Three Kids and a Dog

Monday, July 24, 2017

Austen's First Sleep Away Camp

Heading to check in
Austen's headed to 5th Grade this year so it only seemed appropriate that he have his first sleep away camp experience this summer. I loved sleep away camp - often begging my parents to let me go more than just one week. I think it's a great first step at independence and having to be a wee bit responsible for yourself and your things.

After getting back from Italy, I was sure he was ready too. Just four days later I was packing him up again and sending him off to Northwestern University's soccer camp. It was only a four day camp so I thought it was perfect for his first time. He knew his roommate (from his soccer team) and his next door neighbors and he also had the opportunity to make new friends.

So on Thursday, I drove the hour or so up to Evanston to drop him off. Checked him in and made his bed before showing him the cafeteria and the camp store. He barely said goodbye to me before heading off with his friends. That was a good sign he was going to be just fine. Each day we were allowed to attend their league games at night too so Tom and I planned to go on Friday and watch him play so I knew I'd see him then too. A good check in point to make sure he was okay (and he was). Uncle Bob (an NU alum even came out for that one). He didn't score any goals that day but he got close playing mostly an outside midfield position.

Saturday we decided to head to the beach instead of attending his games (giving him a little breathing space) and the girls really didn't want to go see him play. However, he started scoring heavily on Saturday (based on other parents texts who attended) and leading his team to a whole host of wins in the afternoon and evening matches.

Sunday morning before check out the playoffs started, he scored many goals before losing to the eventual champions. His coach said that he asked him what he normally played and he said outside midfield but the coach said he thought Austen was more of a striker and when he put him there he just started scoring. It's what I've said all along. Austen can play anywhere but when they put him in defense many of the teams he plays on or subs for lose something. He's definitely a center midfielder or a forward. He's got a shot, speed and moves that make him dangerous on offense. It'll be interesting to see where his new traveling club coach puts him this season.

Anyway, at the closing ceremonies, each coach picks an MVP for their team. Austen won that honor for his team (El Salvador) and his name was announced at closing ceremonies. Pretty cool. Pretty cool camp with a pretty cool location (right on the lakefront) for your first sleep away camp experience. Plus he walked away with many new friends. All in all a successful first sleep away camp experience.

A little foreshadowing of college - Austen's dorm bed

Austen and his roommate ready for their moms to leave

See ya moms!

NU soccer field right on the lakefront

Austen and his Coach - Evan

Austen with his MVP ball and NU Head Men's Soccer Coach Tim Lenehan

Austen playing one of his games
Austen's Team - El Salvador

I caught Uncle Bob (NU Alum) sitting in an IU chair!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Italy 2017

Twenty-nine years ago, I traveled to Sweden and Denmark to play soccer. I was 14 and it was an experience I'll always remember - especially winning the Copenhagen Cup. There is nothing like hearing your national anthem played in a foreign country after you've won a big game. I'll remember that forever.

I wanted Austen to have that opportunity too even though I wanted him to be a little bit older than 10. Sometimes you can't pick when those opportunities arise though so ultimately Tom and I decided that it would be a great experience for him as many of his good soccer friends and their parent(s) - who I really like - were going.

And what a trip it was! We were gone for 9 days. Flying into Rome, we visited the Vatican, saw the Sistine Chapel, attended a blessing by the Pope and toured St. Peter's Basilica. The next day we knocked out the Coliseum, the Forum, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps.

After that it was off to San Marino to play. Austen did really well as one of the younger players attending the tournament scoring two beautiful goals and adding an assist. The competition was pretty level and we won games against Morocco and Italy but letting a close one go against another Italian team and falling to a NY team. I think we could've beaten them all actually but the heat (which was a scorching 95 degrees), the ability to only be able to sub the same player out once during the match, and the fact that their team was a mixture of a few different levels of players ultimately did them in. Still what an amazing experience for them - to see how other countries play soccer, to walk in the opening ceremonies behind the U.S. flag, to tour a winery and swim in the Adriatic Sea. Amazing.

And, still there was more before we came home - a trip to Venice where we took a gondola through the city, walked up the Rialto Bridge, saw Doge's Palace and shopped in their many fine stores.

It was a great trip. A great time with Austen. A great memory for both of us. And as much fun as I had when I was 14 (but this time as a soccer mom instead of a soccer player). 

Vatican on the First Day

Austen and his teammates at Trevi Fountain
The Coliseum

Before Game Bows
After Game Picture

Opening Ceremony

Some Fun and the Sea (Adriatic)
Beach Time with the Team

A Real Italian Winery!
That Kid - Always with a Ball in His Hand

The View from the top of San Marino

Gondola Time!

Lots of Gelato (in Venice)!

Sunday, July 09, 2017

4th of July 2017

Last 4th of July we were just getting back from Boston, but this 4th of July we were able to enjoy a nice long weekend home attending barbecues, playing mini golf and spending some time at the pool before celebrating America's birthday. The 4th of July might actually be one of my favorite holidays. I love the laid backness of it especially if it includes a beach house (hopefully someday soon), warm weather and friends/family. Even attending the the 4th of July parade has grown on me now that I have kids (even though I think it gets lamer every year). In fact, I think I've been to some parade every year since Austen was 18 months old. So it was no surprise that our first stop off on this 4th of July was the local parade.

Once again this year, Peyton and Tom were in the parade walking with their Indian Princess (think Girl Scouts but with dads) tribe. Hailey joined them this year too which was neat for her since she's always wanting to go with Tom and Peyton  and do the same things as her big sister. That left Austen and I to find seats at the end of the route and wait until they came through which took about an hour in the hot sun!

The rest of the day was spent getting ready for our neighborhood festivities as many of our neighbors get together for some food, drink and fireworks. The kids ate way too many desserts, played with their friends and enjoyed another late night under the stars until the start of the fireworks show. Hailey thoroughly enjoyed all the colors in the sky this year telling us that most of the fireworks looked like Mickey Mouse (she's obsessed with him). Good thing we're heading to Disneyland in the near future! And then before we knew it, another 4th of July went down in the books. Here's hoping next year we're at the beach!
Bbque at friend's house

Off to parade with Hailey in tow

Waiting for parade selfie!

Parade participants!
There she is!

After parade snack

Red, white, blue with a big Bernese!

I'm getting sleepy!

Monday, July 03, 2017

The Night We Went to the Sox Game

Austen watching the game intently
Last week, Papa invited our family to the Chicago White Sox game. The weather had been threatening to storm all week but the showers were spotty and the sun was shining most of the time and the summer was slowly slipping by since it was almost 4th of July so we took a chance. We went. With Hailey too. We asked her if she wanted to stay home with a babysitter and she said, "I want to go see the Chicago White Sox too!" So we took her.

We picked up Austen early from soccer practice and headed downtown arriving just at game time. But when we reached our seats we noticed the tarp was still on the field. Bad weather was expected in the area so they weren't pulling off the tarp anytime soon. They were right. It started to rain. Hard. It rained off and on for 2 1/2 hours. We sat there. And Waited. Finally at 10pm, the umpire gave the all clear. And the Chicago White Sox took the field much to the cheering of my children who were all great sports during the rain delay - eating hot dogs, munching on peanuts and slurping down ice cream. Hailey only saw an hour of the actual game before falling asleep and around midnight at the top of the 7th inning, we decided to call it a night and head home. The Sox ended up winning as we pulled into our garage at 1am. It was a long but memorable night for all of us thanks to Papa!

The girls with Tom enjoying being Sox fans (Peyton says she's a Cubs fan though)

Papa and Austen during the Star Spangled Banner

Oh Yeah!

Our littlest Sox fan

For a guy who is from Boston, he sure likes the White Sox!

I'm the only one in non-White Sox gear!

Monday, June 26, 2017

And, That's a Wrap!

Tonight marked the last game of our baseball and softball season. Actually, Austen ended his travel season yesterday (Little League ended last week with Austen's team coming in 2nd place) and Peyton's last game was tonight. That's a total of 53 games and 4 tournaments. It's been a busy spring but it's been a lot of fun watching both Austen and Peyton play.

Not to be outplayed by her big brother and big sister, Hailey wore an extra softball uniform and hat when she went to Peyton's games and she lined up to shake hands with the big girls after every game. She would cry when Tom went early to warm up the girls and she would have to stay with me until game time or go to Austen's baseball game with me instead. If she went to softball, she knew that most times she could be part of the team. Peyton's teammates were also really great about including her even though they called her their mascot!

It'll be nice to have our evenings and weekends back that's for sure but I know I'll miss watching the games too.  How many days til fall when soccer, flag football and all the other sports start up again?! 

Peyton playing first base (with Tom coaching in background)

End of the season pep talk

The Blue Dolls 2017 (see if you can find Hailey!)

Austen pitching for his travel baseball team

The pitch!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day!

What a beautiful Father's Day we had weather wise and otherwise! We woke early to run in our town's annual 5K and 1K run (Tom and I alternate running each year so one of us can be spectators on the course with the kids). Austen ran the 5K with me this year - first time running the 5K as I told him last year that he couldn't run with all the little kids anymore in the 1K. Most of his friends ran the 5K too. I was a little worried about him running it as I tried to prepare him that this was a different kind of running. It was a race but it wasn't a race. His goal was to finish it without walking. He needed to stay with me and not jet ahead to pass his friends.

He started out strong, wanting to go faster at the beginning and I gently reminded him to slow down and take it easy we had a long way to still go! As we ran, we passed many younger kids like him who had sprinted and now were out of gas and walking. See I told him, if you sprinted that would be you. Mile 1 down - he grabbed a water, took a sip and dumped it on his head. Mile 2 - he started to ask me how much longer. Not much, I lied sensing that he was growing a little fatigued. Almost done, I told him as we headed into the home stretch. Stay with me, I said. We're approaching a big hill right before the finish. Let's push through it and then I'll release you. He did and then I allowed him to take off and he finished strong. Great run for a 10 year old who just ran his first 5K!

Next up was the 1K and Peyton's turn. She ran as fast as she could the whole way without slowing down or stopping. She does love to run! Great job P! Next year, Hailey will join the 1K as she kept asking this year if the race bib and shirt that I picked up the day before were hers! She so wants to do everything her older brother and sister do.

After the race, we enjoyed some outside time with Sadie just basking in the perfect weather before it was time to head to Austen's baseball game. It was the semifinal game for the Little League title. If they won, they'd have to play tomorrow night for 1st Place. If they lost, they would only earn 2nd Place.

It was a hard fought game between many school friends but after 6 innings the score was 8-4 - bad guys. Austen's team unfortunately didn't bring home the 1st Place trophy but they should be proud. They scored 2nd Place and had a great season. Austen pitched some great innings and made some great plays in the field as well as hit a key single in the home stretch.

It was the perfect way to spend Father's Day (like Mother's Day) - watching our kid(s) play sports!

Today's 5K and 1K racers!
Austen and me after just finishing the 5K
Peyton about to begin her race smiling for the camera
Austen with his trophy

Special Father's Day ceremony

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hailey Goes To Camp

Hailey started camp today. I was a little worried about signing her up since really the only school that she has known has been her Montessori school but she's been doing great going to soccer each week (even though I sit on the sidelines) and she doesn't know anyone there. I thought it would be good for her to be exposed to a different environment and make new friends especially as she transitions to a new classroom at Montessori school next year.

So I've been talking up camp since I signed her up a few months ago and she seemed okay with it. Last week we went to meet her counselor and grab her camp bag and again she was happy to go and see where camp was going to be. She was even happier when she got the camp calendar and Mickey Mouse day was going to be on Wednesday!

Still I wasn't sure how today was going to go. I walked her in with Austen and Peyton. We met her counselor and then she was supposed to play or color while all the parents dropped off their kids. This is where she became a little worried and I thought it best to make a quick exit. I said a quick goodbye then turned and walked out the door and around the building, peeking in the windows to see how she was doing (great as she was still coloring!).

When I picked her up, she was happy and excited about her morning at camp. I'm not sure she talked a lot at camp but she definitely observed, had a little fun and most importantly is excited to go back tomorrow!
Waiting to go into camp

Okay, I'm here now what do I do?

Okay, I'm going to color and I'm not really sure about this place but I'm not going to cry!