose and out) and Spencer has a lacrosse game.  Then we are all heading to the part to help run a "Learn to Lacrosse" community event.  Thankfully it's supposed to be in the mid-70s!  Sunday is Select Lacrosse team evaluations - say a little prayer that Quinn does well.  He's up for the Senior Select team this year.  

*In another awesome(?) example of "things are always harder than they should be" they didn't order enough carpet for the stairs.  So we have this awesome (not - at all) look going on with new carpet upstairs and nasty, dirty, gross carpet up the stairs.  Safe to say we'll not be hosting Better Homes and Gardens again this month...

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Picture of the Week - 10/26/2017

So we are getting new carpets upstairs.  I'm ridiculously excited.  I'm also thinking we were insane to do it in the middle of our crazy fall season.  

The carpet installers are moving all of the furniture.  The commercials make it sound SO easy...  and then you sign the paperwork and they hand you this little booklet about how to prepare for the installation.  Take everything off every surface.  Move small stuff (lamps, chairs, etc.).  Strip all the beds.  THAT'S NOT EASY!

We are doing the entire upstairs.  So there's no where to stash stuff.  All the closet floors have to be cleared up to 3 ft.  That means all the low hanging clothes have to move.  

I've learned these things - we have too many books and too many clothes and far too many stuffed animals.  Also, my boys are not tidy.  

I know (hope/pray) that I'll love it when it's all done, but on the eve of the event, knowing that I've got the dogs solo tomorrow while Bob goes to the office for the first time in...  I can't even remember...  where's the wine.  Oh wait, I still have to clear out my entire craft area.  Sob...

If you need me, I'll be filling up all of our bathtubs with lamps and pillows and shoes.  

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Picture of the Week - 10/19/2017

Happy 6th Birthday to Beckett!!!

It's kind of impossible to believe that Beckett is 6.  He still seems like a wee baby in my mind, but 6 year olds aren't babies - and he is definitely not wee...  Somehow, in the chaos of the day-to-day, he grew up.  He's a BOY now.  And a pretty awesome one at that.  

When I think about how to describe Beckett the word that first comes to mind is FEARLESS.  He is not afraid of anything.  He doesn't back away form work, people, or new situations.  Possibly the only thing he's afraid of is vegetables.  He is a very confident child - which has pros and cons for sure!  He's not timid - ever.  

Beck has gone through some pretty significant changes this year.  He changed schools, groups at church, started jiu jitsu, and joined a football team.  He goes into these situations as if they are nothing new.  Sometimes he is a bit quiet at the beginning, but I wouldn't call him shy.  I think it takes him a minute to assess the situations.  I think, in a way, he's figuring out the pecking order of the new group.  It's possible he's seeking out all the weaknesses in the group!  HA!

The downside of a kid who's not afraid of anything is that he really doesn't care if he's breaking rules because he's not worried about any repercussions.  This makes our youngest more than a little ornery on occasion.  He has had more discipline notes from his teacher in 9 weeks than some of his brothers have had in years.  (I do remind myself from time to time that Quinn was almost exactly the same...  and he's now a really good listener!)  At Jiu Jitsu, when he misbehaves Sensai Sean makes him do "wall sits".  I figure by the time he's 7 the kid will have ridiculously strong thigh muscles!

Speaking of strength, this is one of the things I find pretty fascinating about Bucky.  He's really, really strong.  Like stronger than you would expect a 6 year old to be.  He's also easily got the best coordination of any of our boys.  He climbs fences, rides bikes and scooters, runs and plays and wrestles.  He's a very physical kid.  I suppose growing up with a house full of brothers, who are all active, he was bound to be physical.  The fact that he seems to have some natural abilities in this area is going to make him really fun to watch in the coming years.  

Beckett definitely benefits from being the baby of the family.  I admit that he's got Bob and me wrapped around his finger.  He has a way about him, if you know him you understand, to get what he wants.  This works on his brothers too.  He's got great relationships with all 3 of the older boys.  He idolizes Spencer.  He loves Quinn's kind and caring ways.  He is Zane's best friend and playmate.  It is one of my biggest pleasures in life to watch the interactions between those boys.  I hope someday Beckett realizes how lucky he is to hold his special place in our family.

I know Beck will have a fantastic year.  He's got so many cool things in front of him now that he's got many of those big transitions behind him.  Now we can just sit back and enjoy watching him learn and play - and love.  I am so excited about spending the next year with our spunky little Bucky.  I am so blessed to get to be his mom.  

Happy Birthday Beckett!  

Today I am wrapping up another trip away from home.  It's been a bit of a rough month!  I'm actually sending this from a Delta plane somewhere over Arizona on the way back from Las Vegas.  When I get home we have parent teacher conferences and then get to watch Spencer play in his last football game as a 9th grader.  His team is undefeated and they are playing for the 9th grade county championship.  I can't believe his football season is already over.  It seems like it just started.  (Monday he starts wrestling practice...  and the merry-go-round keeps going.)

This weekend we have more football games, more lacrosse games, and a trip to play "family paintball" to celebrate Beckett's birthday.  The paintball place Spencer went to has a special option for little kids - and it just happens that you have to be 6 to do it.  Bucky was so excited to find out that he was old enough!  

Next week I'm off to Orlando, but just for 1 night.  Then I think (hope/pray) that I'm home for a while!

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Picture of the Week - 10/12/2017

Happy middle of October-that-still-feels-like-August!

I was in Kansas City this week for a conference.  It was an exhausting conference, if I'm being honest.  There weren't enough people there, so the poor 3 of us they sent spent FAR too long standing in the booth and spoke to FAR too many people.  I would love to crawl in bed and hibernate for about 12 hours.  

Instead, we are doing the divide-and-conquer four way tango tonight.  I've got Quinn at a Band concert.  Bob is watching Spencer's game and the Little boys are getting dropped off/picked up for their football practices (in different places because, well...  that's how this fall rolls.)

I thought I'd share these hilarious (at least to me) pictures that Bob sent me while I was gone.  Apparently Zane taught himself how to raise one eyebrow from watching something on YouTube and is super proud of the new party trick.  LOL  They sure brought a much needed smile to my face when I got them!

Spencer's last regular season football game is tonight.  This weekend Zane has a bye-week, so only 1 football game, 1 HS lacrosse game, 1 youth lacrosse clinic and 2 U15 lacrosse games.  Oh and I have car pool duty for church.  Piece of cake...  I'm off to Vegas next week for User Group.  This one requires more preparation than this week, but should also include more sitting!  Never thought I'd be so excited for a chair!  :)

Have a great week everyone - and if you have some fall temperatures, send them this way!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Picture of the Week - 10/5/2017

Happy fall!!!

Today there are lots of pictures and not many words!  Here are some of my favorites from our trip to Burt's Pumpkin Farm last week.  


Tonight Spencer is back in action on the football field.  He's only got 3 more games left this season.  Crazy how fast things move!  Zane and Beck both have games on Saturday and Spencer is in a HS lacrosse game too.  It's truly a divide-and-conquer kind of weekend!  Next week I'm off on business travel (to Kansas City) for the first time in over a month.  Man it's been nice to be home!  I'm not looking forward to the trip.

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Picture of the Week - 9/28/2017

Tomorrow is Zane's 8th birthday!  

I have really enjoyed getting to know this handsome blonde dude this year.  He's developing his own little personality and it's pretty amazing to watch.  I think he tends to surprise us more than the big boys have.  Just when I think I've got him figured out, he shares another quirk all his own.

Zane is a thinker.  He thinks everything through.  And then some.  I would say that being a thinker first (as opposed to action first) is a good thing about 90% of the time.  

One thing that he's far better at than his older brothers is imaginative play with action figures.  He's always played well with action sets.  The storylines and games he plays are complex and intricate - and you better believe there are rules involved.  Do not break the rules.  Rule breakage leads to a bad scene!

I think one of the areas that Zane struggles most with is related to the fact that he thinks through situations and feels like he's got the best plan forward.  This is awesome - and should keep him out of lots of trouble - but it also makes dealing with change very difficult.  He still has problems when unexpected things happen or he's surprised by some reaction.  He's much better at these things than he used to be - and maturity will continue to help I'm sure.

Speaking of maturity, Zane's sense of humor has gotten so much funnier this year!  He's got a quick wit and is very dry.  Some of the stuff he says is just plain funny!  I was trying to take a picture of something a few weeks ago and I couldn't find a place to take the picture with a decent backdrop.  I tried to use the table, but the table was REALLY dirty (like 4 boys live here dirty) so I made a comment about not being able to find a clean spot to use.  Zane looked a me and said, "You should just take a picture of the table and say 'boys'."  He was completely deadpan serious.  It cracked me up for days.

In sports, being a thinker first has both pros and cons.  On the con side, he tends to come across as overly cautious when he's learning something new.  I actually remember thinking this about Spencer too.  Like our oldest, Zane seems hesitant to try new things until he's sure he can master them.  Like riding a bike...  he used training wheels far longer than he probably needed them, but wouldn't let us take them off until Beck took his off. 

There are also lots of times when being a thinker is a benefit in sports.  On the football field, he does what he's told to do, pretty much every time.  He doesn't forget.  He doesn't flake.  He just does his job.  He's not flashy in any way, but he's very reliable.  And that makes him an asset on just about every team.  In Jiu Jitsu, he watches - like a hawk - the more experienced kids in the group.  Sensei has to remind him regularly that he should be focused on his group.  But then when he does get a chance to try the more advanced stuff, he picks up the techniques super quickly because he's watched and learned over the previous sessions.  

Knowing that Zane analyzes things and "lives" in his head leads to people making assumptions about him.  Bob and I have done it ourselves, so trust me, I know it's easy to do.  He's a really bright kid.  I think he's likely the most intellectually gifted of our boys.  We let him play sports and expose him to athletic activities, but never really had very high expectations of what he would accomplish.  Shame on us...  We've consistently underestimated this area of his abilities.  I suppose we get to continue to learn from our kids and need reminders that we certainly don't know it all!  The biggest surprise this year has happened with Jiu Jitsu.  We signed the little boys up for classes over the summer to try it out since we didn't have anything else going on.  Zane has fallen in love with the sport.  As in, he looks forward to going every time.  We knew he'd DO it.  We didn't think he'd LIKE it.  And we never expected he'd LOVE it.  

I think part of the reason he likes it so much is because he gets to do it with Beckett.  Those 2 boys have the best relationship!  I love it.  They argue occasionally.  Sometimes things get ugly.  But I would say that the vast majority of the time they are more friends than foes.  Jiu Jitsu is something those two get to do together that the big boys don't do.  They are learning things that they know Spencer and Quinn don't know.  And I think it's made them love the sport - and respect each other - more because it's special for them. Someday they won't have to share a room and they won't ride the same bus to school and they will have different friends and (maybe) different interests, but for now, they are kind of the textbook description of BROTHERS.

I'm excited to see what's in store for Zane this year.  He's probably going to get braces.  He's going to finish this football season, move up to U9 in lacrosse, start another football season and do WHO KNOWS WHAT in Jiu Jitsu.  He's learning more and more at school and enjoying all of it.  I'm sure he will continue to mentor the little guy that looks up to him daily while also modeling himself on what he sees in his big brothers.  In some ways I think Zane's position in our family is the luckiest one of all the boys - and also possibly the trickiest.  He's sandwiched in between all kinds of awesome.  If he didn't have a strong personality, it would be possible for him to get overlooked and lost in the shuffle.  Luckily for Zane - and really for all of us - he's a pretty awesome dude.  Smart.  Funny.  Handsome.  And all ours to enjoy and love!  

I wish the happiest of birthdays to our sweet Zane.  I can't wait to have an 8 year old in the house again!

We are finishing up fall break tomorrow and looking forward to a really nice, relaxing weekend - and birthday cake!  Today we went on the annual Burt's Pumpkin Farm trip (look for pictures soon) and tomorrow we are updating our family portraits.  It's been a lovely, low stress week!  On Monday we hit the ground running for 3 straight weeks of all out crazy chaos.  Then fall sports start wrapping up and we start gearing up for the holidays.  Goodness...  where has this year gone???


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Picture of the Week - 9/21/2017

It's birthday season in the Bovenizer house!  Spencer kicks things off next Wednesday when he turns 15.  So cliche...  but so crazy to believe he's 15.

I know it's perfectly normal for parents to be ridiculously proud of their kids.  I know it's also perfectly normal for those same ridiculously proud parents to also, at times, be disappointed, furious, confused, and oblivious.  So I know we're all perfectly normal!  :)  

Spencer has had a big year.  Lots of stuff has happens to him, for him, with him since his last birthday.  

Shortly after his last birthday he won a middle school football championship for a team that he (and I) adored.  He was a leader on that team, both on and off the field.  In the post-season banquet the coaches spent more time talking about his attitude and work ethic than they talked about the fact that he was only half a tackle away from breaking the school's all-time tackle record - despite missing 3 whole games through the season.  He handled himself - through both the challenges and the successes - on that team in a way that I could brag about for days.  He impressed me.  And my standards are pretty high...

That football experience bolstered his confidence, his social standing (lets be honest, football players are viewed differently in the school hallways), and his reputation as a hard worker and reliable teammate.  The season also left us with a healthcare mess.

Spencer tore the labrum in his right shoulder in the championship game.  He injured it again playing lacrosse.  And again working out.  He ended up with surgery in January and a strict "no activity" plan for months.  It was a full 6 months before he was back to normal.  He missed an entire wrestling season.  He missed an entire lacrosse season.  For someone who placed so much value on physical activity and leading on a team, this was a serious blow.  I had some significant concerns that he would, for lack of a better way of putting it, wither.  I worried he'd be depressed.  Worried he'd lose the special fire that was in him the previous season.  I worried more about his mental health than the status of the healing shoulder.

And you know what?  Once again, that child impressed me.  He accepted the "hand that was dealt him" and didn't just get through it - he thrived through it. 

Instead of being able to wrestle, he became the program's biggest marketer.  He talked up the value of wrestling for success in other sports.  Teammates from his football team joined.  His brother joined.  He supported the program by believing in the process enough to "sell it".  

Instead of being able to play lacrosse, he coached it.  How cool is that?  A 14 year old willing to spend time with a bunch of 1st graders to help them learn a sport he loves.  Impressive...  (Aside - I thought this was a time-filler while he was unable to play, but he's already asked me what team he'll be assigned to this spring.  Awesome attitude and willingness to "give back"!)

I would love to say that while he had some downtime he focused on his schoolwork and killed the 8th grade, but the reality is that he didn't have much downtime because he insisted on going to all the practices and supporting his teams from the sidelines.  He did fine in his schoolwork.  Better than average, but not to the potential I think he could have performed.  Once he got his freshman year class recommendations (which included all the honors/AP classes he was eligible to take) he realized that no one was ever going to look at his 8th grade transcripts.  Hard to argue with that...

So he focused instead on his social network and in making some really great friends.  This includes his first "real" girlfriend and his first official school formal.  Both of these things make me gasp just a bit because they are some significant milestones and things I distinctly remember from my own adolescence.  

Starting High School is another of those big milestones.  Going from a "king of the hill" 8th grader to a freshman is pretty hard.  Certainly an adjustment period.  Once again - I'm impressed with how Spencer has handled this.  He tackles new situations with a level of confidence I wish I had.  He's got quite a lot of "I'll figure it out" in him and a really nice compliment of common sense to go along with it.  He has had some bumps - both in football and in classes.  Things haven't been smooth sailing for him, but they sure could be worse!  

He has learned (I think/hope/pray) that there are times it's important to humble yourself and ask for help.  He's dealt with some misunderstandings based purely on the fact that he's not communicated well.  He's accepted that.  And by all appearances, because goodness knows he doesn't share nearly as many details as I want about what's going on with his life, he's corrected some situations that could have gone off the rails.

Spencer has been surprised by the difficulty of high school courses.  I feel for him because his schedule is almost as difficult as it could possibly be for a freshman.  There's a math class above the one he's in, but everything else he's "maxed out" and it's a hard schedule.  Also, he's never really had to work very hard in the past, so I'm not convinced he really knew how to study and prepare.  He's figuring it out and I'm pretty confident that we "caught" the grade-slide early enough that he can work himself out of the hole he dug.  This topic has been the source of many discussions lately!  Instead of shutting down, making excuses, giving up - he's working to fix things - and making some big improvements.  There's still work to do...  but his attitude about it is (almost always) impressive.

Figuring out how to focus his time and energy to meet his goals is going to be really important as we move into his 15th year.  He's got some very lofty goals - and a very limited amount of time.  He's got a truck to rebuild and the clock is ticking to figure out how to get it done on his budget before he turns 16.  He's very motivated - and I've not really seen him fail at something that he's this passionate about so I have every expectation he will drive that truck on his 16th birthday.  

He's also focused on making the most of his "student athlete" status.  He's playing football, fall lacrosse, wrestling, and spring lacrosse.  He works out nearly every day.  He's politely disagreeing with all the people who say that it's time to select one sport and specialize.  He's modeling himself to athletes who have had very successful careers "doing it all".  He may be trying to put us in the poor house with all the registration fees and all the equipment needs, but I will support him in this goal for as long as it's important to him.  He's an impressive kid and I have vowed not to do anything that somehow artificially limits what appears to be an unlimited potential in him.

Looking back over the last 12 months, Spencer has taken up a huge amount of our time and thoughts and energy.  He's had more ups and downs - and certainly more transitions - than the rest of the family combined.  I've probably spent more time talking about and thinking about and praying about our oldest boy than I have his brothers.  I'm unapologetic about this fact.  He's through the transitions.  He's settling in.  He's poised for great things and prepared (or at least preparing) to continue to be impressive.  He needed a lot of parenting this year.  I expect that was the pinnacle with him.  I know there will continue to be lessons we teach him and things he needs from us, but I expect our "heavy lifting" with him is mostly past us.  

I don't say this in a naive way where I think everything going forward will be unicorns and rainbows.  I say this because I know that he's more man than child now.  I say this because I know he knows right from wrong.  I say this because he's impressive as his own person.  And I am ridiculously proud of that person!  

I wish Spencer the happiest of birthdays next Wednesday and can't wait to see what this year brings.  I think we will kick things off with a trip to the DMV for his driver's permit and then a stop for birthday brunch.

Tonight Spencer has a football game, then Zane has one on Saturday morning and then we kick off a blissfully slow "fall break" week!  Stay tuned for more birthday tributes and some fun pictures from Burt's Pumpkin Farm 2017 coming soon!!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Picture of the Week - 9/14/2017

Hi everyone!

This sure has been a strange week!  Not bad (for us) but just different.  

We didn't have any damage from the hurricane/tropical storm - unless you consider the direct hit our pantry took...  but the kids were off school for 2 days.  I spent a lot of time watching coverage, praying for those impacted, and worrying.  What a mess.  There are people I work with who are still without power in Atlanta.  I can't even imagine being in the Florida Keys or Miami or Jacksonville.  

I feel almost bad sharing this, but the down time on Monday and Tuesday was actually kind of nice.  We didn't have sports.  The boys didn't have school work.  There were no social events.  It was just us.  At home.  Working with the kids all here can get a little dicey, but the evenings were kind of awesome!  I cooked.  We all sat down and ate together.  We had dessert!  There was no rushing around.  No splitting of taxi duties.  It was just good family time.  

I am still praying for all those impacted.  I'm working with one of our neighbors to gather recovery supplies to send to Texas and/or Florida.  I've made donations.  If any of you out there reading this have been impacted and there's anything we can do to help, please don't hesitate to ask.  I probably can't send you a peaceful meal (with pumpkin pie), but I'll do what I can!

Here are some recent pictures of Beckett.  These are completely unrelated to storm-forced downtime, but I haven't shared them before and they are cute.  It also reminds me that it's nearly birthday collage time.  I better get started on that!

Tonight is a "crazy Thursday".  They are so bad that they have a nickname.  But hey...  there are only 4 more crazy Thursdays - at least for this sport's season.  Spencer has a game.  The little guys both have practice.  Bob is doing the drop offs and then coming to the game to watch the first half before going back to do pick-ups.  Quinn has practice too and we've got a ride lined up for him.  Phew!

Tomorrow turned into a "crazy Friday" because we are in make-up mode from the missed practices earlier this week.  I'm working concessions at the high school game and Bob has youth football duty.  It's the first time (and probably the last) that Zane and Beck will be practicing on the same field at the same time.  Actually should be pretty fun!

Saturday the little guys have games in the AM and then Quinn has a lacrosse clinic in the afternoon run by the Ga Tech coaches.  We'll be ready to chill out and watch the Buckeyes again by Saturday afternoon!  

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Picture of the Week - 9/7/2017

So I thought it might be kind of fun to share how my day went today.  This is not because I'm whining about it.  Actually, it was a pretty OK day.  This is more just so that someday my boys might read this and realize that we were really busy!

  • 4:40 - My alarm went off (I set it so I can snooze a bit...)
  • 5:55 - Out the door and into "my" pickup truck - which I don't like...  at all
  • 7:07 - arrive in my office and find that the HR lady who shares my office when I'm not there beat me to work and was in my spot.  Despite my name being on the plate on the door, I still felt guilty that I made her go back to her cube.
  • Series of meetings - none of which all that interesting - including a meeting straight through lunch - ending with a customer call in which I thought I'd be there for morale support and to answer the odd question and ended up speaking, almost exclusively, for around 75 minutes.  Not what I expected...  sometimes it's good to be able to virtually tap dance!
  • 3:36 - leave the office, knowing that I've missed the window that minimizes the traffic home
  • 4:56 - walk in the door after dealing with super frustrating traffic.  Maybe it's extra people from the Florida and Georgia evacuations.  Maybe it's just a busy traffic day, but it was a LOT of cars to deal with!  Thank goodness Bob had dinner ready because I was a good 45 minutes later than I wanted to be getting home.
  • 5:10 - load Beckett and Zane into the big car (cause I'm not voluntarily driving the pick-up around all evening!) and take them to Midway Park.
  • 5:20 - remind Beckett's coach that I'm having to do a "drop and run" which they really don't like you to do with 5 year olds...  because I'm on taxi duty...  and then squeeze Beck into his pads
  • 5:40 - leave Beck and head to the other side of Midway to drop off Zane.  Again explain the "drop and run" requirement.  Squeeze Zane into his pads
  • 6:10 - leave Zane and head home to get Quinn
  • Spent 20 minutes watching the news to see what's going on with the hurricane.  I may be addicted to Hurricane coverage.  I'm horrified at the mess Harvey left and worried about all the destruction coming with Irma is going to cause.  What a mess! 
  • 6:25 - leave with Quinn to go to his lacrosse practice at Sawnee Mt Park
  • 6:50 - leave Quinn as soon as the coach arrives at the field and head back to Midway
  • Spend 15 minutes staring into the sun while Beckett's team finishes practice and runs sprints
  • 7:05 - load Beck into the car after stripping him out of sweaty pads and head back up to Zane's field
  • Spend the next hour alternating between watching Zane, chatting with some friends, and trying to locate Beckett, who kept disappearing.  Pleasant evening at this point - aside from staring into the blinding sun.
  • 8:05 - attempt to leave Midway Park only to spend the next 15 minutes in traffic.  Seriously - where are all these people going and why aren't they at home?  Oh right...  they are probably out schlepping kids to and from a wide variety of "stuff"
  • 8:20 - arrive at the high school to wait for Spencer to arrive (via bus) from his away football game.  Worth noting at this point that Bob spent the evening at the game (not just ignoring me and the taxi duties) and by this point had left the football game and was at Sawnee Mt to collect Quinn
  • Spend the next 25 minutes with the little boys, who by this time were overtired and hungry, literally BOUNCING around the car.  Windows down.  LOUD.  They were, honestly, completely incapable of sitting still for more than about 14 seconds.  Those 25 minutes wrecked my nerves way worse the Atlanta rush hour traffic - even WITH the accident and flashing lights and Waze-suggested detour.
  • 8:47 - Spencer arrives in the car and immediately stinks up the whole place.  Boy stink is bad.  Post-football game boy stink is REALLY bad...
  • 9:02 - arrive home and pour myself a fancy plastic Tervis Tumbler full of my favorite wine while the boys eat a very nutritious second dinner of Tostinos pizza rolls. 
  • It's now 9:29 and I'm wrapping up this POTW, which I love writing, but does occasionally add a bit of stress to my "to do" list.  Next stop is pajamas, finishing my fancy glass of wine, and curling up for another episode of Game of Thrones.  (Another week I will have to share the strange path Bob and I have taken to get to the final season of GoT.  It involves starting with actually reading the books and ends with us trying to remember, after each episode, whether THAT actually happened in the books or not.  The discussions are nearly as entertaining as the actual show.)
BTW - Spencer won his game 35-0.  His team is stacked.  These boys are going to be SUPER fun to watch for the next 4 years.  The head varsity coach has come to both the Freshmen games instead of the JV games.  I think he's looking forward to watching this guys for the next 4 years too!

Zane and Beck both have games this Saturday at 9 am.  It's a divide-and-conquer Saturday morning.  Not my favorite, but it DOES mean we will be done with our commitments by early afternoon!

Have a great week everyone - if you are in Irma's path, stay safe!  That storm is nothing to mess with...


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Picture of the Week - 8/31/2017

Hi all!

I'm totally celebrating today!  Today should be a holiday.  It's finally the start of College football season AND Spencer plays his first official high school football game tonight with the rest of the freshmen team against Milton.  I'm ridiculously excited to watch him (even if I will also be more than a little nervous about that shoulder...) and then we get to come home and watch the Buckeyes.  Holiday worthy for sure!!!

Here's our annual O H I O picture of the boys.  Love these!  (The pictures AND the boys!!!)

Here's another picture from Jiu Jitsu this week.  Zane earned his first stripe this week.  He was so excited.  It still surprises Bob and I about how much they love JJ.  We really thought it would just be a way to spend the summer, but those guys really love going.  It's adorable - and they are learning a ton!

Have a great week everyone!  Go West!  Go Buckeyes!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Picture of the Week - 8/24/2017

Hi all

I'm still in Scotland and working my way successfully through back-to-back (almost without break) meetings for the last 3.5 days.  I've got about half a day left in the office and then one more night before I get to head back home.  I'm really looking forward to calling that cab to the airport tomorrow morning!

I thought I'd keep the words at a minimum today (mostly because I have almost no time for personal stuff this week...) and share some pictures.  The first couple are of my boys from my mom.  She and my dad have chipped in to help Bob get through the last couple of weeks and I love when she texts me little reminders of what's waiting for me at home!

I also thought I'd share a few pictures from my walk to work.  No famous buildings here...  just what the city of Edinburgh looks like.  I like that particular roundabout because the center has a whole garden in the middle.  And I assure you that not all streets are cobblestone, but there are quite a lot of them around the city.  That makes me glad that I don't wear heels!

The last 2 pictures are of my office building - it's the one with the big glass dome.  I don't work in an old, historic building.  It's much more modern.  Lots of glass and open spaces.  It's actually a pretty cool office...

Hope you are all well!  This weekend the little boys both play their first football game!  And Spencer has his first freshman game on Thursday night.  Yay football!!!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Picture of the Week - 8/17/2017

Growth is spurt-y...

Have you ever noticed that growth comes in spurts?  I think this is true of most growth, but I'm certainly not an expert.  I know physical growth comes in spurts.  For me, spiritual growth comes in spurts too.  And learning.  Definitely learning.  

We happen to be in the middle of a giant growth spurt right now.  It's probably the biggest and swiftest expansion in our personal network that has happened in a long, long time.  Maybe ever.  Certainly since we move to a new state and were forced to meet all new people.  

We are building our number of acquaintances at a very rapid pace right now - all thanks to youth sports.  We have 4 new teams of people to meet, get to know, get to like, get to enjoy.  I LOVE that about athletics.  LOVE IT! 

Youth sports can bring out the crazy in some people, but for the vast majority of us, we just enjoy watching our kids and socializing on the sidelines.  And when you have 4 kids, you get the benefits of sports-related friendships - times 4.  

Beckett is being coached by Zane's football coach from last year.  So we know some of those people, but we also get to meet half a team full of new families and kids.  And Beckett gets the benefit of some of the kids knowing him already and instantly accepting him - even though he's one of only a couple of Kindergartners on his team.  

There are about 9 kids on Zane's team we've played with before.  This is pretty cool because this is the 3rd year together for most of that group.  It's so comforting, particularly given how many people live in our area and how fast the pace is for everyone these days, that we instantly have those friendly faces.  That benefit of shared experience.  That community.

Speaking of community, there's Quinn.  Lacrosse is kind of like a second home for all of us.  Over the past few months, because of an increase in involvement in the youth program AND because of a new high schooler, we have gotten linked up with the high school coaches.  We are starting to get to know these men who will be a part of our lives for the next 15 years.  (Unless of course someone moves on...)  This is the entry point to a long term relationship.  And it's pretty cool.  And then the rest of our lacrosse family.  Goodness - what good people and what good friends.  There's almost no distinction any more between our "lacrosse people" and "our people".  LOVE THAT!

Spencer's move to high school has changed our network in some pretty surprising ways.  Although looking back at it a little, I'm not really sure why I'm surprised at all.  I should have expected this.  We have 2 different middle schools that combine into our high school.  These kids were rivals last season - they are teammates now.  It's actually really, really cool to see how easy it's been for them to shed the rivalry and link together.  Spencer, in particular, has pleasantly surprised me with his ability to be a bridge between "camps".  This is YET ANOTHER one of those "kid teaches parent" things were we have dove into new relationships with people we've been around, but not with, for 9 years.  

Sports bring people together.  

Last Friday was the first high school scrimmage of the year.  It was the first time Spencer got to play in a high school game under Friday night lights.  He won't get another opportunity until at least next year.  It was so much fun!  I can't even count how many people we ran into that I would call friends.  It was like a giant party - with a nice side-dish of football.  So much fun!

Tomorrow i'm heading over to Scotland for the week.  I'm not very excited about it at all.  I miss so much while I'm gone.  I purposely scheduled this quarter's trip so I wouldn't miss any games, but I will miss all the daily chaos.  And the hugs.  Definitely the hugs.  

Here're some pictures of the little guys in there new jerseys.  They are numbers #23 and #44 this year.  Super random.  Don't you love their game faces???

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Picture of the Week - 8/10/2017

I'm officially naming this season of my life the "Post-it Note" Phase.  

There are a couple of reasons that I've settled on the PIN Phase.  The first one is probably pretty obvious...  I'm surrounded by Post-it Notes!  These gems have a wide variety of super random To Dos on them.  Most are at least partially crossed off, but typically have some straggler tasks that i drag around from one note to the next.  You know those pesky tasks that you want to do - or know you need to do - but then have a hard time actually DOING.  Like "Order pictures" which has appeared on every Post-it Note To Do list for the last 6 months.  #winning

The thing about the reminder notes is that I really REALLY need them these days.  The stuff that needs to get done is spread across work, kids, home, school, volunteer, sports, shopping, etc etc etc.  We all have this.  I'm not unique.  Post-it reminders are the only way for me to focus in on what should get done in the brief periods of time available to actually DO STUFF.  I got to work early today.  Like 6:20...  no one was here.  No meetings this early.  Blissfully quiet.  I spent 15 minutes buying Amazon Pantry Items.  Job done - knocked 3 things off our shopping list and one off my green Post-it Note.  

(Side note for anyone with small kids...  it's hard to keep up with toiletries and their status of Full-to-Empty when you have teenagers who do all those tasks themselves.  Also - teenagers don't tell you they need stuff until the stuff is completely gone.  It's fun.)

Nice Post-it Note benefit...  I have had to prep several meetings/conferences for work in the past.  One of my favorite things to do with a group of participants to get them talking is to make them write on Post-it Notes with Sharpies.  I mean, really, who doesn't love a fresh Sharpie?  And if I can get them writing on Post-it Notes (which we always actually POST in a central spot) it's a great conversation starter.  This has left me with a vast array of half-used, multi-colored Post-it Note pads.  This is particularly nice in my current PIN Phase because sometimes I feel like a blue note and sometimes I feel more pink.  Using the standard yellow all the time might be depressing.  LOL

The other, and actually more significant, reason for my desire to name this craziness that we call our "routine" the Post-it Note Phase is that I can probably fit the details of 95% of the conversations and interactions I have with the people I love most onto a standard-sized Post-it Note.  I hardly see these people.  It's only week 2 of school and I'm already depressed about the loss of those interactions.  I feel we are barely communicating - much less actually connecting.  We pass each other heading in different directions.  We do hugs or cuddles or high fives.  That's pretty much it.  

Bob and I are doing divide-and-conquer almost every day.  Sometimes we get a Saturday afternoon together.  Or the ride to church and back.  There are things we need to talk about.  Stuff that needs to be decided.  (Nothing bad at all...  just normal stuff - you know, should we rebuild the deck?  when do you want to buy new carpet?  who is picking up which kid?  do we need an inspire pick-up?  do we have any lunchmeat left? HAVE YOU FOUND  THE SNAKE?)  We communicate in text messages and Post-it Note sized tidbits of conversation.  It sucks.  I'm not a fan of our current schedule.  At all.  

So PIN Phase...  I shall survive you, but I am not enjoying this right now.  Maybe if I can figure out a way to get the To Do list Post-it notes down to the mini-size and the connection Post-it notes up to the 3x5 size...  #lifegoals

Here's a sweet pictures of Zane before his face broke out in a nasty infection last week.  He picked up something from either camp or his football helmet.  I think whatever it was came from the helmet because it was only on his face.  He's totally fine now (or nearly) after some antibiotics.  

Have a good week everyone.  We get to watch Spencer play in his first high school football scrimmage tomorrow night.  Next week fall lacrosse starts up.  Wish us logistical luck...  it's gonna be interesting!