Thursday, December 28, 2017

Picture of the Week - 12/28/2017

We are streeettttttccccccchhhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnngggggggg out the Christmas magic for as long as we can!

By shifting into DISNEY MAGIC mode!!!

I can hardly even believe we pulled it off, but we DID!  We surprised the boys with a trip to Disney World as part of their Christmas gifts.  So FUN!  I made them jump threw an elaborate scavenger hunt to find clues and gifts with words on them that spelled out "We are going to Disney World on Saturday"!  I think I am just as excited as they are!

I was packing today with Quinn and he reminded me of some Disney Magic that we had sprinkled around the last time we went to WDW - which was over 5 years ago!  I had forgotten ALL about this, but he remembered.  Because magic is MEMORABLE!  Several months before our last trip Quinn lost his favorite stuffed animal friend, Stegie.  We looked everywhere for that stuff stegosaurus and could not find him.  Quinn was VERY sad...  During a purge of stuff out of the toy room, Bob and I found him!  We were thrilled - and also feeling mischievous.  So instead of giving Stegie back to Quinn, we hid him and smuggled him into our Disney house, where Quinn "found" him waiting on his bed.  He was flabbergasted  - and totally bought the "Disney Magic" explanation.  And he still remembers it all this time later.  

I love that!  

I can't wait to make more memories with these boys next week in Disney (and LegoLand).  And I am so excited that Berber and Pappy are coming with us!!

Here's one of my favorite pictures from Christmas.  It's a repeat if you follow me on Facebook, but it's worth repeating.  

Go make some memories!!!  Have a very Happy (and safe) New Year!!!  Catch ya in 2018!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Picture of the Week - 12/21/2017


A LOT of stuff has happened since last weeks email.  This has been one weird - and mostly good - week.

As I'm sitting here with a glass of wine and really want to go plop on the couch beside Bob for a while, I'll make this a new-sy kind of update and  leave the philosophy for another day!

Since we last "spoke"...

- I had surgery on my eye again on Friday.  I'm still messing with this droopy eye.  I had it fixed last November and it looked way better than it started, but still looked pretty different than the "good" side.  So we did a different procedure this time and I *think* once the swelling is gone and the stitches all heal and I look a bit less like Frankenstein, I'm going  to be really happy.  The recovery for this one was much easier than the last procedure, which was great!  But it still sorta knocked me on my butt last Saturday.  

- While I was applying cold compresses on Saturday, Spencer and Bob were at a wrestling tournament.  For this one, Spence got to wrestle at 195 lbs, which is his "real" weight class.  He did really well and ended the day in 4th place with a 3-2 record.  The 2 losses were both to the same guy.  There were 11 guys in his weight class.  The first time the guy beat him, he got pinned in about 35 seconds.  The second time, they went to the 3rd period, so Spencer definitely improved.  Tomorrow he's going to a BIG tournament down here.  It's a 2 day deal and he'll be at 195 again.  We're taking all the kids to watch him tomorrow (except Zane*) and hopefully it will be another fun day for him.  

*Zane is staying home to go to a Minecraft coding camp at the High School.  I think he's almost as excited about this camp as he is about Christmas!

- On Sunday we got 2 new members of the family - a couple of Guinea Pigs we've named Phineas and Ferb.  They are adorable.  We are all kind of smitten with them.  Quinn likes to put one on his shoulder and carries him around nearly everywhere.  The boys aren't even phased by the fact that these guys are poop machines.  LOL  Ozzie hates them.  Or maybe he's afraid of them.  He's been a nervous wreck since they got here.  Willow could care less.

- On Sunday we also got to watch Quinn play a lacrosse game.  He's definitely got more of a temper now than he used to.  I guess testosterone will do that to you!  At one point he got a penalty - then mouthed off about it - and got an extra minutes.  LOL  I kinda love the  fire!

- Somewhere in there we discovered that the truck wouldn't run.  So we left it parked with a plan to get it to the shop on Monday.

- Sunday night we got to go out to dinner and a concert with my mom and dad.  We had gotten my mom some concert tickets for her birthday and it was SUCH a cool night.  We went to a Korean barbecue restaurant and then watched a really cool Christmas concert with For King and Country and Casting Crowns.  Such a fun night!

- Monday we did the work thing, Bob went to Beckett's holiday party, and we found out the truck needed 6000 worth of transmission work.  BLAH

- Tuesday Bob went to Zane's holiday party while I took Quinn for a check-up at the scoliosis clinic*.  Then we went car shopping.  I test drove a bunch of different options and picked a car we thought we wanted.  Of course when we went to test drive it, the battery was dead.  So back home we went with a plan to revisit the next day.

*Way more on the scoliosis thing next week.  Short story is that his curves are worse than they were last year.  He has 3 instead of 2 and they are all more curvy.  So we need to go see a specialist.  I was, honestly, shocked because to me he didn't look any worse than he had before.  Oh well...  we have an appointment with an orthopedic scoliosis specialist next Wednesday.

(We were still trying to work through all of these distractions.  Work...  BLAH!)

- Wednesday Bob and I both put in a few hours at our jobs and then headed back to Carmax.  (BTW - This is the second time we've used Carmax and I really couldn't recommend them any more highly.  It's an easy experience.  No pressure.  We love them!)  I bought a black 2014 Infinity Q50.  I love it.  To say it's a step up from the 13 year old truck is about the biggest understatement of the decade.  

- Today we did the work thing again, gather up the big boys - who both got out of school early today because they had finished their exams, and had a lovely lunch with them.  Then I had an appointment with the eye doctor.  After that pleasant experience (seriously, does anyone enjoy getting stitches OUT???) we drew names and let the boys shop for their annual gifts to each other.  This year I had Quinn and Zane and Target.  LOL  We had fun!  Knocked over a whole display of wrapping paper.  Bought WAY too many bags of holiday M&Ms and giggled through the store.  Goodness I love those boys!

I am SO excited for Christmas!!!

Before we get there though...  we have MORE stuff going on!
- Tomorrow is wrestling day (and somehow I need to find time  to grocery shop or there's going to be a mutiny...)
- Saturday is WAY up in the air because our plans will depend on how Spencer does in the tournament tomorrow.  It also will, hopefully, include our Church service and our traditional Christmas Eve-Eve Mexican dinner if we can squeeze it in!  (If not, concession food it is...)
- Sunday we get to go to my sister's for our annual Christmas Eve brunch and then we are going to see Star Wars.  One of my favorite days of the year!
- And of course Monday is Christmas.  I can't WAIT to share some of the secrets that we have wrapped under that tree!

I wish you all the Merriest Christmas!  Enjoy those around you!  It's such a special - and kinda nutty - time of year!!  I love it!


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Picture of the Week - 12/14/2017

The countdown is definitely ON for Christmas!!!  I can't wait!

Let's see....  what's new....

I finally got home LATE last Friday to half a FOOT of snow!  Craziness!!  The forecasters knew it would be cold enough to snow, but totally missed on the moisture content in the air.  They predicted no more than a dusting.  They were really wrong!  It was unbelievably beautiful!  I had plenty of time to admire the sites during my drive home from the airport in the dark on Friday.  LOL  Bright side - the only other vehicle out that night was a salt truck so traffic was a breeze!

We had a blessedly quiet weekend due to basically everything being cancelled because of the snow.  It was kind of awesome!  I baked and cuddled and cooked and relaxed and hugged and did a mountain of laundry.  

This week has be awesome!  Bob and I took a couple of days off work to celebrate Bob's birthday and to prep for Christmas and hang out together.  Nothing says love like a mid-week Chinese food lunch date.  :) 

Tonight I'm going out with some friends.  Tomorrow I'm having a wee bit of surgery done on my eye again.  Hoping it heals up quickly because we have a weekend full of wrestling (which I'm skipping, I think, even though Spence is finally getting an opportunity to wrestle in his own weight class (195) instead of wrestling up) and lacrosse on Sunday.  Then Sunday evening we are going to a Christmas music concert.  I can't wait!

It's going to be Christmas and Smiles and more Cuddles in NO TIME!

Here are a couple of holiday pictures to enjoy.  The first is from Friday night in the snow.  Definitely not something you see every year here!  There's our traditional Santa Hat picture - which I am probably going to make them redo because Quinn, who was dressed for a band concert, looks a little too morbid for a Christmas picture.  And finally a picture of Spencer and his girlfriend Ava on "ugly sweater day" at church.  Too funny!

Have a great week everyone! 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Picture of the Week - 12/7/2017

 Greetings all!

I'm wrapping up another Scotland trip tonight.  One more night to get through and then the trek back home starts tomorrow.  I should get home just in time for another busy weekend of sports stuff and then I can finally start to get into the holiday spirit!  Yay!

Last weekend, I missed Zane and Beckett's first jiu jitsu tournament.  They had so much fun and are so excited to do their next one.  Yay!  They both brought home some medals.  Beck came in 3rd in both of his brackets - which were actually the beginner brackets and not the novice bracket because there weren't any other 55 lb 6 year old novices at the tournament.  LOL  He held his own.  Zane got a second and third place and earned his Grey bar.  He's super motivated to get a few more stripes so he can get his grey belt.  

Here's a cute picture of the boys and their hardware.  Stay tuned for more holiday fun updates!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Picture of the Week - 11/30/2017

Is there any time of year that's more filled with traditions than the weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year?  

Traditions are pretty powerful.  Some of them I adore (Burt's Pumpkin Patch) and some of them I abhor (dying Easter Eggs).  I guess most traditions that I can think of are annual events - and therefore lend themselves to measuring the passage of time.  

We have an ornament tradition that my mom started before we were even married.  For those playing along, the first year for this tradition was 1996.  For that year - and each year after - we get a new ornament for Christmas with a "family" picture on it from the year.  These ornaments have seen our family grow in both size and number.  And this box of ornaments has become one of my most prized possessions.  I love looking back at how things have changed over the years.  (Even if a few of those remember me how YOUNG we were when this whole thing started!)

What's your favorite tradition???

I'm off tomorrow for my quarterly trip to Scotland.  It's a terrible time of year to be going.  It's cold over there (I hate being cold) and there's so much that needs to be done around here to get ready for the holidays.  Thankfully most of my shopping is done, but that's then there's wrapping and baking and cleaning and cooking.  And wrestling...  SO. MUCH. WRESTLING.  I had no idea how involved a "proper" wrestling season is, but we're learning fast.  Spencer is still wrestling varsity.  He's at a tournament of some kind every weekend (all of them...) from now until mid-January.  Wow!

Have a great week everyone - enjoy all your special seasonal traditions!  

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!