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!