Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy Bears

Such a happy day to be a Bear yesterday!  The girls had their big cheer competition this weekend.  A long day full of cheering, clapping, waiting, cheering, sitting, standing, dancing, sweating, smiling, waiting, cheering....and on and on it goes!

This day is the culmination of a lot of hours of work.  For me, coaching 20 girls and teaching them a dance?  Not an easy task.  I had the joy - JOY! - of having a sweet lady join me this year.  She made the sweet offer of "if you ever need any help....".  And I jumped on it!  It ended up being the start of a great friendship, lots of laughs, and a partner to share both my nerves/stress and joy with.  Without her, this could have been a very different experience for me this year.

This was the moment we realized our girls won!

Beth's squad was prepared and just so cute and happy.  Ya never know how it's going to go on the day, but I knew they were as ready as they could get.  And yeah, yesterday?  They ROCKED it!  It was amazing to watch, and hearing the crowd love them and get into it just warmed me all over inside.  When those 20 girls came running off the floor, Stacy and I hugged them and hugged them and several of us cried and we jumped up and down and high-fived and whooped it up in general.  A pretty special moment to share with those girls!

Much, much later in the day it was finally Brenna's turn!  Those their last year of this program!  That alone put a big lump in my throat.  And then to watch those girls go out and dance their hearts out...I'm so proud of my girl.  Loved watching it and loved cheering for her.  Such composure, such energy and enthusiasm, so much that I admire in a group of 13-year old girls!  I love this group...

And in the end?  Every single Bear squad took home a medal!  I'm so proud of that, it's a reflection of a whole lot of work.

And my girls?  My squad took 1st!!!! 

Brenna's squad took 3rd!  (First in my totally biased opinion!)

I have to say, I have a soft spot in my heart for every single on of those Bears.  But these two Bears?  They are my heart: 

congrats to these sweet girls!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Monday Menu Late On A Wednesday Night Because I'm Craving Chocolate

***I clarified the recipe below!!!

I am a bit worn out.  I think I said that before, but it's worth saying again.  Tonight was the big cheer dress more thing checked off the list before life can settle back a bit.  I'm looking forward to sitting down at the table with my family for dinner again most of all.  I've been coaching four nights a week, and I am tired of the coming and going and going in different directions.  Change is a-comin'!

In the meantime, I am craving - craving - comfort food.  And I was comforted with food in a splendid way this week at work.  For a recent potluck, one genius co-worker made this thing of beauty in a crockpot.  It was CHOCOLATE (comfort food item #1) and it was made in a CROCKPOT (anything out of a crockpot screams "comfort food" to me).  I have no picture of it, which I'm sad about.  Because if I had a picture of it, that would mean that I had some in my house right now, which I don't. 

But I'm going to make it soon.  I'm thinking maybe Friday.  Because, hold on...I think all five of us will be home this Friday night!!!  At least that's what I know as of now.  And Friday is as good a day as any to indulge in something warm, gooey and chocolate.

Don't wrinkle your nose up at it until you've tried it...

Chocolate Lava Cake In A Crockpot

1 Devil's Food cake mix (I'm going to use a chocolate fudge)
1 (5.9 oz) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 (12 oz.) package chocolate chips
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 2/3 cups water
2 cups milk

Spray the crockpot with non-stick spray.

Mix together cake mix, oil, eggs and water.  Pour into crockpot.

Mix pudding and milk until smooth.  Pour on top of cake batter.

Sprinkle chocolate chips over the pudding.

Cover and cook on high for 2 1/3 - 3 hours  for a 4-5 quart crockpot.

Spoon it up into a bowl, and just bliss out and relax.  Then enjoy the rapid free-fall into a sugar coma. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Proof I'm Loved...

So, if you noticed a couple days ago I actually devoted an entire post to a woeful tale of my lack of Saltine Crackers.  Brad went to Costco yesterday without me, and this afternoon when I was looking for something in my pantry, this caught my eye:

Yep, a box of 455 Saltine Crackers tells me two things:

1.  My husband reads my blog.

2.  I'm loved.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Handsome Dude ~ Part Deux

Homecoming 2011 ended up being a two-part wonder for my handsome son.  Last night was his high school's homecoming, and he went with a FUN group!  As I started typing this, it occured to me that I never asked why they didn't go to the dance, but the plan from the beginning was to get all dressed up, go out for a nice dinner, and then just have a fun game night together.  The plans came together in a very teenager-ish way.  Although within the group they were paired off as "dates", it really was just a group of good friends who had a fun night together.  A bunch of nuts, these boys are.  The pictures below will testify to that:

 The beautiful Melanie.  Another small world, Brad and I went to school with her parents!

 Good lookin' kids and all, but look at that glorious sky!

 The boys in all their handsomeness.

 Look's a wink-off.

 Two things this picture doesn't show:  the beautiful Capitol Building as beautiful as it was; how c-c-cold we were.  Melanie's teeth were chattering!

 The cross country boys showing their moves.

 Melanie wanted this picture to show her beautiful hair, I guess!

Two things about the above picture: MY SON ASKED IF I'D LIKE TO TAKE A PICTURE WITH HIM!!  (Pardon me while I wipe a tear.) And...I had come straight from coaching my cheer girls, and was on my way to one last week.  Not that anyone but me cares, but I do not wear that jacket every single Saturday.

The group of parents kind of sort of followed them when they walked to the restaraunt, and it just so happened they were seated right by the big 'ole window.  And I may or may not have gone up to the window and waved wildly so he would turn around so I could get one last picture.

And obviously I love my boy.  And ya know, this boy loves his momma.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Is It Possible to Satiate Their Need For Saltines?

So I am a bit perplexed.  Again.   I know, I am easily perplexed.  It's the unfortunate side effect of over-thinking.

But here's the thing.  I have been so cold the last few days.  So.  Cold.  Our building has been that kind of cold that makes me chill to the bone.  One day it was blamed on the work being done on our alarm system, therefor making "THE SYSTEM" not turn on.  I'm beginning to wonder if we even have "THE SYSTEM" installed in the building at all.  Because "THE SYSTEM" really is code word for "budget cuts and environmental responsibility has led us to the belief that lowering the temperature of the school results in better learning and higher test scores and few discipline issues."  I'm not really quoting anyone, just my over-thinking brain. So I've shivered my way through this week.  And I'm not fond of being cold.  Or hot, actually.  I prefer "just right".

And this has been a bit of a draining week.  Okay, a lot of a draining week.  I'm tuckered out.  Conference week means "opportunities" to take classes in the afternoon, which means by this afternoon I will have worked 8 extra hours in my work week.  Doesn't sound like much, but it feels like much.  Add to that the peak of crazy this week and next getting my girls ready for competition, and whooooosh, there goes my week.

Now I've set the scene.  I'm cold.  I'm tired.  I'm needy.  When I get in such a state, I crave the comfort foods that warm me.  Specifically this week it was tomato soup.  Mmm-hmm. Tomato soup.  From a can.  Made with milk.  The very thought of it propelled me through the day.

I came home and got my soup all ready.  And while it was warming I sought out the proper tomato soup accompaniments.  Saltines.  And I do like to raise the normal saltine routine and use Keebler crackers...their name escapes me but they are cute little rectangles in a green box.  They are buttery and yummy and perfect with my tomato soup.

Well, call me Old Mother Hubbard, because my cupboard was bare.  Of crackers, anyway.  I started to ask the question, "who ate all the...?"  But I stopped myself, because it's really a rhetorical question at this point, one that my kids would mistake for a question they must answer and they would start blaming each other and talking on and on about crackers and then my soup would grow cold and my irritation would grow hot.  And then I would hear the ultimate question back at me:  "well, if you don't want us to eat them, why do you buy them??"  And frankly they have a point.  That's why I don't buy them on a regular basis.  Because the whole cycle would continue as often as I bought them.  My soup would continue to go cracker-less no matter how often I bought them.  Because my kids will eat crackers and eat crackers and eat crackers.  I have come to the conclusion through these years of parenting that it is not humanly possible to satiate my kids' needs for saltines.  I'm putting it on the list of "Things That Will Be Positive About An Empty Nest".  Yep, I will someday again have crackers with my soup.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Post In Which The Pictures Really Should Do All The Talking

Yes, the pictures tell the story well enough, I suppose.  But I am not even going to pretend to kid myself: I have to use words as well.  And yet I suspect that my words will fail to tell the story the way it's written in my heart.  Because this little boy is indeed growing up.  And I love it.  I love it so much, watching glimpses of him as a man.  I see this little boy wearing a tux several times a year.  But last night was special, and it made me feel two things very strongly:  first, I felt very proud.  And right on the heels of that I felt very old.  But mostly proud.  And happy.  And full of gratitude:  that life is just so simple and good right now.  And that he doesn't roll his eyes when I need just one more picture.  And that he lets me run through the long list of "rules" about being a gentleman just one more time.  And that he asks me what I think.  And that he listens.

It is a long story how this sweet date came to be, and it doesn't really matter anymore.  But I'm so happy that he got to take his good friend to a fun dance and have such a great time.  The gorgeous and happy and smart and spunky girl on his arm is a lovely young lady.  I grew up a few houses down from her grandparents (and dad, although I trailed a bit behind in years so don't have a single memory of him).  When I picture her grandparents, I just picture such warm and loving and kind people, and I can clearly see her grandmother's smile in my mind.  I was delighted, de-lighted, when I figured out the connection a couple years ago.  Truly a "small world" moment.  And when Alex decided that he was going to ask her to her homecoming?  The delight was just as strong.

(See?  I knew I couldn't just post pictures!)

Now for the fun night:  so many stories.

(This would be a good time to rub your eyes and re-set your focus.  This is a long one.) 

The rented vest and tie to go with his tux?  Beautiful compliment to her dress, horrible fit on the vest.  We took it in to see if they could help make it fit better.  Long story, but in the end, the lady said, "Don't worry, you'll look fine.  It will be dark in there."  I told her I didn't like that she said that.  And she was wrong, wrong, wrong.  He looked just as handsome as could be, even in the beautiful daylight! 

First up was to go meet up with the group and meet the limo!

false alarm ~ this provided temporary excitement, but not their group's limo!

meeting up for the slightly awkward flower exchange.  he wasn't entirely sure what he was expected to do, so after he got it out, he said, "Here," and handed it to her!  Pretty cute moment.

McKenzie knew just what to do...

...errr, maybe not so much.

Mom to the rescue!!  (And I LOVE this mom.  She grilled my son the night before: "Do you have clean black shoes?  Black socks?  Did you pick up your vest and tie?  I'm so glad you got your haircut, it looks much better!"  He got a big kick out of it.)

Then it was time for the required picture posing:

All set to pile into the limo and head off for more pictures!

Next stop was a park by the lake to take some more posed shots:

And I Loooove the shots in between the posed shots.  These two laughed and laughed...


I love laughter...

One of my favorites:

Back in the limo to head for dinner:

McKenzie's mom followed them to dinner to "get a picture".  But also to hop in the limo for a ride while the kids were eating! 

After dinner they headed over to the dance, which apparently was a great time and Alex did his best to dance with her a bunch! 

Then after the dance a group of them went bowling...a fun way to end a great evening!

Sweet friends had a fun evening together, and this momma loved every moment!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Merry Christmas!?

It's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas!  Well, in my house it is.  This is Day 3 of listening to Jingle Bells.  Over and over and over and over.  On the clarinet.  I think it's Jingle Bells, anyway.  I just may need a little eggnog in the near future.  For celebrating Christmas, you know.

So rather than fight the ambiance of my house, I'm embracing it.  I must say it's a catchy little tune.  And it really is one of the things on my "must do" ride on a one-horse open sleigh through the snow.  Well, it can be a four-horse open sleigh.  I'd feel better if one horse wasn't solely responsible for pulling me around in the snow.

So as part of my embracing, I decided to play on pinterest while I listened to Jingle Bells.  Sorry laundry.  Sorry everything else that is waiting for me.  You will be taken care of in time.  In time for something.  But my time right now is just going to be wasted a bit while I clear my head and get ready for Christmas.  When I shut down pinterest, I was a bit surprised to turn around and see bright green grass where my Christmas mind expected snow.

I'd really like to go here and ride on that sleigh.  Cozy, huh?

This has nothing to do with Christmas, but since it's not really Christmas yet, I can combine it in here, right?  Love this. 

Now my clarinet player extraordinaire has wandered into the room, music stand in one hand, clarinet in the other, to give me a "one person concert".  Apparently she doesn't realize how well I've heard it all along.  Time to go be an engaged audience member!

Let me be the first to wish you Merry Christmas!  And Happy Festivus!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Apparently I'm Now A Weekly Blogger

So I'm going to just accept the obvious:  my blogging has been lacking.  I know I'm going to regret not getting on here things I never wanted to forget, because I surely will forget them.  But then maybe I won't remember that I forgot anything, because I forgot??  I don't know about that.  I just know that I have surrendered to the crazy schedule, embraced it even, and let things fall that need to fall.  We are eating a lot more thrown-together meals lately. I am doing laundry based on what we must have the next day, and some of it just sits for awhile waiting to be needed.  But I know this craziness comes in waves, and I just need to ride the wave.  It will calm.  Or at least the wave will crash and I'll hop on a new one.  I don't know why I'm talking about waves.  Maybe because I recently saw Soul Surfer for the second time.  Cried as much the second time as the first.  And it confirmed within me the validity of one of my reasons for not being surrounded by only water.

Anyway, I'm going to ramble away in the form of a list!

1.  Beth continues to plug away at the clarinet.  I think she was a bit dismayed that she couldn't pick it up and immediately play along with the music in her head.  But she's a pretty tenacious kid, she'll get there.  If she chooses to go there.

2.  In two months, I have had only 3 practices with all 20 of my girls. I have had no game with all of them there.  It is a bit stressful to teach them this dance....oh, I'm not even going to go there, because I do feel my pulse pick up when I start to talk about it.  But they are so doggone cute.  If they can pull this dance off, they will make a lot of people smile.  Mostly me.

3.  The little people I get to hang around everyday and so funny.  One little first grade boy told me, "I like how smooth you got your hair today. It looks much better than yesterday."  Then he asked me if I got it that smooth by using "one of those things that can burn you".  Sweet.  Maybe he's the next Vidal Sassoon?  I don't even know if I spelled that right.

4.  Brenna is in 8th grade.  I just have to say that from time-to-time so I will start believing it.  Cuz I really picture that girl quite smaller than she is.  She is doing a fantastic job in school, happily surprising me around every corner.  Friends are calling her for math help!  Wowzers.

5.  Alex has retained his spot in the top 7 Varsity group for this entire season so far.  I'm so proud of his hard work.  He ran his first 5K in under 18 minutes last week.  I mean really, now.  His coach referred to him as "The poster child for hard work".  That feels so good to hear, so thankful for where we've come together.

6.  I now have to choreograph a dance for another squad on Tuesday.  I'm now so far out of my box that the box has been hauled off with the recycling.  I'm happy to help, I'm sorry to give up the mental energy and time.  Temporary.  It's temporary.

7.  Today we met Alex's date to pick out his accessory package for his tux.  Let me rephrase that.  Today we met Alex's date to approve the accessories she picked out for Alex to wear with his tux.  She is a beautiful, smart, spunky girl.  Love her, and my little boy is going to look smashingly handsome in his jazzed up tux with this beautiful girl on his arm!  I got a bit teary-eyed, yes I did.  Oh, and she sent Alex a text letting him know that she wanted him to dance with her, not stand along the side and look awkward.  How much do you love that?  He replied that he would do his best!  He'll do great.  I will, no matter the craziness, take the time to blog all those fun pictures and stories! 

8.  I made a yummy, yummy pumpkin pull-apart this weekend that just warms my heart to remember.  The smell of it cooking, the taste of will have to be a recipe that I post soon.

9.  I quite love the blustery weather that is blowing in and out.  Very Fall-ish.  I'm a big fan of the weather matching the season we are in.  Hello, sweet Fall.  Hello, apple cider.  Hello, pumpkin bread.  Hello, cozy blankets.  Love it.

10.  The Seahawks almost pulled off a beautiful thing today.  They still made it fun.  Win, lose, whatever.  I love them.

11.  The Amazing Race started last week.  I saw a bit of it last week, now I'm listening but not watching.  Now it's time to go watch.

12.  The end.