Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WW- The Last of Summer


Never lose an opportunity
of seeing anything
beautiful, for beauty is
God's handwriting.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


Friday, September 12, 2014

It's Here!

The night (and days) are getting colder and colder. This past week we've barely made it out of the 50s. Days are filled with school and afternoons are packed with homework. After the warm ease of summer it is enough to make the kids cry. There is one thing that makes it all bearable.  

Football. 

Both Todd and I come from football families. My dad was a pretty big deal around here. He played on the only undefeated football team in his college's history (Mission House- now Lakeland College). Then he went on to play semi professional football for the Redwings. The Packers got wind of my dad and wanted him to try out just as my dad got drafted into the army during the Korean War. Todd's dad was a fantastic football player in high school (and Todd never knew it until he was going through his dad's old year book and read, "Twinkle, twinkle football star, what a bashful boy you are") and received full ride football scholarships to Marquette (who had a football team at the time) and Madison (to play for the Badgers). Then of course there is Todd. First team all conference in high school and college. Needless to say we are a football family. If there would be a women's football team around here there is NO DOUBT I would have wanted to be on it. 

We love football. And, apparently, so do our kids.

The boys wait anxiously all year for football season to roll around and this year was especially exciting.  This was Ben's first year being able to play flag football. For four years Ben had to traipse with us to Joey's and Tommy's flag football games and finally, FINALLY, it was his turn. Each week since I signed Ben up in June he would ask how many days until football started. 
Finally Ben gets Coach Daddy all to himself. The past few weeks Todd and Ben would go off together to the practices and this past Monday Ben had his first game. Never mind that the teams don't keep score. Never mind that it doesn't even follow a regular flow of a game just yet (each team gets 6 plays and then they switch). This was a big deal.  All day long Ben told his teachers and classmates that he had a big game tonight. It was too sweet for words.

The "Big Game" came and Ben did great. He stole flags, he hiked the ball, he even got a touchdown. I am so happy to say that the first game expectations really lived up to the hype. Ben had a blast.
This football season is a big deal for the two older boys as well. Todd and I broke down and finally decided to let them join tackle football. We talked to the program directors and really liked how instructional and supportive the tackle league is. Part of me thought that Tommy might be a little young for tackle but Todd assured me that the 4th grade level was fairly gentle.

I must admit that after watching Tommy in practice I am now more concerned about Tommy hurting someone else than Tommy getting hurt. That kid knows what he is doing and he loves to hit. He has such natural athletic ability and no fear. 
At practice Tommy made the tackle on almost every single play. I'm not even exaggerating. Almost every. Single. Play. The coaches were really getting a kick out of watching Tommy.

Last Saturday Tommy had his first tackle football game and he was all business out on that field. The other team couldn't get any yardage because Tommy was making every tackle. The other team double teamed Tommy and he'd still make the tackle. No matter where that ball went number 4 was on it, flinging himself into every tackle. He was in heaven! And I was in heaven watching him help the tackled opponents up and pat them on the back. Warmed this mama's heart to see what a compassionate player he is.
Joey is on the 6th grade north side tackle football team. It is a fairly large team (about 40 players) and Joey is one of only a few new players. I know it was intimidating for him, being the new guy, trying to learn all the plays, all the different positions, but he threw himself into the practices full bore. At his very first practice the kids did calisthenics for close to an hour before they even got to drills. When I saw the kids doing push ups I assumed Joey would have a tough time since he was never a fan of push ups. Yet I watched as Joey did 20 push ups in full pads. I was amazed. As Joey ran over to me to grab his water I said, "Holy push ups, Joe! Where did that come from?"  Joe just smiled, shrugged, and went about his business. I could tell he was pleased.
At Joey's 1st game a few weeks ago he ran up to me right before the game began and handed me a baby tooth that he had just lost. I must be honest and admit that it choked me up a little bit, watching my oldest run off to join his tackle football team as I held on to one of his last baby teeth. What a juxtaposition between boy and man.
This football season has already done amazing things for Joe. I can physically SEE the confidence Joey is gaining even in just the last few weeks. He began the games a little timidly. Mostly watching and observing. He went from being in for only a few plays to playing most of the game in just 3 weeks. With each game he has grown more and more confident, making plays, making the tackle, helping his team. Before he wanted to do it and now he knows that he can do it. Watching Joey work so hard and feel proud of himself is just priceless.

I have always loved football.  And even though these last few weeks of football schedules has been tough with three boys in practices and games, I am so thankful for it. I'm thankful for the work ethic it helps instill in the boys. I'm thankful for the confidence it is giving them. And I'm thankful that they have proven to themselves that they are capable of more than they thought they were.

And I know, for sure, that somewhere there are two grandpa angels watching, smiling, cheering on, and getting a bang out of their football boys.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wild

I go through waves of reading one book after the other, to reading nothing for months at a time. I guess it all depends on how much spare time I have and how much mental energy I have left once I get to my spare time. This summer I was fortunate enough to be able to read many of the books that had long been on my "must read" list.

Many of the books were good and enjoyable, but there was one book that stood out in my mind. One book that I couldn't stop thinking about long after I'd put it down. One book that inspired me. Floored me. Challenged me. The kind of book that made me want to take off on my own for a once in a lifetime adventure.  

Wild by Cheryl Strayed was that book.  

The story is a biography about 26 year old Cheryl who has just lost her mother, is going through a divorce, and has very little family left. She feels as though she has no direction. She is utterly lost. A chance encounter with a book she sees in a store sparks her adventure hiking alone on the Pacific Crest Trail, a hiking trail that spans from the Mexican border all the way up into Canada. Throughout her journey she finds healing and strength, and truly finds herself again.

It is an amazing story and so well written. The book got in my head so much that I haven't been able to start a new book yet. My thoughts are still so entrenched in this book that I can't begin to take in new characters. The book really moved me. Stuck in me.

If you have not already read this book I HIGHLY suggest you pick it up. ASAP.

***************************************


And now, how about a book meme? Elaine from The Miss-Elaine-ous Life tagged me on Facebook and I liked the challenge so much I thought I'd bring it all to you.  



Normally, I would not participate because I am a big ole rule breaker and nonconformist (or lazy) but this one is about BOOKS so I had to. LIST 10 BOOKS THAT HAVE MADE AN IMPACT ON YOU. DON'T THINK TOO HARD OR TAKE TOO MUCH TIME. THESE ARE NOT NECESSARILY YOUR FAVORITES BUT BOOKS THAT HAVE INFLUENCED YOU.

All 10 (okay, 12- remember the not following rules thing?) of these books are all on my bookshelves right now.

So, here is my list:

The Giving Tree- Shel Silvertstein
Travels With Charley-John Steinbeck
Embraced By The Light- Betty Eadie
The Bible
Wild- Cheryl Strayed
Little House in The Big Woods- Laura Ingalls Wilder
Pride & Prejudice- Jane Austen
What to Expect When You're Expecting- Murkoff, Eidenberg & Hathaway
It- Steven King
Poems- Maya Angelou
What Alice Forgot- Liane Moriarty
The Hobbit- JRR Tolkien

I won't tag anyone but I challenge all of my bloggy friends and readers to participate. I love seeing what books have shaped my friends and I've gotten some great book recommendations out of it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Nerves

I didn't sleep much last night. I'm all tied in knots. I feel sick to my stomach and I've given myself a headache. 

Ahh... the first day of school.

Probably not the typical parent's reaction but it is how I feel none the less.

The kids waffled between excited and disgusted that they had to go back to school. The boys' school just switched to uniforms this year and I thought they looked so handsome. When I told Tommy that his shirt needed to be tucked in his response was, "What is HAPPENING to our school??!!??" It was just the laugh I needed.

Grace is going to a different school this year. The boys' school stopped offering a half day option for kindergarten so we are sending her to the school down the road from us for half days. I know most people have no problem with full day kindergarten but it just seems like such a long day to me. Especially to my super shy girl who JUST turned 5, still takes naps, and had a hard enough time with the three days a week she went to school last year. I understand it works out great if both parents work but for this stay at home mom it just doesn't make any sense.

Still, it is making me kinda sick. The second guessing myself. Apparently, Grace is one of the only kids to do the half day program at the school (and the only kid in her class). I just don't want her to feel different.

And watching her in her new classroom was pretty heartbreaking. She looked so nervous. She was trying so hard to be brave. Makes me cry just thinking about it.  
  
Stupid school.

Why can't I just keep them here with me?

*sigh*

Obligatory 1st Day of School Picture
 Tell me how you really feel about school, kids.

My fabulous quartet. Now in sixth grade, fourth grade, second grade, and kindergarten.

Dear God in heaven,
please be with my children as they start a new year.
Help them to work hard and do their best.
Keep them safe, happy, and healthy.
Give them a love for learning.
Help them to grow in confidence and independence. 
Show them how to be compassionate.
Let them be a friend to all, kind, and loving.
Let their failures motivate them to try harder.
Let their successes humble them.
Help me, Lord, to be patient, understanding, loving, and wise
in guiding them through this school year.
Be with my children, Lord.
Let your light shine in them and through them
and keep them close to You.

Amen

Monday, September 1, 2014

The End

It is officially the end of summer. 

Okay. Not officially. Unofficially. 

Though summer does have a few short weeks left until the fall season OFFICIALLY begins school starts tomorrow. So, for us, it is the end of summer.

Thankfully, we were able to round out the summer with a trip to the county fair, immediately followed by a trip up north to the cabin for the extended weekend. 

It makes me so happy to see that the kids still get excited to climb on to the tractors. That is usually the first place they want to go. I guess some things never change. And to this mama that feels like her kids are growing at warp speed that's a good thing.
We took it easy on the rides this year since we had just visited an amusement park twice in one week and had our fill of fun rides. Still, we couldn't pass them all up. Joey really wanted to go on The Zipper and even though I had been fighting off a stomach bug the last few days I went with him. It probably wasn't the best decision on either of our parts. We were a little worse for the wear after that. However, Joey quickly felt better when he ran into his crush and she accompanied him (and his siblings) into the fun house. He was all smiles after that. 
We gorged ourselves on fair food and made sure we saw each and every cute and fuzzy little (and big) animal. It was a great time at the fair.

Right after the fair we drove up to the cabin. Todd had to drive separately to fit in all the equipment he needed for some repairs he had to do and all the kids drove with me. The drive took longer than normal since there was the world's worst rainstorm. I can't ever recall driving in such crazy rain. And at night! It was pretty crazy. We were very thankful when we finally arrived at the cabin.

True to form this summer, the weather was cold and rainy for the whole weekend. The kids didn't let it bother them. They played in the woods, made a fort, cast off the pier, took the paddle boat out, and sat around a campfire.
Sunday morning we went to church at a small chapel in a town near our cabin. The priest was giving the final blessing before mass let out and said a special prayer for students and teachers. After the prayer he turned to my kids and said, "Are you excited to go back to school?" All four kids shook their heads while Tommy shouted an emphatic, "No!"  That gave the congregation a good laugh. And it made me smile too. I guess the summer couldn't have been too bad if they all don't want it to end.

It was a long drive home from the cabin today. Not only because of the holiday traffic, which was insane, but because of the impending start of school. We just don't want summer to end.

All afternoon I have been a massive whirlwind of running around filling out paperwork, doing laundry, making treats, setting out clothes, ordering showers, writing surprise notes for lunches, and getting supplies ready. Finally, the evening is winding down. The kids are in bed. All is quiet. And I am melancholy.

It may be the end.

But tomorrow is just the beginning.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Not So Hot

Today was the day. We finally had some nice hot weather in the forecast. Hot and humid with a high of close to 90. 
Yes!

Unfortunately, the entire day was filled with thunderstorms.
Boo.

I guess we just weren't meant to get in a lot of swimming this summer. Now I'm REALLY thankful that I dropped everything and took the kids on the only two hot days we had back in July. Just to make myself feel a little better I dug through some of our photos from last month.

It wasn't as hot as we'd have liked but it didn't stop these guys from plowing into the chilly water.
They kids are far tougher than I and lasted all day in the water that I could barely stick a toe in.
When they got too chilly they warmed up by building sand castles.
It all worked out.

And even though this summer wasn't hot enough for swimming we did set up the sprinkler a number of times.
The kids made up games (drip, drip, splash!) and created their own waterslide on the playset.
A few times they even got some treats afterwards.
It may not have been the hottest summer but we managed to squeeze in a little bit of wet summer fun anyway.

School is exactly one week away and though we may not be swimming our way out of summer we will be doing everything possible to eke out the very last drop of golden, summer goodness.

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson